Book Review: Junk by Melvin Burgess

Book Review: Junk by Melvin Burgess

Hey guys!

I read Melvin Burgess’ book, Junk ages ago and wanted to share my thoughts about the book.

About Junk

Junk is a book about a group of teens who get caught up in all sorts of dodgy dealings, from drugs, to stealing to even prostitution. Two teens run away, Gemma who is loud and confident, and Tar, shy and quiet. They fall in and out of love and we see their lives unravel through the years.

Review

I thought Junk was incredibly clever and well written. It is written in first person and has lots of the characters’ opinions and view points in. It was a book that needed to be written. We see how easy it is to get into drugs, smoking, alcohol and more when Gemma and Tar start to live with two other teens in a squat.

We see Gemma become reckless and full of herself after she leaves her parents. Whereas Tar, beaten up by his dad and abused by his mother, starts to make friends and a life for himself. But that all seems to change when Gemma meets Lily, a quirky girl in her own world. They become instant friends and Gemma decides to live with Lily and her boyfriend Rob. Tar, being the hopeless romantic he is, chases after Gemma and decides to live in the squat with them.

Everything is fine at first. Until they start smoking hash and then get on to Heroin. Their personalities change over the years. They become less caring, depressed and even more irresponsible.

I think it was important for Burgess to put this book out there to one, explain to people what addiction is and how hard it is to come off, and two, how anyone, literally anyone, can get into the same situation Tar and Gemma found themselves in. Like Melvin said, he didn’t want to write the book at all, but he knew he had to.

I thought that the character development in this was phenomenal, even if it wasn’t a good character development. It showed us how peoples personalities can change when on drugs. After all, these kids were impressionable, they were both only 14 when they left their parents.

It’s no wonder Tar got addicted to drugs so easily coming from the family he had. But he should have recieved help before it got to that point. But at the time, he didn’t think he needed help, he just made out as though they were having a bit of fun and could easily come off the drugs if they wanted.

But unfortunately it’s not that easy. Things don’t always go to plan. And that’s what I love about this book; the way Burgess is so honest with the readers. He doesn’t shy away from the topic of drugs, sex or anything. He openly discusses it and I found the book to be an eye opener.

I look forward to reading Melvin’s other books!

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!

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

Book Review: Unboxed by Non Pratt

Book Review: Unboxed by Non Pratt

In this week’s post I’ll be reviewing Non Pratt’s short story, Unboxed.

Blurb

Four friends meet up at their old school to open the memory box they stowed there years ago – with five letters inside for four of them, because their friend Millie has died. When they open the box they find a new letter from Millie and discover that she has left them special instructions: permission to open her letter only if they all read aloud the letters they wrote to their older selves, revealing their deepest secrets.

Review

I picked this book up at the library, not knowing if it was for younger readers until I saw the word fuck inside. It’s a super easy YA read, as it says on the back. And it truly is. I’m someone who struggles as I am a slow reader. But I got through this book in a couple of hours. It was such an easy read but also a heartwarming one full of rekindling friendships, bereavement and love.

I don’t read many short stories but I already grew so attached to the characters, especially Dean. I love how the characters are developed so quickly and even one night can change your world forever. Ben is a big softie and even though it’s sad Millie is dead, she brings her friends back together.

I have to say their deepest darkest secrets weren’t really surprising and I was left waiting and wondering when the secrets would spill out, but overall I thought the letters had lovely sentiments to them.

It’s a must read for YA lovers but also if you need a little pick me up read.

Have you read Unboxed? Did you enjoy it? Until next time, love, Vee x

Review: After Life

Review: After Life

Oliver and I finished watching After Life the day it came out because we wanted a good laugh and I’d been looking forward to watching it ever since Netflix started promoting the series.

rick

Review

At first I thought it was going to be another one of his goofy films like The Invention of Lying. I had no idea this wonderful series was going to put a humorous spin on an otherwise dark topic.

From the very beginning to the very end, I loved every second of the series. It was quite clear from the start that Tony (Ricky) needed to get on with his life. I’ve seen a few people criticize the series saying that they didn’t like the way Tony’s grief disappeared. But it didn’t disappear, he just learnt that he needs to enjoy the time he has on this planet. We’re all going to die. Should we waste our time wallowing in self pity and misery when there’s a whole world to explore? A world that your loved one didn’t see but you know they’d want you to explore?

This series sheds a light on what grief really is but Ricky always manages to make us laugh in the darkest of times. I think my favourite parts were when he called the school boy a “tubby little ginger cunt” and when he’s laughing at the women’s tit puddings. If you have no idea what I’m on about then I suggest you go and watch it so you can have a right laugh.

