Book Review: Second Best Friend

Book Review: Second Best Friend

In this week’s post I’ll be reviewing Second Best Friend by Non Pratt!

Blurb

Jade and Becky are best friends, but when Jade’s ex-boyfriend lets on that everyone thinks Becky is the better of the two, Jade finds herself noticing just how often she comes second to her best friend. There’s nothing Jade is better at than Becky. So when Jade is voted in as Party Leader ahead of her school’s General Election only to find herself standing against Becky, Jade sees it as a chance to prove herself. If there’s one thing she can win, it’s this election – even if it means losing her best friend.

Review

The overall theme of the book is about friendship and how that means more to us than anything else. The moral of the story is to not compare yourself to others as we do all the time based on looks, social media etc.

I warmed to some of the characters but it was hard for me to like Becky or even Jade some of the time.

I also didn’t enjoy the ending. Not only was it unrealistic but it made me think Jade isn’t actually sorry for what she’s done. It all seems a bit too good to be true that your friend would forgive you instantly after spouting rumours.

Also, if you’re such good friends, would you not talk about your worries to each other instead of letting a boy get between you?

I think the moral of the story is better suited to younger readers whereas older ones may find this a bit young and far fetched.

If you have read Second Best Friend, what did you think of it?

Until next time, love, Vee x

An Author Interview with Lisa Williamson

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 this week I have a special author interview with Lisa Williamson who kindly agreed to answer a few of my questions. I hope you enjoy her answers!

About Lisa Williamson

Lisa is the author of the book, The Art of Being Normal, which I absolutely loved because it has two transgender characters in who are so different yet so lovely in their own ways. It really reminded me of Jacqueline Wilson! She is also the author of All About Mia and her newest book, Paper Avalanche is out in January 2019.You can read more about Lisa here.

Interview Q&A

What was your inspiration for writing The Art of Being Normal and what part/character was your favourite to write?

I was initially inspired to write about trans teenagers following a two year spell as administrator for the Gender Identity Development Service (the NHS service for young people struggling with gender identity issues) between 2010 and 2012. Having noted a severe lack of transgender protagonists in YA fiction at the time (something which is slowly changing!), I wanted to have a bash at writing something that explored gender identity in a way that reflected the experiences of the young people using the service.

From the very beginning, I wanted to write a book that was about gender identity, but not defined by it, just like the dozens of young people I met. My favourite parts to write were all the horrible bits – the bullying scene and the scene in the woods. I don’t know why, but writing really emotionally charged scenes is the most exciting part of writing for me. My favourite character to write was Leo. I loved how gruff yet vulnerable he is.

What made you want to be a writer? Did you know from a young age you were going to write books?

I’ve always loved stories and from a very early age, I’d make up stories in my head. My first ambition was to be an illustrator and I’d spend hours drawing people and coming up with back stories for them all. As I got older, I developed a love for acting and I sort of forgot about writing for a while! I rediscovered it in my late-twenties when I was temping in offices between acting jobs but it took another six years before I got a publishing deal.

Who is your favourite author/book and why?

I have lots of favourites but one that really stands out is When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead. It’s clever, funny, inventive and beautifully written.

What’s your advice for someone going through writer’s block or someone wanting to become a published author?

If you have writer’s block the worst thing you can do is stare at your notebook or computer screen and wait for inspiration to hit. Go for a walk, watch a film, do a really mundane domestic task, write something totally different – anything that will take your mind off your project. More often than not, the solution to your problem will present itself when you’re least expecting it.

My best advice for aspiring authors is to remind yourself it’s not a race. I was 35 when I first got published and I know many authors who were significantly older than that. Writing is a craft and it takes time and hard work to figure out your voice and style. If your destiny is to be a writer, it’ll happen. Just stick at it and try to have as much fun with it as possible.

Do you have any plans to write more books/series?

I do! My next book, Paper Avalanche is out in January 2019 and I’m currently working on a fourth novel.

If you had to pick a quote that you had to live by, which one would it be?

‘Compare yourself to who you were yesterday, not to who someone else is today’ (Jordan Peterson).

Now, this is a fun question I love. You’re stranded on an island and you can only pick 3 people and 3 objects/things to take with you. Who and what would you take?

