Book Review: Depression in a Digital Age

Book Review: Depression in a Digital Age

I feel like I haven’t written a book review in a while so to start the year off on the right foot I’ll be reviewing Fiona Thomas’ book, Depression in a Digital Age.

This book has everything you need from Spice Girl references to Fiona’s rambling thoughts that help ground you and make you feel a little less alone.

Depression digital age
Taken from Fiona’s Instagram

I really felt like I was taking a journey with Fiona while reading this. I felt sympathy for her when she went through her mental health breakdown and couldn’t work.

I myself have left countless jobs for mental health related reasons which has led me to a life of freelance work.

I completely emphasized with how she felt so overwhelmed with her workload and there’s a chapter in the book that really spoke to me.

Fiona talks about taking a break from work because it’s making her so stressed. However, she also stresses out when she takes a much needed break, worrying that people will miss her and need her.

I really resonated with this when I took a week’s holiday from freelance work to go to Morocco in November. Although I was so glad to get away I was worrying about money, about whether my clients had sent me thousands of emails, etc. Turns out when I got back and switched my work phone on, I had one email, and it was a promotional one. I felt a little disappointed no one had needed me and I’d wasted precious time on holiday worrying about my workload.

I think a good lesson to take away from Fiona’s book is that you can stress as much as you like but it won’t change the outcome or how quickly you can complete a task. Take a step back, breathe and relax. Everything will get done in the end.

Overall, Fiona’s book taught me it’s okay to let others help you. It’s okay to speak out about your mental health and not everyone wants the same thing.

Depression digital age
Taken from Fiona’s Instagram

While some people are perfectly happy working 9-5 and getting home to get ready for the next day, not everyone feels the same. Sometimes our mental health stops us from doing the mundane tasks. Sometimes it prevents us from working on ourselves.

Not everyone’s journey is the same and that’s what I’ve learnt from Fiona. While our paths may be different, we share one thing in common. We just want to be happy. We want a life full of adventures. We don’t want to be bound by our mental illnesses. And that’s why Fiona’s story is so inspiring; she used her mental illness to help others.

In the book Fiona also talks about feeling like an imposter. That she isn’t qualified to do her job. The thing is, as a child I always thought I would grow up to feel so big and confident, like I could do anything. But I’m still little old anxious me. That won’t go away. We grow up to think adults have their shit together, when really we are all in the same boat, trying to paddle upstream to get to where we want to be.

Have you read Fiona’s book yet? She is currently writing another book all about being freelance which comes out later this year and I can’t wait to read it.

You can follow Fiona on her socials:

Instagram: @fionalikestoblog

Book: Depression in a Digital Age

Twitter: @fionalikes

Female Creatives Series: Q&A with Author Jessie Allyn

Female Creatives Series: Q&A with Author Jessie Allyn

Recently I came up with an idea to support female creatives and give others some empowerment. The planet, excuse my french, has gone to shit, so I wanted to make some positive posts and asked some people on Twitter whether they’d like to participate. My first interviewee is Jessie, an author and creative.

My first guest in this female creative series of posts is Jessie Allyn, an author and creative. Let’s see what she has to say!

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself!

Hi! My name is Jessie Allyn. I am a writer who focuses primarily on fantasy and romance. My goals for the future are to get my first book published by next year and then open classes to teach other writers step-by-step how to write/publish their own books.

2. What do you do for a living?

Writing is not what I do for a living, but what I do for a living allows me to write.

3. What made you decide to do what you do for a living?

When I graduated college, I graduated with a Secondary English Education degree (I was an English teacher). But life has a funny way of not aligning the way you thought it would. I jumped from college to working with a pharmaceutical company, to working with a customer service call center, to working as a tutor for students with learning disabilities, to now managing a retail store. For me, these jobs are just a means to an end. I take on these jobs in order to support myself, my family, and my writing career. Because not everyone can afford to be a full-time writer like they dream to be…at least not in the beginning.

4. What would be your advice for someone looking to go into your profession?

Writing is hard. It’s not something most people can make a living off of. So if you want to be a writer, you need to understand that you write for your love of writing, not because you want to be a famous author one day. People glamorize being a writer, but they don’t know how hard it actually is. They don’t know how long it takes to craft a book, how many times you need to query agent after agent, how many rejection letters you might get, how much money you will spend on marketing, how many unpaid hours you will lose to edits. Writing is not a get rich quick scheme, it’s a labor of love. Every book that is published was fought for. Every writer put themselves out there, in all this stress and chaos, not because they wanted to be famous – but because they had a story to tell. So my advice, to anyone who wants to become a writer, is to write for yourself first and the rest of the world second. In the end, you might be the only person to pick up that book and that needs to be enough for you.