The series is so witty that I found myself laughing about some of the scenes long after they had passed. I really enjoyed he fact that I knew all of the actors from Ricky’s other TV series and movies such as Kerry Godliman. They all had the right parts and didn’t overshadow Ricky’s character.

ricky gervais.png

Over all the episodes we can see Ricky soften up and we see what he truly cares about. We see him care about his nephew George – maybe not in the right way! – and his dad, his colleagues and dog. After all, the dog did save his life. He brings up some serious issues such as self harm and suicide which need to be talked about openly. Not only has Ricky blessed us with yet another hilarious series but he’s also brought a more serious side of mental health to our attention. Did you know that in the UK men remain three times as likely to take their own lives than women, and in the Republic of Ireland four times more likely? This is a shocking statistic that needs to be changed. We all know that men receive a lot of stick about talking about their feelings. This needs to change and the fact Ricky has brought this to our attention means we need to fight the stigma related to men talking about their feelings.

I also liked the fact that it wasn’t about Tony just moving on with his life and forgetting his late wife; it was about learning to live with the loss and grieving in the right, healthy way. I loved the series; it may not be for everyone but I enjoy dark humor and offensive swear words!

 

Book Review: The Tattooist Of Auschwitz

Book Review: The Tattooist Of Auschwitz

In this week’s review I’ll be reviewing The Tattooist of Auschwitz by Heather Morris.

Blurb

In 1942, Lale Sokolov arrived in Auschwitz-Birkenau. He was given the job of tattooing the prisoners marked for survival – scratching numbers into his fellow victims’ arms in indelible ink to create what would become one of the most potent symbols of the Holocaust.

Waiting in line to be tattooed, terrified and shaking, was a young girl. For Lale – a dandy, a jack-the-lad, a bit of a chancer – it was love at first sight. And he was determined not only to survive himself, but to ensure this woman, Gita, did, too.

So begins one of the most life-affirming, courageous, unforgettable and human stories of the Holocaust: the love story of the tattooist of Auschwitz.

Review

I don’t usually read historical romance, but I was compelled to read this since having visited Anne Frank’s House and reading her diary. I want to also visit Auschwitz and reading this made my heart break.

I was apprehensive at first because I was worried about how I would handle hearing about the torture and torment these people went through. But Morris writes beautifully of Lale’s love for Gita and I couldn’t put this book down for a second. Their heartwarming story makes you have faith in humanity. I was constantly praying that they come out alive since I had never heard about Lale’s story and didn’t want to ruin it.

Expecting the worst, I read on to hear about all the tortures the women, men and children went through. From the crematorium to the beatings Lale receives, it is all heartbreaking.

I won’t ruin the end for you. But I will say that Lale and Gita’s story lives on in this book. Morris has done a wonderful job reciting Lale’s story. It kept me on my toes, made me want to cry, pray and be thankful. Everyone will be in tears after reading this.

Hearing about what they went through is excruciating and no one should wish someone so much pain. Their bravery, all of them, is admired and will live on in every heart that reads this beautiful love story.

If you haven’t already, you need to read this now. Until next time, love, Vee x

Book Tour: Man VS Happiness

Book Tour: Man VS Happiness

In this week’s post I’ll be interviewing Freida Kilmari, the author of Man VS Happiness.

Man VS Happiness

The Mental Health Disaster has destroyed half the population of Earth.

Humanity is at crisis point.

It’s the chosen Legacy Scholar’s job to document the journey, but when his only window into the outside world breaks, he’s in a race against time to fix it before the Library of Time is lost forever.

Take a read through his adventure, and through humanity’s journey, in a beautiful collection of short stories, poetry, and essays.

Man VS Happiness will be available on 14th February.

Interview With Freida Kilmari

1. What made you come up with the idea of Man VS Happiness?

Man VS Happiness came from frustration actually. When you go searching for information about mental illness, you’re bombarded with statistical reports, news articles, and science papers. It seems as though the only people allowed a voice about mental illness is everyone other than those suffering. And isn’t the point of awareness to encourage people to open up more, to talk to those around them? How are we supposed to do that when the only news stories we see are negative? Where’s the hope? Where’s the story about someone who nearly died and then recovered miraculously afterwards? I want to help make the world a brighter place, especially for those suffering from mental illness.

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

The most challenging aspect is probably time. Most writers earn under $10k a year, which means we have to hold down full time jobs. But if we’re doing that, where the time to write? It’s an endless cycle. You know that if you had more time you could produce more content, but if you have more time to write you might be taking a pay cut. It’s challenging. I’m lucky that I’m a freelance fiction editor, because it means I can flex my job around my writing schedule; plus, I love what I do.

The best part is seeing people enjoy your work. I love it when someone sends me a message with something like, “Hey, just started the book and am loving it.” It’s those simple messages/emails that make all the hard work pay off.