My boyfriend Dylan, the author Non Pratt and my good friend Ash. They’re three of the most interesting and inventive people I know. Plus, they’re positive thinkers (a handy trait on a desert island!). In terms of items, I’d go for pen and paper (can that count as one, please?), sunscreen (I’ll burn to a crisp otherwise), and a hammock.

I hope you all enjoyed this author interview and I’ll see you next week! Love, Vee x

LGBT Book Recommendations

Hey guys! So in this week’s blog I’m going to be giving you some LGBT book recommendations!
I think it’s brilliant that more LGBT books are being published and they’re all I read! So without further ado, here are some of my favourites!
Non Binary and Transgender Books

Every Day by David Levithan

Every Day is about a person called A who wakes up in a different body every day. A could be descried as non binary and this book is one of the most unique I have ever read.

A wakes up one day inside Jason and his girlfriend Rhiannon thinks he’s acting strange because he’s never this kind or romantic. Now A has to figure out a way of staying in one body…
I can’t wait to read the sequel, Another Day since the last book was left on a cliffhanger…


If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo

If I Was Your Girl is about a transgender girl called Amanda. She moves in with her dad and she hopes no one will find out who she used to be…

Even though there are some unrealistic aspects in the book, it was a heart-wrenching and lovely book about acceptance, friendship and family.

The Art Of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

David Piper is transgender but his family think he’s gay and he gets bullied at school – until he meets Leo. Leo stands up for David and they soon become friends when Leo reveals his past and invites David on an adventure.
This book reminds me of Jacqueline Wilson’s writing and is by far one of my favourite reads. It is heartwarming, real and unpredictable – everything that a good book should be.

Books on sexuality

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

Carry On is like Hogwarts but with two wizards who fall in love and defeat the bad guys. Simon Snow is a wizard and Baz, his vampire roommate can’t stand him for being the ‘chosen one.’ However, as they battle together, they soon realise their feelings are more than just magic…
Carry On is fan-fiction from Fangirl, another book by Rowell and I would recommend reading that first.

Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe

Lucy is one of my favourite YouTubers and she used to date and live with her girlfriend Kaelyn Petras, another YouTuber. They both inspired me with their YouTube videos about anxiety, long distance and LGBT topics.
However, they broke up after being long distance for six years and Lucy finished her book before they broke up.

Girl Hearts Girl is about Lucy’s journey to discovering she was gay and how she learned to accept it. Lucy also writes about her experiences with anxiety, school, friends and long distance. IT truly is a lovely book about self discovery and acceptance.
Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Geekerella is exactly what it says it is; a Cinderella story with a geeky twist. Danielle lives with her two evil stepsisters and stepmonster. Danielle loves Starfield, a sci-fi program her and her dad used to watch when he was alive.

Her father built a con for all types of fans and Danielle is upset that there’s going to be a Starfield movie with an actor she hates called Darien Freeman. However, they accidentally start texting, not knowing who each other are and Danielle wants to enter a contest at her father’s con to meet Darien and tell him what she thinks.

Sage, who Danielle works with, helps make her a costume and they go to the con together. It turns out Sage and Danielle’s step sister hit it off and even though there isn’t much mention of the LGBT community, it’s still a cute story worth reading!

So there you go! These are some of my favourite LGBT books and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I did!
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Top Ten Poems from Milk and Honey

Hey guys!

So this week I have been reading Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey, a poetry book of how to survive and heal. To me, this poetry is raw and emotional. It isn’t sugarcoated or punctuated because it doesn’t need to be for the very real reason that Rupi has poured her heart into her work. Here is a list of my top ten favourite poems from Milk and Honey, and why they are my favourites.

Poem One

love is not cruel
we are cruel
love is not a game
we have made a game
out of love

I think this is beautifully sad because it’s true; we have made a game out of tearing others down and sometimes things don’t work out because of it.

Poem Two 

other women’s bodies
are not our battlegrounds

We need to learn to respect women and stop tearing each other down; we are all going through this thing called life and having people bully us is not going to get them anywhere. It just shows how miserable those people are to have to tear others down for their own enjoyment.

