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

Glamping In A Plane

Glamping In A Plane

You heard that right! Oliver and I went Glamping, and not just any old Glamping; we did it in style. We stayed on a Jetstar in the South of Wales.

First off, I’ll tell you how I found the plane ‘Hotel.’ I was looking for planes to stay in because Oliver is obsessed with flying and planes. I searched for ages, all around the world. But I really wanted to find one in the UK. That’s when I came across Apple Camping on Airbnb which has the most wackiest places to stay, including the plane, a UFO, a witches hat and more.

I ended up booking one night (it was obviously expensive) in Wales for Oliver’s Christmas present. He was so happy when I told him and we’ve been waiting so long for this mini break.

So on Saturday morning we packed up the car and off we went for our three and a half hour drive. The weather coming out of Surrey started to hail which made me worry about what the weather must be like in Wales.

However, when we got to Swansea it was rather hot (silly me wore black jeans). We made our way to the campsite via Google maps because the sat nav lost signal when we stopped at a services. Apple Camping is located next to a farm about ten minutes away from Tenby. It’s nice and quiet and we met Wolf the campsite owner on arrival.

As we walked across the field Wolf told us they are building a church for weddings and we saw the UFO in the middle of the campsite. We walked all the way past the showers and kitchen to our home for the night: the Jetstar.

Wolf showed us our little outdoor kitchen area before taking us up the steps into the plane. First we saw the cockpit with all the original seating and equipment. Then we walked along to see where the pilot would sleep. Wolf told us that the plane originally crash landed in Gloucestershire somewhere and was then used for movies such as Diehard and Goldfinger until the campite bought it.

The seating in the plane is all original as well as the tray tables that pop out of the wall. There’s all the original strobe lighting as well as where the air stewards would make drinks. There’s also a little toilet with the original sink and taps. The bedroom has been built on to the end of the plane to give you space for all your things and a nice comfy bed.

Once settled and once I’d taken a few photos and videos, we set off to Tenby where we had dinner at Yeah Buoy, a wonderful and cheap little burger place in the centre by the sea.

Oliver wanted to show me the life boat house that was featured on grand designs and we had a nice walk around and on the beach. Once we had had dinner we loaded up with alcohol from Tescos and headed back to our camp (not before panicking because we thought the car needed oil).

Once back to the plane we played around in the cockpit (it has an Xbox but it didn’t really work) for a bit until retiring (yes, I’m trying to sound posh) to the seating area to play scrabble (I don’t think we really know the rules of scrabble but I did find out that Duffin is actually a word.)

We had a good night’s sleep with bedding provided but we did forget to take our own towels!

Checkout was at 12pm that morning so we got up at about 10am to pack up our overnight things. After taking more selfies and checking out (which consisted of shutting the doors) we headed off to Barry Island to see where all the Gavin and Stacey scenes were filmed. We played crazy golf and took photos of Gavin’s house and Stacey’s. I didn’t know this but Marco’s actually exists!

After having a look around we walked back to the car and made our long way home. But we did get back for 7pm when we had dinner and a fire at home with the family.

Have you ever been to a unique hotel or Airbnb? Let me know in the comments!

Book Review: Since You Lost Your Brother by Daniel Yetman

I was recently asked by Daniel Yetman if I would read his book, Since You Lost Your Brother and I delightfully agreed (especially when I get asked to review paperbacks instead of kindle stories!).

Review of Since You Lost Your Brother by Daniel Yetman
I received the book in the mail – it’s a short story (120 pages) so it doesn’t take too long to read. As soon as I read it I could tell this was real love Yetman was talking about – not the bookish kind that some authors create. The book had so many twists and turns that by the end I had no idea what would happen – which added to the effect the book was trying to make.

The story is about a man and a woman who’ve been in a long term relationship and the woman loses her brother. After that the couple falls apart from her depression and sadness. He leaves, not being able to cope anymore and moves to Seoul. He continues to write and tries to get over her but writes about her every day. He meets other women but can’t get over the idea of them making it work again.