 

Female Creatives Series: Interview: Jessie Allyn

5. What are some of your hobbies or skills that you’d like to improve this year?

I am constantly taking seminars, attending virtual classes, listening to podcasts, and working with other editors/writers in hopes to better my writing craft. So for this year, I am hoping to get to a place where I can confidently create my writing course and launch my classes for other writers out there. My goal is to be able to take someone who has no idea what to write, help them work through their entire writing process and then help them through the entire publication process. There are so many things about writing and publication that you aren’t taught and that information is super hard to find these days. So my goal is to improve my writing craft to the point where I can take all of the knowledge I’ve collected over the years and make it accessible to anyone who needs it.

6. Can you list 3 books that empower you and that you recommend every creative reads?

Julie Kagawa’s “Talon” Series – She has an amazing way of writing from multiple perspectives without breaking the flow of her novel (something I envy to this day).
Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” – This was the book that taught me that not every story needs to end in a happily ever after.
David Clement-Davies’ “The Sight” – This book is probably the book I credit the most for how “alive” my characters feel. I learned from this book that if you make your characters multi-dimensional, it doesn’t matter if they are humans or wolves – people will find ways to relate to them.

7. I always ask this one as it’s fun to wrap up with! If you were stranded on an island, what 3 things would you take with you? And which 2 people?

A knife, a flint striker, and some sort of water purifier. I’d bring my significant other and probably The Rock (I mean, he’d be super helpful on an island and more people would probably search for him than me haha).

If you want to find out more about Jessie and her work, you can visit her website here.
Thank you so much to Jessie for participating! Don’t forget to subscribe for more Q&As, tips, reviews and more!

Book Review: The Man In Forest Hills

Book Review: The Man In Forest Hills

I was recently asked by basketball player and author Alex Owumi, if I wanted to review his audio book, The Man in Forest Hills. Alex has always been a great friend and has helped increase my blogging audience over the past couple of years. I admire him and his journey and wanted to review one of his books!

Book Review: The Man in Forest Hills

The Man in Forest Hills is set around the character Thomas Kent, a detective based in Boston. He wakes up from a coma after being shot to find out his family are gone. He thinks it’s something to do with one of the high profile cases he’s worked on in the past and starts trying to dig into the mystery further…

I don’t want to give away any more spoilers as there’s a lot that goes down in the book!

I really enjoyed actually listening to an audiobook and being able to do other things; it was also a really good book to start off with. It only took me two days to get through although I did have to pay close attention to all the characters!

What I really enjoyed about this book was the suspense. Each chapter ended with a cliffhanger, making you wonder who was behind the murder of Kent’s family. As a reader, you also struggle to determine whether Kent is playing good cop or bad cop by trying to avenge his family’s murder.

If he murders the people who have harmed them, is he then in the wrong? Or is he doing a good deed to make sure they don’t murder again? It’s a very moral oriented story. We have to pick whether we are backing Kent or we want him to go to jail.

As the chapters go on we also see flashbacks to before Kent’s family were murdered; we also see his time in the police academy and how his story has unraveled to leave us where he is now. By giving us this glimpse into Kent’s past, Owumi has let the reader into his world; these flashbacks intrigue us and we find ourselves wanting to know more.

Overall, I felt like the story line was well thought out and I can’t wait to read the rest of Owumi’s books!

You can purchase Alex’s books here.

You can also read Alex’s thoughts and tips on his blog.

Hope you enjoyed this review! Remember, if you have a book you want reviewed, email me at greenv745@gmail.com

Review: Clean by Juno Dawson

Review: Clean by Juno Dawson

Hi guys! So last week I posted a review of Melvin Burgess’ Junk. I read that before Clean because Juno referred to that as her inspiration.

About Clean

Clean is centred around Lexi Volkov, the daughter of a wealthy hotel owner who so happens to be spoilt and can get whatever she wants, when she wants. Which essentially means she can also do drugs with her boyfriend Kurt whenever she wants.

However, Nikolai, Lexi’s brother kidnaps her and takes her to a special clinic on an island where she can do the ten step progam to get clean.

She meets a lot of different people (with money) who are there for other addictions such as anorexia and OCD. Lexi needs to decide whether she wants to recover or waste her life away. Her new found friends may just be the answer she needs…

Review

I’ve been to a few events where Lexi has been said to be very confident and commanding. I thought she would be a total bitch – and she is at the start – but really she has a soft centre to her.