Poem Three

sex takes the consent of two
if one person is lying there not doing anything
cause they are not ready
or not in the mood
or simply don’t want to
yet the other is having sex
with their body it’s not love
it is rape

This is so important. Rupi talks openly about rape in her poetry and she pours her heart into her work. If someone doesn’t want to have sex, and the other does, it is rape. It’s that simple. It is rape.


Poem Four

i do not want to have you
to fill the empty parts of me
i want to be full on my own
i want to be so complete
i could light a whole city
and then
i want to have you
cause the two of us combined
could set it on fire

This is one of the most beautiful poems in my opinion. Rupi is saying that we should all learn to love ourselves and be able to be on our own, but it’s even better to have someone by your side.

Poem Five

i need someone
who knows struggle
as well as i do
someone
willing to hold my feet in their lap
on days it is too difficult to stand
the type of person who gives
exactly what i need
before i even know i need it
the type of lover who hears me
even when i do not speak
is the type of understanding
i demand
                    – the type of lover i need

This poem is saying what every person wants in a relationship and what we need. We need someone to understand us and be with us even on the worst days of our lives. We need someone who will know we’re upset before we even speak; someone who will always be there no matter how hard the road gets.

Poem Six

every time you
tell your daughter
you yell at her
out of love
you teach her to confuse
anger with kindness
which seems like a good idea
till she grows up to
trust men who hurt her
cause they look so much
like you
              – to fathers with daughters

This one really hits home for me. I’ve had bad relationships because of my relationship with men and not having any male role models to look up to. I didn’t have a fatherly figure. This is true – when you yell at your child “out of love” you are damaging her future relationships and giving her trust issues – especially with men.

Poem Seven

the thing
worth holding on to
would not have let go

This poem is so simple yet it touches a nerve. If someone doesn’t make the effort to be in your life, to fight for you, then they are not worth your time, energy or tears.

Poem Eight

when you are broken
and he has left you
do not question
whether you were
enough
the problem was
you were so enough
he was not able to carry it

He couldn’t handle you at your worst, so don’t let him see you at your best. You deserve someone who is going to be able to be there on your bad days and who will have a blast with you on the good.

Poem Nine

i had to leave
i was tired of
allowing you to
make me feel
anything less
than whole

Have enough self respect and dignity to walk away when you deserve to be treated better.

Poem Ten

it takes grace
to remain kind
in cruel situations

Such a simple yet effective message. Rise above those who are cruel and learn to counteract that cruelty with kindness.

So there you have it! Some of my favourite inspirational poems from Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey. I can’t wait for the release of her latest poetry book, The Sun and her Flowers!

Tell me in the comments some of your favourite poems!

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Book Review #5: Geekerella by Ashley Poston

Well hello there! I’m glad you stopped to take a look at my review of Geekerella by Ashley Poston. I will be giving a brief overview about what Geekerella is about and then my review and thoughts on the book.

Overview

Geekerella is Ashley Poston’s newest novel and it’s about a girl who is obsessed with Starfield, a sci-fi TV series which is getting a film made out of it. Danielle – or Elle as she’s referred to – lost her mother and father at a young age and she has to live with her wicked stepmother and step sisters; just like Cinderella. Elle’s dad started a convention called Excelsicon for people to come together and celebrate different fandoms. Elle decides to enter a cosplay contest at the con with her parents clothes to try to win tickets so she can move to LA, far away from her evil stepmother.

Elle starts texting a random stranger about Excelsicon and they start to bond – little does she know this person is Darien Freeman, the actor to play Carmindor in Starfield’s new reboot. And she is not happy! She believes Darien is just a self obsessed guy with abs.

This book is all about fandoms coming together, love, friendship and finding out who you are.

Review

I had high expectations for Geekerella since I had seen that almost everyone on Instagram has a copy; I had to see what all the fuss was about – and get my hands on that beautiful cover! And trust me, this book delivered.

Even though I didn’t understand some fandom references, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this magical book about a girl finding her feet in an impossible world. And it is set out like Cinderella, so of course I will love anything fairy tale like! Ashley makes us hope for a better life for Elle and the book keeps us on the edge of our seats till the very last chapter. We want to know how it ends even though fairy tales usually end happily ever after.

I really enjoyed how witty Ashley made the characters, how she made the dialogue come alive and my favourite character has got to be Sage, Elle’s best friend since she is such a bad ass!