I believe the moral of the story is that we don’t know what’s going to happen in life so let’s live for the moment and make the most out of it. It’s a true story about love and heartbreak and the hold someone can have on you long after it’s over. This story is definitely a must read for anyone who’s going through or has gone through a traumatic break up.


I won’t give you any spoilers for obvious reasons but I will say that you need to read it! It’s a collection of short chapters that Daniel was writing each day on the subway. I will admit I was emotional by the end but it was worth it. I even want to recommend it to my friends because it was so moving.

I would say that the only down side was proofreading. There were misspelled words and sentences but all books have at least one mistake. I think it’s safe to say if that’s the only downside, then I really enjoyed this book.

This book really does have it all – love, grief, heartbreak and how to survive and live a life after it all.

If you’re interested in buying Daniel’s book you can find it here.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog and tune it for next week’s, where I’ll be interviewing Daniel and asking some questions about his writing.

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Twenty Facts About Me

Well hello there. I think I’m getting the hang of posting regularly! So I am writing this blog because I think it’s good for you guys to get to know a little bit more about me and what I enjoy.
1. I eat way too much chocolate. I am seriously considering making my life ambition to help authors with their chocolate addictions and open up a rehab. 
2. My favourite TV shows are: Friends, Gilmore Girls,The Inbetweeners, Jane the Virgin, The Vampire Diaries and Gavin and Stacey.
3. My most annoying habit is picking my nails.
4. My favourite book right now is probably Every Day by David Levithan.
5. My all time favourite series has got to be the Shiver trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater.
6. My favourite authors are: David Levithan, Rainbow Rowell, John Green, Huntley Fitzpatrick and Maggie Stiefvater (I spoke about this in a recent blog of mine).
7. I’m pansexual.
8. Apart from the UK I have been to Portugal, France, New York and the Spanish island of Ibiza.

9. Places I would like to visit: Italy, LA, Canada and Amsterdam.
10. My middle name is Leigh and my parents picked this because my aunt’s name is “Kayleigh.”
11. My favourite food to eat is chocolate (obviously) and burgers.
12. My favourite drink is probably a latte (none of that complicated crap like strawberry, raspberry and watermelon frappe or decaf soy latte).
13. My favourite number is 13.
14. I have an unhealthy obsession with Taylor Swift and have been a fan since I was seven years old.

15. I am in a long distance relationship.
16. I also have a long distance best friend (all the best people live far away!!)
17. My favourite movie is Bridget Jones (all three of them).
18. I want to become a published writer and freelance editor/proofreader.
19. I love unicorns. I have a onesie, stationary, ornaments, clothes, slippers and even a night light that my partner’s parents bought for me.
20. Three years ago I was suffering with crippling anxiety and couldn’t leave the house. And thanks to the support of friends, family and most of all, Oliver (for pushing me when I just couldn’t face it) I am now able to travel to London alone, go out shopping (I’ve nearly conquered shopping centres) and become so much more confident in myself as a person. Without Oli’s help I wouldn’t be able to do the things I do today.

I hope you guys enjoyed reading 20 facts about me and don’t forget to subscribe and follow my Bookstagram: @neurotic.writer.ramblings

Return to New York

Hey guys!

So Oli and I went back to New York last month and although I hate planes (as I mentioned before), I couldn’t wait to plant my feet on to the New York pavement. This time, Oli bought an explorer pass to visit five attractions in New York.

Day One

On the first day – after a good night’s sleep – we wandered down to our favourite place. That’s right, Dunkin’ Donuts for the best hot chocolate in the world.

We had a bit of a lazy day and walked around the Highline. We’ve walked the Highline before when it had snowed, but it was such a nice day and they always have art displays on the overgrown tracks. They are really interesting to read and the sights over the Highline always puts a smile on my face. Last time, when we went, the Red Arrows were flying over. We were incredibly lucky to see them as they weren’t in the US for very long.

We got back to the hotel and then I had a look on Instagram and saw that there was a Taylor Swift Pop Up. So Oli and I rushed on to the subway and queued for two hours to get in to what Oliver called “a shop” (rolls eyes). However, Oli was kind enough to buy me some Taylor Swift pins and I took some photos of the outfits and I even used the same phone that Taylor used in her Look What You Made Me Do music video.