3. How do you cope with writer’s block?

I’m not someone who suffers from writer’s block. I’ve been writing almost every day since I was 12, and I’m now nearly 24, and I can honestly say that I have never suffered from writer’s block. There have been times when I’ve needed a break or needed to rest and think about a part of a book I’m stuck on, but I’ve never not been able to write. I think it’s partly because I write more than one project at a time, so if I get stuck with one I can just work on the other for a bit. And then I usually unstick myself after taking a break from that difficult project.

4. Have you got any other books planned for the future?

Yes. Man VS Happiness is part one of a collection that will be slowly released over the next decade, but I’m also working on a multi-series fantasy universe, called the Ennéa Vasileía Universe. It’s a fantasy universe based on my own unique take on Greek mythology. The first book for it comes out in spring, The Keepers’ Origin—the first book in the Erimish Saga. It’s a Young Adult Epic Fantasy about an ancient war that’s about to come back into the fold. Four sixteen-year-old girls suddenly possess elemental powers in a world that hasn’t seen the likes of magic in over a thousand years. It’s full of friendship, magic, action, romance, and LoTR-style word building.

5. What was the best part about writing Man VS Happiness?

The best part was being able to put a voice to some of those indescribable feelings. What does it feel like having a panic attack? What does it feel like to be so depressed you can’t even lift your pinkie finger? These are things that are hard to describe, but by writing fantasy-related stories and poetry, I’ve managed to find my voice.

6. If you were stranded on an island and had to pick 3 items and 3 people to accompany you, what and who would you take?

I’d take His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman, because I can’t live without those books. I’d also be practical and take some kind of weapon and maybe a map of the island? I’d bring along my fiancé (obviously), but also maybe a wildlife expert who knows about plants and animals so we could know what to eat and what not to eat. Perhaps then a survival specialist so we could know how to build shelter, start a fire, etc.

I hope you enjoyed reading about Freida’s writing and I do hope you read her book, Man VS Happiness. Until next time, love, Vee x

Poetry Review: Under The Influence

Poetry Review: Under The Influence

In this week’s blog post I’ll be reviewing Jacquelyn Lee’s poetry debut, Under The Influence. Trigger warning: A book about trauma, abuse and addiction.

Blurb

Under the influence is a journey of abuse, trauma, and grief through poetry. It is divided into three chapters: addiction, withdrawal, and overdose. Each chapter depicts a different part of the author’s abuse-ridden life as she grew up “under the influence” of her dysfunctional parents.

Jacquelyn Lee turns her pain into something beautiful through her gripping and moving words. Through poetry and prose, she expresses her experiences with an alcoholic father, a mentally-ill mother, the suicide of her father and everything in between. Under the influence brings the darkness into the light and gives a voice to the voiceless.

Review

I interviewed Jacquelyn Lee a while ago and asked her about her writing and Under The Influence. I’ve wanted to buy the book for a while and with Christmas money I was able to afford to.

I knew it was going to be about abuse and trauma but it was still surprising how many awful things happened to her and her family.

Jacquelyn is determined to help others through her writing and reading her book made me feel less alone. I, myself am from a broken home and can relate to some of Jacquelyn’s experiences. It’s a horrible thing to have to go through but I’m so glad she decided to share her experiences to create more awareness for domestic abuse victims.

The book is full of affirmations about how it’s not the victim’s fault for the abuser’s actions. She talks about addiction, alcohol, trauma and the abuse her and her siblings went through.

I admire her for talking and opening up about her parents and I can’t wait to read more of her writing.

You can follow Jacquelyn on Instagram: Jacquelyn.Lee

Twitter: _JacquelynLee

Facebook: JacquelynxLee

Or visit her website: http://www.Jacquelyn-Lee.com

I urge you to buy this book if you or someone you know has been through abuse and want to make a difference in the world. Until next time, love, Vee x

Book Review: Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

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 a little while ago Siobhan Curham kindly sent me her latest release, Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow to review. I was immensely excited and I’ve been really slow on my reading lately (even more so recently) but this book has managed to get me through a slump.

Blurb

Fourteen year-old Stevie lives in Lewes with her beloved vinyl collection, her mum…and her mum’s depression. When Stevie’s mum’s disability benefits are cut, Stevie and her mum are plunged into a life of poverty. But irrepressible Stevie is determined not to be beaten and takes inspiration from the lyrics of her father’s 1980s record collection and dreams of a life as a musician. The she meets Hafiz, a talented footballer and a Syrian refugee. Hafiz’s parents gave him their life savings to buy Hafiz a safe passage to Europe; his journey has been anything but easy. Then he meets Stevie…

As Stevie and Hafiz’s friendship grows, they encourage each other to believe in themselves and follow their dreams.