She seems to want to hide all her secrets and blames everyone for her mistakes. She doesn’t realise she has a problem until it’s nearly too late.

What I love about this book is the character development of all the addicts. Juno really can get into the mind of an addict and it’s amazing. At times we just want to tell Lexi to put the coke down and step away. But we see her go through the ups and downs all the way to the end.

I warmed to all the addicts at the centre, even Sasha. Everyone has issues but it’s how you deal with them that counts.

I loved the writing and the characters. And obviously the fact it’s set in London. What more could you want?

Have you read Clean? What did you think?

A Trip To Marrakech

A Trip To Marrakech

Hi all! As you may have guessed from my selfie spam on social media, we went to Morroco for a week away. We stayed at the Riu Tikida Palmeraie in Marrakech, a short shuttle bus away from the centre of Marrakech. We went for the all inclusive because we wanted a paid for summer holiday with no fuss or hassle. We only took £50 spending money and managed to get snacks, KFC (yes we are those people on holiday) and souvenirs.

For the first few days we stayed at the hotel, lounging about on the sunbeds and swimming in the indoor swimming pool (which was completely empty for some reason). We binged on food and drink because let’s face it, you have to on all inclusive to get your moneys worth.

On Friday we decided to go into Marrakech centre and took the free shuttle bus from the hotel. I wanted to go to Majorelle Gardens as it looked so beautiful on the photos I’d seen. We could have been dropped off there but we decided to go all the way into the centre so we would know where pick up and drop off is. We walked quite a way as the gardens are a little further out and paid 70 Dirhams each to go inside which is less than £10. I was only interested in the gardens and not the museum so we only paid for that. The gardens were completely stunning and it was lovely to see how peaceful it was away from the bustling city centre. I would definitely recommend a visit.

After strolling through the gardens for around an hour and encountering some wildlife, we walked back into town and headed for KFC. Our legs were hurting from walking and I was way to hot in my leather jacket even though everyone was wearing huge puffy coats.

I really wanted to visit the palaces but we got lost on the map so instead we headed for the souks which was quite an experience. We got lost several times and were bombarded with questions from local sellers and stall holders. I didn’t particularly enjoy the souks but it was good to have ticked it off my list.

For the next few days we had some rain but also some gorgeous days with highs of up to 24c in November. It’s the perfect time to go because our hotel was fairly cheap, there was hardly anyone there and we experienced some lovely weather.

We headed back into the souks on Sunday night to see it in the dark and to buy some items with our leftover money. We bought Oliver’s parents a little tealight holder and I got a fake designer bag because I’m that girl.

Our last few days consisted of going to the local supermarket which came across as a Costco and spending some quality time in the sun drinking. It was sad to come home to reality but at the same time I can’t wait for the next adventure. Down below are some tips for anyone wishing to visit Morroco/Marrakech.

Tips

  • For women, it is best to cover the shoulders and knees to draw less attention to yourself but don’t worry about being too strict, it’s only for mainly going to the religious spots and palaces. I dressed conservatively to avoid attention.
  • If you’re staying in an all inclusive like us you don’t need to bring too much money with you unless you want to eat out a lot.
  • Take a water bottle to be more sustainable but to also keep hydrated as it can get quite humid, especially if you are walking a lot.
  • Ignore people wanting to sell you things, you will say no thank you ten times over if not.
  • People will pretend to shout things such as “you’ve dropped your purse” to get your attention so they can steal from you.
  • I noticed a lot of people were quite nasty and rude and only wanted money so keep your wits about you; don’t let anyone show you directions or carry your bag, you will be hassled until you give them money.
  • Don’t take pictures of monkeys and snake charmers because they will demand money from you.

Don’t forget to have a great time! Have you been to Morroco? What was your experience like? Let me know in the comments!

Poetry Review: She Must Be Mad

Poetry Review: She Must Be Mad

Hey guys. In this week’s blog I’ll be reviewing Charly Cox’s poetry debut, She Must Be Mad.

She Must Be Mad is a book about revisiting young love and painful times. There are three sections within the book; She Must Be In Love, She Must Be Mad, She Must Be Fat and She Must Be An Adult.

I have to say, I didn’t relate to a lot of the things Cox describes in the book because I’ve never had drunken night out or anything like that.

The mental health part of the book resonated with me and also some of the weight issues. I still struggle with how I look, I always will, but we learn to accept ourselves as we are.

Cox also describes what being an adult is all about and how it’s not what we expect it to be. She has a lovely writing style and makes the reader welcome in her world. She’s not afraid to tell her story in detail and that’s what I love about people.