It turned out that Taylor showed up at the Pop Up 20 minutes after we left so obviously I cried like a little baby. However, I did get two Taylor magazines exclusive to Target so I was rather happy. As you can tell, it was the perfect time to visit New York – a day after the release of her album.

Day Two

The second day was slightly more chaotic as we made our way to the Empire State building. It was a bit foggy so we couldn’t see a lot but the view was breathtaking – you could see everything. We spent a lot of money on souvenirs this time and even bought some Empire State chocolate. We then went to Taylor’s house once again and then to the 9/11 museum. It was very strange and eerie seeing pictures of everyone who tragically died. It’s an amazing place to see though and I highly recommend going.

We then made our way to the Statue of Liberty and bought more souvenirs in the gift shop (a Statue of Liberty Panda and Penguin. Yes, we are daft). It’s surprisingly smaller than I thought it was but it was still a great sight to behold.

We then got on the boat to Ellis Island and went around the museum but we were so tired we could barely walk. The museum is great if you enjoy reading – but for us, we had walked so much we just wanted to sit down! I highly recommend going if you’re interested in the history of Ellis Island. It’s phenomenal how many people came through its doors to live in New York.

Day Three

On our last day, we had Dunkin’ Donuts again (can you tell we’re obsessed?) and made our way to the Intrepid Air, Sea and Space museum where we saw a space shuttle and bought astronaut ice cream. The space shuttle was huge and took us by surprise, It’s crazy to think that something that big has gone to space.

With our legs buckling and being too tired to stand, we made our way (long way) to the Natural History museum through Central Park. I was too hungry to enjoy myself and we kept getting lost. One thing they need more of? Sign posts. However, the museum was interesting and the displays were well put together. There’s so much rich history. I was mostly interested in the animals/bird displays so we wandered around those for a while. There’s a makeshift forest in the middle of the museum and it does feel rather scary! There’s also a huge dining hall where you can pay to spend the evening under a ginormous whale statue.

We had to make our way to the airport for our overnight flight and the turbulence on the plane was the worst I’ve felt – but I did manage to sleep for a while. It was sad to come back to the UK again. We hope we can go back again one day and stay a bit longer. And maybe even live there one day.

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Book Review #4 Girl Hearts Girl by Lucy Sutcliffe

I read Girl Hearts Girl a while ago and posted a review on my old blog which I can’t seem to find. So I will write a new, updated one.

Overview

Lucy Sutcliffe comes from Hertfordshire, England and attended university at Plymouth and completed a degree in film arts. Lucy was in a long distance relationship with Kaelyn Petras who lived in Michigan. Lucy’s autobiography details her life as a young child through to her late teens and is about her coming to terms with who she is as a person. She talks about how she realised she was lesbian and how she came out to her family. She also talks about her and Kaelyn’s relationship which has since ended.

Review

I really enjoyed reading Girl Hearts Girl, not only because I had been watching Kaelyn and Lucy’s relationship and LGBT+ videos for over a year, but also because Lucy was using her platform to publish a book about growing up and coming to terms with who she is.

Kaelyn and Lucy’s videos were always funny and I cried when they made a video about their break up. But since then Lucy seems to be very happy. She stills lives in the US pursuing her creative filming dreams and making YouTube videos.

Lucy seems to have known she was different from other girls but didn’t know why she didn’t like to date boys. It was a few years until Lucy found out what a lesbian was and decided to research it on the best media platform – YouTube. Lucy watched a video of country singer Chely Wright on the Ellen Show and ever since Chely has been one of the people Lucy looks up to.

Overall, this book was a heartfelt story about a young girl coming to terms with the fact she is gay. Lucy befriended Kaelyn online and they were in a long distance relationship until 2014, when Lucy moved to America with Kaelyn. Lucy spent years working on this book and when it came out I waited at Waterstones for them to unpack it!

