Book Review – Dear Martin

Dear Martin

Justyce is a straight-A student headed to one of the top universities in the world, he’s smart, kind and a good guy. That doesn’t stop him being racially profiled by a police officer and put in handcuffs for no reason. Trying to make sense of it all he starts writing letters to Martin Luther King Jr and his personal project is born.

I’d heard about this on Booktube a little bit but I honestly think that it deserves more attention. This is a novel that gets to your heart. This looks at a situation of not quite feeling like you fit. Justyce is from what is regarded as a rough neighbourhood but on a scholarship to an incredibly prestigious school. He is caught between the two and it is important to look at how he copes and at how racism exists and breeds in a privileged setting.

One of a string of novels to come from the injustice in the USA change is happening. It is a change we need to happen. I’m not nieve enough to think that the UK doesn’t have problems with race, a lot needs to change here, but what is happening in the US is on another level to anything I’ve ever seen. So many needless deaths and violence because of someone’s skin colour. It makes your heart and your head hurt.

The reason that this got 4 stars is because there were elements I found a little problematic for me. Some of the language that the boys use about women was a little extreme but this might be how she chose to present the characters. I also felt like the ending was quite sudden. This is a relatively short novel and I would have loved for it to have had more towards the end.

Overall, I thought it was an engaging and important novel. Nic Stone is definitely one to watch and I’m looking forward to seeing what she does next.

Have you read Dear Martin? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.

Does Positivity Work With Pain Management

Does Positivity Work in Pain Management?

Hello, my lovely readers!

Today I want to talk about managing pain. It will come as no surprise to my regular readers I think about this more than most people after an accident a few years ago. I live with chronic pain and most people don’t know when they meet me it can be pretty surprising because I’m very positive as a person. And that’s central to today’s post, does positivity work?

I’ve met with a lot of doctors and multiple times I’ve been told ‘your positive attitude will pull you through pain’. A few years ago I would have scoffed and I definitely think this doesn’t apply to every situation. When I first broke my back positivity wasn’t happening, I was in agony and when I wasn’t I was asleep. Then it came to recovery and my attitude did play a big part.

In Recovery 

This was probably the hardest time to be positive. There were a lot of things up in the air at this time, I was obviously in a lot of pain and having to navigate what was going on. That said trying to keep some positivity was important, particularly in physiotherapy because that shit can get tough! I kept focused on getting better and other positive things and it definitely helped.

In Diagnosis 

Diagnosis was weird, I was happy to have an answer, horrified about what it meant for me and wanting to look at what I could do next. It was a mix of emotions. No matter what I had this determination not to give up, I had to still live my life. I got told time and time again the determination and all the positivity I could muster would get me where I wanted to be.

In Life

Ah life, it does like to give you a kick when you don’t need it. Life is hard, people try and say it’s not but let’s be real. So, staying positive in life when your body hurts all over? I take it one day at a time. That’s honestly it. The only future things I try to focus on are things I’m looking forward to, I try and write down one thing a month and when I’m in a lot of pain have the mentality that this will pass and once it does I’m a bit closer to the thing I’m looking forward to.

 

So, yes I do think positivity plays a huge part BUT having time to be upset, to struggle and to be furious is a big part of recovery. Do I have days where I’m pissed off or I cry because things changed? Of course, I do. Sometimes I have weeks where I feel this way. THIS IS NORMAL! That said, I do feel that, if and when you can be trying to be positive is important.

How do you stay positive? Let me know in the comments below!

Illumicrate Unboxing – June 2018

Illumicrate 2018 unboxing

It’s time for another illumicrate unboxing! I absolutely love getting these boxes by monthly, it’s like a little present for myself and it’s not my ONLY subscription box going! So this is the June 2018 box. As always this is an unboxing so there are going to be spoilers! If you don’t want to be spoilt then pop back when you’ve seen the box yourself!

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Light Years – Kass Morgan 

Our first book this month is set in space with some forbidden love and a space boarding school. Now, this isn’t something I would pick up for myself, but I’m going to give it a flick through and give it a try, you never know! The full blurb of this is here.

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A Thousand Perfect Notes –  C.G. Drews

Now, this is much more my kind of book. Again we have another book focused on love. This time following a guy who is forced to play the piano by his violent mother, who is within touching distance of love. I’m really interested in this because of the author C.G Drews – also known as PaperFury online. I’m really looking forward to reading this one.