Ashley captures what I imagine it would be like to be a movie star in a world where none of your secrets are private, where your social life is an open book for all to read. Darien wants a normal life outside of his acting career and Elle just wants someone to care for her after everything she’s been through.

Geekerella teaches us that no one is perfect and that there is hope in this impossible world.

Throughout the book there are quite a few spelling errors which makes me cringe but apart from that I really enjoyed the characters and the plot. This is definitely one of my favourite reads of this year!

We see the characters unfold and step out of their shell slowly, the way it would happen in real life. This book is half fairy tale, half reality, giving us a perfect balance for fantasy and contemporary lovers alike.

Overall, I would rate this book 4.5/5☆

If you would like to learn more about Geekerella and Ashley Poston, just click here.

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Let me know in the comments what you thought of Geekerella!

Book Review #2 All The Bright Places By Jennifer Niven

So, as some of you may know, I’m trying to post more book reviews on my blog! This month’s book review is based on All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven.

Warning: spoilers ahead!

About

All the Bright Places is about a girl called Violet who learns to live from a boy called Finch who wants to die. Violet’s sister, Eleanor died in a car crash and Violet blames herself. Finch is a boy who is bullied at school and called a ‘freak’ and his parents don’t seem to care much about him. His dad ran off with another family and his mother is too busy and clueless to know what is going on.

Violet meets Finch on top of the school’s bell tower where they seem to both talk each other off the ledge. Soon enough, Finch is obsessed with wanting to be Violet’s friend and the two strike up a friendship when they are assigned a group project to wander Indiana before they graduate and go off to college.

Violet counts down the days until she leaves school but Finch teaches her that she doesn’t need to stop living just because Eleanor is gone; she has to learn to live with the pain and not let it consume her life.

Review

As much as I enjoyed this YA contemporary novel about two people I can relate to personalty wise, I have to say I felt as if Niven almost romanticized dying – I don’t believe this is her intention at all; after all, Niven lost someone she loved to suicide. But the book reminded me a lot of John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars and I can’t help but feel that some contemporary books for young adults romanticize anything they can with poetry and riddles.

If you don’t want to know how the book ends, I suggest you come back after you have read it!

Throughout Violet and Finch’s wanderings through Indiana, they leave things behind and go to insignificant, ‘lovely’ places that aren’t the usual tourist attractions. Finch befriends Violet on Facebook and they start using Virginia Woolf quotes throughout their messages. When Finch disappears, he leaves behind notes and clues for Violet; which reminds me of John Green’s Papertowns. These clues eventually lead Violet to realise that Finch has taken his own life.

Finch teaches Violet that things most people would find insignificant or ugly, are actually rather lovely and these make the best memories. Violet learns to let herself heal and eventually comes out of the dark she has been hiding in for so long. I just feel as if Violet will now go back the way she was when Eleanor died; after all, she has now lost two people who meant the world to her.

At Finch’s funeral, his family refuses to call his death a suicide because of the stigma and shame surrounded by the word. They let people believe it was a tragic accident instead of blaming themselves for not paying enough attention, not reading the signs. Which makes it even more unbelievable that Violet would not notice it; she was closer to him than anyone. It’s true that you can hide your depression from others, but I feel like with Finch’s character, someone should have noticed other than the counselor. However, I do understand where Finch is coming from when he doesn’t want to be labelled as Bipolar or anyone with a mental illness. But it is important to get help and recognize that you do have a mental illness. You don’t have to let a label control you; anxiety, suicidal thoughts, depression, bipolar disorder, OCD, any mental illness doesn’t define who you are.

As much as Niven has highlighted suicide and depression, I can’t help but feel that Violet would have seen the signs – after all, didn’t Niven portray Violet as someone with depression? This is also something that bothers me about the book: we don’t receive enough  insight into the characters, least of all, Violet.

In real life, someone with depression isn’t usually fascinated with suicide facts and quotes and memoirs. Somehow, I feel Niven has made Finch obsessed with dying and when he leaves Violet and his family behind without a word to them – just clues – I felt as if this was quite unrealistic. This topic is sensitive to me in more than a few ways and I feel as if Finch reminds me of someone I once knew. Maybe this is why I didn’t enjoy the book, maybe why I didn’t shed a tear, maybe why I didn’t feel that flippy feeling in my stomach every time I read a good book.