Even though Lucy’s writing is raw and rough around the edges, this just shows how much emotion and energy went into writing it. Lucy also talks about her battle with anxiety and how she copes with it. It is a wonderful book which will and has helped thousands of teens who are affected by anxiety and need someone to relate to.

I’d have to rate it 5/5 ☆ because it is such a moving book by one of my all time favourite YouTubers.

Links: if you want to watch Lucy’s videos, click here.
If you would like to watch Kaelyn and Lucy’s advice videos, click here.

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Book Review #3 Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews

Hi guys!

I just finished reading Some Assembly Required by Arin Andrews. I did really enjoy reading about his journey and transition and without further ado here is my review!

About

Arin Andrews is transgender and realises this from a young age. However, he doesn’t know what transgender means until he hears about it when he is older. Arin always knew he was different and growing up within a religious family and being transgender is always hard. But thankfully, Arin’s mum came around and helped her son transition and even helped pay for top surgery.

Arin goes on a journey of self discovery as he writes about the friends he lost, relationships he was in and the dysphoria of having to go every day in a body that didn’t match his mind.

Review

I enjoyed this book and all LGBTQ books in general but I love how Arin was so honest about his journey and what he felt as a transgender man. Arin does a lot of good for the LGBTQ community and was even awarded the Carolyn Wagner Youth Leadership Award and has spoken about himself and Katie Hill – his ex girlfriend who is a transgender women – on camera and shows such as the Trisha Goddard show.

The book really showed who Arin is as a person and the hard, painful journey he went on to self discovery. Arin is very open about talking about his transition and says people can contact him if they need help or need to chat. I think he is a very nice young man and I’m so happy his mum came around in helping him transition. His mother is very religious and at first she wasn’t happy about him being with a girl (Arin doesn’t consider himself gay or bisexual but someone who is attracted to people once getting to know their personality) as he was dating Darian who he went to dance class with.

Eventually, because of lack of connection, Arin and Darian broke up and Arin found Katie Hill who is also an activist for the LGBTQ community and has also been awarded the Carolyn Wagner Youth Leadership Award.

Arin and Katie brought out separate books after their break up and Arin was very honest in his book that Katie had cheated on him. However, whenever they were on talk shows together, he would have to pretend that they were in different places. Arin was also with Austin who was briefly mentioned at the end of the book. He is now dating a man called Kelby. He occasionally posts on YouTube and Instagram.

I found it difficult to read about how Arin didn’t want to wear “girls clothes” and wanted to wear “boys clothes” even though clothes don’t have genders and colours are also not associated with males or females. Yet Arin seems to keep going back to the subject of how he wanted to do more boyish things. I don’t think it matters whether you’re a boy and want to dance or you’re a girl and want to be a truck driver. However, Arin did make it clear that from a young age he liked Motocross and eventually joined a flying squadron.

Sourced from Simon and Schuster

One thing that is confusing is that people will say they always knew they were trans and that most people know from a young age. This is true for some trans people, but not all. Not everyone knows from such a young age. Katie Hill says in an interview with Arin that most transgender people know they are trans by the ages of 4 and 5. This is definitely not true. Everyone is different. And everyone realises at different times. Whether you are 4, 10, 15, 25, 50 or so on, you know what you feel and nothing anyone says should make you feel otherwise.

Overall, I would rate this book 4/5 ☆ because I enjoyed hearing Arin’s honesty and his journey. I think lots of transgender or gender questioning people would benefit from this read. There is even a list of resources in the book, movie and book recommendations, how to talk to your new transgender friend guide and a reading group guide.

If you want to know more about Arin and his story, visit his YouTube channel or visit his Instagram: arinandrews

Don’t forget to tell me in the comments what you thought of the book!

My Bookstagram: neurotic.writer.ramblings

New York

For our anniversary, Oliver took us to New York on a big adventure…

For someone who has only been on a two and a half hour plane journey to Portugal, going on an eight hour flight to New York was more than daunting. Turbulence scares the hell out of me and being in a big machine catapulting across the sky obviously brought out my anxiety.

However, our journey there and back with Norwegian was fairly smooth – even though take off is always the worst! For me, I like to grip on to Oli so hard he has to pull my claws off him!