Cox tries to make you feel less alone in a world that tells you want to be and how to act. She comforts you with her words of wisdom about when she went through her youth. The part at the end about being an adult actually made me want to cry because this year I turn 20 and I’m petrified. I don’t want to face being an adult and I don’t want to let go of my teens. But knowing others feel the same way I do is reassuring.

If you want a heartfelt read about youth, lust, love and mental illness, then this is the book for you. Until next time, love, Vee x

Book Review: Margot and Me

Book Review: Margot and Me

I read Margot and Me by Juno Dawson earlier in the year and fell in love with Margot and Fliss.

About

Margot and Me is about how Fliss moves up to Wales to be with Fliss’ grandmother while her mum is in remission from cancer. Fliss has to leave all her friends behind, including a potential love interest. She can’t stand the thought of moving away from London to a tiny town in Wales.

But fortunately for Fliss, she finds her grandmother, Margot’s, diary from the time of the war. She unveils secrets she never knew and discovers it’s not that easy to move away from home. But it does have its perks.

From YA prom where I met Juno!

Review

From the start of the book, I didn’t know what it was going to be about at all or who it was aimed at.

I was excited that Fliss and her mum were moving to Wales because I love it there.

The characters were so likeable, especially Margot (not at the start). I loved Fliss’ mum and Fliss’ gay friend Danny who lives at the Chinese his mum and dad run. Her other friend, Bronwyn is also quite sweet, although a tad odd! Dewi was a personal favourite, a big softie. I wish he would have got more time in the book! (Juno, please write a book for Dewi!)

I felt like I could relate to Fliss, apart from her confidence and sassiness. She worries a lot but is also a kind soul. She has her opinion and sticks by it, regardless of what others think. But ultimately, I loved Margot the most. You could see her character develop from the person in the diaries to who she is now, and it’s not surprising she’s so cold hearted when you look at what she’s gone through.

There was so much crammed into this book that I didn’t know which direction it was going to go in.

The writing was beautiful, especially the parts where we’re reading Margot’s diary. It felt so accurate and made the story come alive. It was like reading a story within a story.

I felt like I was actually in Margot’s farm, watching Fliss resist the urge to eat bacon and seeing her sneak into her bedroom to read more of Margot’s diary.

This book is such a heartfelt read but also a heartbreaking one. Be prepared to cry, laugh (a lot, Fliss is such a diva) and smile. If you want a family oriented read full of laughter, ballet, piglets and more, then read this now!

Blog Tour: Meet Me In Monaco

Blog Tour: Meet Me In Monaco

I was kindly asked if I would like to be part of the Meet Me In Monaco book blog tour by Harper Collins. I was gifted the historical romance and I’ve been loving it ever since I started reading it!

I’m not very far into the story but what I have read so far has me captivated.

About the Book

MEET ME IN MONACO is a mesmerizing and meticulously researched new novel by New York Times bestselling authors Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, which transports readers to the glamour of the Côte d’Azur in the 1950s during Grace Kelly’s whirlwind romance and royal wedding to Prince Rainier of Monaco. In this page-turning novel of passion, fate and second chances, a young French perfumer and a British press photographer’s lives are forever changed by their chance encounter with a Hollywood actress who is about to become a princess.

Perfumer Sophie Duval is struggling to keep her beloved family business afloat. Running out of ideas—and money—she’s desperate, but fate intervenes when the Cannes Film Festival brings Grace Kelly into her life. In an attempt to dodge persistent British press photographer, James Henderson – a man who needs a professional win to keep his job – Miss Kelly finds herself in Sophie Duval’s boutique. There, she’s met with discretion and respect, and when Grace discovers Sophie’s extraordinary talents as a perfumer and falls in love with her scents, a bond is forged between the two women, setting into motion a chain of events that stretches across thirty years.

Meanwhile, James Henderson cannot forget his brief encounter with Sophie Duval. Despite his guilt at being away from his daughter in London, he takes an assignment to cover the wedding of the century, sailing with Grace Kelly’s wedding party on the SS Constitution from New York to Monaco. As he sails across the Atlantic, his anticipation and excitement mounts, not for the royal wedding, but for the chance to see Sophie once more. In Monaco, as wedding fever soars and passions and tempers escalate, James and Sophie—like Princess Grace—must ultimately decide what they are prepared to give up for love.

Told from the alternating perspectives of Sophie and James in the 1950s and 1980s, and with enticing news articles reporting on Grace Kelly’s career, marriage – and later, tragic death – interspersed throughout, MEET ME IN MONACO is an evocative, engrossing, and marvelously told story of friendship, love, and tragedy.