Review

I was really excited about starting this book as I love to read new authors’ work. I didn’t expect the story to grip me the way it did but it was so moving. I felt like I was transported into Stevie and Hafiz’s world and it reminded me of the Jacqueline Wilson books I used to read.

Stevie and Hafiz’s relationship is something to admire; they are both from extremely different backgrounds but both have their best interests at heart. This isn’t a book about the guy getting the girl, but about the strength friendship gives you.

This story is so important for people to read because Hafiz is a refugee and the video he makes for assembly is actually moving. It’s so realistic and Curham outlines the heartbreak that can come from being a refugee. She writes so eloquently about the crisis and details everything from the papers that Hafiz needed to get into the UK, to the journey he took and the sights he saw on the way. It was heartbreaking to read but sends a really important message to those who don’t know about the crisis.

It’s also an important read to those who know someone with depression or want to know more about it; Stevie’s mum is anxious and has depression which is hard on her and Stevie. The fact that she can’t work and is relying on benefits is a true crisis here in Britain. There are too many people who have mental health problems who don’t receive help and have their benefits cut.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the journey that both Hafiz and Stevie go on. Stevie’s struggles with poverty and Hafiz’s problems with bullying both highlight current problems and I think this book is a must read for anyone wanting to know more about these issues. The characters were so lovable and I really rooted for all of them.

I can’t wait to read more of Curham’s work and I’m so glad books like this exist.

Until next time, love, Vee x

Sunshine Blogger Award

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 in this week’s blog post I’m going to be talking about the Sunshine Blogger Awards and how you can take part.

I was nominated by Multipotentialite Thoughts  for the Sunshine Blogger Awards. I’m so pleased! As the blog suggests, it’s about lifestyle, DIY, literature and much more! Thank you so much for the nomination!

This award has some rules if you are nominated and want to take part:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link their blog to this post
2. Answer the 11 questions asked by the nominator
3. Nominate 11 other bloggers
4. Ask them 11 questions – different from the ones you’ve answered
5. List the rules
6. Display the Sunshine Blogger Award on your post or blog site.

Questions asked by Multipotentialite Thoughts:

Where do you see yourself in 5 years from now?

In five years I hope my blog is even larger and I hope to write more and eventually publish a book – hopefully poetry if I can keep going! I also want to travel to a lot more places and maybe even move to another country.

What social stigma does society need to get over?

I think everyone needs to get over the fact anyone can love anyone. There are still so many people who won’t accept people who are gay, lesbian, trans etc. Love is love people! It’s not hard to understand! Also, mental health – we need to talk about it more, in books, TV, movies. The more we talk about it, the more people we can help encourage to talk to someone and recieve the help and support they need.

What are your views on religion?

I respect everyone’s views and religion unless that religion disrespects someone. Don’t go around yelling your opinion – if someone wants to learn about a religion, they will. They don’t need you jumping down their necks trying to convince them your religion is better than anything else and is the only way.

I’m personally an atheist and that’s all I will say.

What is your lucky number and why?

13! I kind of picked it because it’s Taylor Swift’s lucky number and I absolutely love Friday the 13th. It’s not unlucky, it’s just our suspicions that get the better of us. I love to like the things that others hate most.

Why did you start blogging?

Excellent question! I was a digital media trainee and one of my main tasks was to create blog posts on a weekly basis. When I left, I really missed writing them and I had thought about starting a blog for a while. I want to share my views and recommend books to people – it is the most magical feeling when someone reads a book based on your review.

Name 3 things that bring you happiness in every day life.

My partner. Food (not even joking). Writing and reading (can I have that as one please?!)

What genre of music do you enjoy?

I enjoy listening to pop and country. But if Taylor Swift was a genre, and I believe she is, then I choose her.

Do you think aliens exist?

Yes. The universe is too large for there to only be humans.

When do you blog? During the day or in the evenings?

I schedule my blogs for Saturday afternoons mainly, sometimes Wednesdays. I write whenever I can!

Can you play a musical instrument?

Yes, I can play guitar and have taken many lessons.

Do you speak any other language than English? If yes, which language/s?

No, I really don’t have the patience for it! I get so confused. The English language is confusing enough for me. Although I wouldn’t mind learning Italian.

I Nominate:

@destinyischoice

@hamster_says

@bibookishbabe

@TaraOSullivan15

@that_book_girl

@termine_anthony

@BloggerOrdinary

 @Love_SophBlog

@britonabudget1

@EverydayLake

@_emycatmuir

My 11 Questions

Why did you start blogging?

What’s your favourite genre to read?

What are three things you would take to a desert island?

Who is your favourite author/poet?

If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?

What is your go to comfort food?

Favourite TV show/film?

What 5 things could you not live without?

Do you have any pets?

What was your favourite subject in school?

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed this post and I’ll see you guys soon. Love, Vee x