When we landed it took us over an hour to get through the border and we went on the sky train and subway.

Once we got to Hotel Pennsylvania and checked in to our room, our smoke alarm wouldn’t stop beeping, there was mold on the walls and plug sockets hanging askew off the wall. We requested a change of rooms, exhausted (it was nearly 4am UK time). We were so happy with our new room – you wouldn’t think it was the same hotel!

Day One

On our first proper day we headed to Dunkin’ Donuts for the best hot chocolate ever(!!!) and croissants. After that we went on the subway to Tribeca, where Taylor Swift’s apartment is located. Being a Swiftie, this moment was precious to me. I had stood where she stood, walked where she walked. I just wish she had been there!

After seeing Taylor’s apartment we walked to the Brooklyn Bridge, crossed it and had pizza which was only $7! We came back and walked a very long way to the ferry. We thought it would be cheaper to see the Statue of Liberty from the Staten Island ferry than it would be to go and see it close up! (It’s worth it to just go on the ferry unless you’re desperate to get a close up for those Insta posts! 😉)

After walking from the ferry, we went to Ground Zero. It is such a surreal place. You don’t realise how big and wide the towers were. We went to Times Square to get McDonald’s and went back to the hotel.

Once back at the hotel we relaxed, watching Friends in America(!!!), before going out to Times Square for something to eat. We went to Applebee’s but we were so stuffed from croissants, pizza and McDonald’s that we barely ate. We ended up having giant pretzels afterwards though…

Day 2

On day two we went to the Friends Building and fangirled. Then we walked up to the High Line and along it and saw some good art pieces, including this hilarious piece…

While we were walking across the High Line we saw the Patrouille de France who were doing their first tour of the US. We then walked back to Times Square and saw the Rockefeller Centre. Strolling along at this point, our legs killing us, we went to the Gossip Girl Hotel and Grand Central. I pretty much risked my life to take a photo in the middle of the road of Grand Central.

We then went and saw the Chrysler building and the Empire State building and walked back through 5th Avenue to our hotel. And, of course, like the Instagram oriented person that I am, I decided I wanted a photo of the aesthetic brown Starbucks up several blocks from us. At this point I had already gone past a shop full of puppies in the window (cruel, I know. I wanted to take them all home!) and was eagerly trying to catch a look before Oliver pulled me away.

Once I had taken a photo of Starbucks, I was determined to set foot in Barnes and Noble and to take a picture of it. It is every book worm’s dream! It was at least three floors of beautiful bounded books: contemporary, fiction, non-fiction and the classics where I dragged Oli around looking at all the huge books that couldn’t possibly fit in my suitcase. We then went to TGI Fridays for the first time ever – I hadn’t even eaten anything there in the UK.

Day 3

So, after attempting to go to Ellen’s Stardust Dinner for ice cream several times, we decided to wait again on our last day. We waited before and they told us the electric had cut out when we had been waiting half an hour and the queue was stretching further and further down the block. We were told this even though we could clearly see there were people still in the dinner. So on our last day we queued for about forty-five minutes before they told us they were changing the menu from breakfast to lunch and then they told us half an hour later that a group of school children would be taking up the whole dinner – bear in mind the queue was now stretching around the block. We eventually entered after freezing to death for two hours and sat down to order ice cream, just to be told we couldn’t order it as it was melting. I would not recommend this place at all.

After wasting two precious hours in the city that never sleeps, we were starved and started walking to Columbus Circle and to the mall which had the most expensive cafes inside. So eventually we went to Starbucks and walked through Central Park with a pretzel in hand. This was the coldest day we had had and we walked to Belvedere Castle and then hobbled to the MET (aka Gossip Girl steps). Oliver found it hard to walk after the past few days’ adventures. And then we finally went to another Gossip Girl location – the Museum of the City of New York.

Finally, we took the tube and walked past the New York Public Library to TGI Fridays once again for lunch. This time I had a burger instead of salad and it was honestly the best burger I have ever eaten. After lunch we headed to the Flat Iron building and then made our way back home after grabbing more Dunkin’ Donuts!

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