About the Authors

HAZEL GAYNOR is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of A Memory of Violets and The Girl Who Came Home, for which she received the 2015 Romantic Novelists’ Association Historical Romantic Novel of the Year award. Her third novel, The Girl from The Savoy, was an Irish Times and Globe and Mail bestseller, and was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards Popular Fiction Book of the Year. In 2017, she published The Cottingley Secret and Last Christmas in Paris (co-written with Heather Webb).

Both novels hit bestseller lists, and Last Christmas in Paris won the 2018 Women’s
Fiction Writers Association Star Award. Hazel’s most recent novel, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter, hit the Irish Times bestseller list for five consecutive weeks. Hazel was selected by Library Journal as one of Ten Big Breakout Authors for 2015. Her work has been translated into ten languages and is published in seventeen countries to date. She lives in Ireland with her husband and two children.

HEATHER WEBB is the international bestselling, award-winning author of Rodin’s Lover, Becoming Josephine, The Phantom’s Apprentice, and Last Christmas in Paris (co-written with Hazel Gaynor), which won the 2018 Women’s Fiction Writers Association Star Award. Meet Me in Monaco will be followed by a fall 2019 release from Harper Collins in which Heather is one of six contributing, bestselling authors to Ribbons of Scarlet: A Novel of the French Revolution’s Women. Her works have been translated into over a dozen languages worldwide. Heather is also passionate about helping writers find their voices as a professional freelance editor, speaker, and instructor at a local college.

I’m so excited for you all to read it! It’s out now, so go and buy it and let your inner romantic free.

How To Promote Your Blog

How To Promote Your Blog

As you may know, I switched over to WordPress early on in the year from Blogger. I gained over a 1000 views in my first month and a half. I’m really happy with how my blog has grown and that I’m still doing it. I’ve never had a “hobby” last so long. So here are my top tips on how to promote your blog.

Platforms

Promoting on social media is essential if you want to gain an audience. I primarily use Twitter and Facebook now, and get a few views here and there from Instagram. A lot of my views actually come from WordPress Reader now though. Which means my followers are reading and liking and commenting on my blog. So I urge you to try to grow your followers as much as possible, as well as giving your blog its own page on Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook has hundreds of blogging groups, from promotion ones, to niches such as book blogging or travel. Sharing your posts to these groups will help you immensely when wanting to gain views.

Community

If it wasn’t for all my blogging friends, I wouldn’t be where I am today. They all help me and vice versa to promote my blog posts. From one retweet to commenting on my blog, it all makes a difference.

Make sure to interact with the people who have been through this blogging journey with you from the start. They will always have your back so make sure you get into the blogging communities on Twitter.

Hashtags

Hashtags aren’t just useful for gaining likes on an Instagram pic. They’ve helped me get into free events and receive goodies from publishing companies. I use the #Bloggerswanted hashtag on Twitter to get free products, free events and more. These give you great exposure because not only will product reviews or gift guides get your blog views, but if the company who gifted you something, share it on their website or social media, you could gain more followers and clicks.

Guest Posts

Guest posts always help me promote my blog because they will usually link back to your blog and social media handles. It’s a great way of making friends in the community while also gaining exposure. It also helps to host guest bloggers on your site because chances are they’ll want their followers to read what they’ve written and share it.

I hope these tips are useful for you, whether you’re new to blogging or a pro!

An Open Letter To My Former Employers

An Open Letter To My Former Employers

Dear Former Employers,

There’s been a lot of you, there’s no doubt about that. Some of you have been kind, some of you have been awful and a lot of you, I didn’t stick around to get to know.

Every single one of you taught me something about myself. My first, you taught me how to work in a busy environment and I’m glad you gave me so much work to do. But in the end, you’re still a condescending person.

One of you taught me to work hard but play hard too. Thank you for the late nights staying up behind the bar celebrating a successful night with all of us. Giving me that job let me spread my wings and fly the nest.

One of you was deceiving. You made me think I was delusional when I told you I was being bullied. But, I learnt to stand up for myself in the process. Ironically, being one of the worst jobs I ever had, I stayed there for seven long, tedious months through the bullying, hard family life and little pay.

My last employment, which lasted three short months taught me the most: I don’t want to work for anyone ever again. I decided to look for freelance gigs and left before I found anything else. After two months I found my full time freelance gig.

Thank you all for teaching me I can do whatever the hell I want and no one is going to stop me, not even you. Vee x