I understand there are probably hundreds of people who feel the same way as Finch and Violet, but I just felt the characters didn’t feel real and raw enough. They were written in first person but by the way they would talk, it sounded more like they were written by someone on the outside, in third person.

Suicide is a tricky subject to write about and I applaud Niven for writing from the heart. It takes a lot of courage but it is also what makes you a good writer.

                                                                                                 
I did like that the places Niven described in the book were real and lovely in their own, wonderfully weird way: I especially liked the roller coasters created by John Ivers, the Milltown Shoe Tree, the world’s Largest Ball of Paint, the Ultraviolet Apocalypse and the Taylor Prayer Chapel. These places may be insignificant tourist attractions but they are all beautiful and I’m glad Niven introduced me to these places.

I couldn’t find any good photos of the rest but if you Google them, they will come up! These two images were sourced from Google.

                                                                                                 
I’m going to rate this book as 2/5☆ since I feel uncomfortable with the subject and I’m not sure how I feel about the portrayal of characters. I do think that these books are extremely important, no matter how they are written! Just as long as the message gets across!

Let me know in the comments what you think of the book! Everyone has different opinions!

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If you feel depressed, suicidal or anxious, please talk to someone. It is so important! I’m going to put some suicide hotlines down below:

Samaritans UK and ROI: 116 123

Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide: 0300 111 5065

SupportLine: 01708 765200






Book Review #1 The Art of Being Normal by Lisa Williamson

Hi guys!

So this is going to be my first proper book review on here. My review is on a book I finished last week called ‘The Art of Being Normal’ by Lisa Williamson.

About

This book is so heartwarming and beautifully written about David Piper and Leo Denton, two students who attend Eden Park School. David is a year below Leo and wants to transition into a girl. However, he is too afraid to confront his parents and thinks they will disown him if he tells them the truth. David’s friends know that he is transgender and are very supportive. Harry Beaumont, however, is the school bully and picks on David and calls him ‘Freak Show.’ Harry and his infamous gang are bullying David and this is where Leo comes to the rescue. He stands up to Harry and slowly but surely Leo and David strike up a friendship. At first it’s just Leo teaching David math but soon David’s persistent character manages to grind Leo down and we see a different side of him.

My Opinion 

I enjoyed how Lisa has written each character separate chapters in the first person so we can truly get a feel for their personalities. Lisa’s plot almost reminds me of Jacqueline Wilson’s writing and the issues she talks about; especially when Leo goes searching for his Dad.

My favourite character has got to be Leo Denton because at the start of the book he’s guarded and likes to fly under the radar, so to speak, and then he changes by the end of the book into a more open person. I think it ties in well with how Lisa reveals Leo’s big secret because even the readers don’t know about it until Leo himself says something. This describes perfectly how Leo and David are the narrators of their own book; they slowly trust the readers with their guarded lives and slowly reveal themselves – especially Leo. To let David and Alicia know his secret was a big step for Leo and proves that as the story goes on, he learns to trust again. Eventually we see him unravel as Lisa slowly breaks him down. By the end of the book Leo still isn’t totally open but he has made a giant leap and has gone on a long journey.

David is also unrecognizable by the end and comes a long way, with the help of his friends and family, to accepting and being who he is on the inside.

I’m so proud that there are more books being published highlighting issues such as bullying regarding being transgender; being different. There are times in this book where I wanted to cringe and put it down, fearful that if I read any further, something bad was going to happen. But as much as this book is centered on issues such as bullying, there are also some wonderfully heartwarming moments of acceptance and support that could bring tears to your eyes.

Lisa portrays Leo and David’s differences from others as a good yet tough experience; she teaches that you don’t have to be normal to fit in – you just have to be you. Lisa definitely did her research; especially on testosterone and transitioning in the UK. After all, she did work at GIDS (Gender Identity Development Service). However, for someone who isn’t transgender herself, Lisa certainly knows a lot about how it can feel to be transgender and how painful dysphoria can be. She became inspired by transgender teens when working at GIDS and decided to write The Art of Being Normal.

Overall, I feel like this is one of the books I found hard to put down and I had no idea how it was going to end.

Let me know what you thought of The Art of Being Normal in the comments!

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