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Box designed by Alice Oseman (Exclusive) 

So Alice Oseman isn’t just a fantastic writer, she’s also an artist? Is there anything the amazing lady can’t do! This little lunchbox (that’s what I’m going to use it for) is adorable and I am in love with the design.

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Black Panther Inspired Book Sleeve (Exclusive)

Ok, time for a confession…I haven’t watched Black Panther. I know, I know I’m so late to the party. That said I like this, I’ve really wanted a book sleeve because I like my books being pristine. So I’m just going to have to watch it so that I can use this!

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Camp Half-Blood Pin (Exclusive), I Was Born For This Pin and Elements Page Markers (Exclusive) 

So, it seems to be a month for ‘things Chloe has never experienced’ Percy Jackson isn’t something I’ve read, it was around when I was younger but I never picked it up. That said it is a wonderfully made Pin and I love the detail. Next up a badge to promote Alice Oseman’s latest book I Was Born For This which is currently on my TBR pile and I’m really looking forward to. And then on to the Elements page markers

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How Do You Like Me Now Sample and Grey Sister Bookmark

Next up some paper goodies, a sample of Holly Bourne’s new adult novel which I actually received an early release of so I can think of someone who might like this snippet. We also had a dagger-shaped bookmark to celebrate the release of Grey Sister, a follow up to Red Sister which was a novel we received last year.

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Bookish Postcards

We also had our bookish postcards, as seen. I really likes the From Twinkle, With Love postcard, it is such a sweet quote and is making me more interested in picking up the novel when it’s released.

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Infernal Devices Cards (Exclusive) – designed by @anotherstudio_

Well, you’ve guessed it, I haven’t read the Infernal Devices series! I have no idea what’s going on this month I feel like I’m so behind with my YA reading! That said I really like these cards, they are beautifully designed and I like the artwork style.

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Overall

Well, this was a packed box indeed! Another box full of great quality items. Every two months when this box arrives I’m so pleased because it is always worth the money, which is important because I’ve ordered so many boxes that turned out to be tat. I will say I would have loved to have seen something Pride month related in this box with all the amazing YA out there but that’s just me!

Is there anything that has caught your eye? Or maybe you got our own Illumicrate box! Let me know in the comments below.

Book Review: Bookshop Girl – Chloe Coles

Bookshop Girl - Chloe Coles

Sixteen-year-old Paige Turner loves her job working in her local bookshop, the only good thing about the small town she lives in. That is until she is told her beloved bookshop is going to be closed down to make way for a bigger shopping complex, but Paige decides she’s going to fight to save the shop she loves so much.

I was lucky enough to be granted an ARC copy of this via NetGalley and this is a book I’ve heard a lot about. I thought the subject matter was great. A teen who has a cause and does something about it? Count me in and about bookshops which are one of my happy places. So I could get behind this novel.

I really enjoyed the fact that Paige had other interests rather than just books too. She’s an artist, she’s thinking about uni and the wider world, something I could relate to. There was also a really strong feminist message too, did I think it entirely went with the book, no, but I appreciated it being there.

There were points where I felt the novel was trying too hard to be young and cool. There were a lot of OMG and LOL’s which I kind of cringed at. Maybe that’s just because I wasn’t like that as a teenager but, yeah, I felt like it needed to calm down and just be rather than trying to be overly teenager.

One of my other gripes was the love interest, I felt like it was quite predictable and the twist at the end I saw coming from quite early in the novel. That and I don’t think it added to the plot or character development, he could have been cut out and I would not have been bothered at all.

Overall I gave this a 3.5 stars, I did really enjoy this and will definitely be picking up the second novel, but felt it was a little young for me. I fully appreciate that I am not 16 but some of the language used seemed a little young for me, hence it not quite hitting 5 stars. This is an easy summer read and I would recommend it!

The Friendship Evolution

The Friendship Evolution

Ah, friendship, something important and lovely but not many people talk about how friendships need to change and evolve to survive. I’ve had quite a few friendships that have broken down for various reasons, we’ve grown apart, grown up or found out we’re just not compatible. So I wanted to write about some of my friendships and how they’ve evolved in certain situations.

 

Me and Joe London MAy 2018

After Graduating

I don’t quite know how I would have gotten through uni without my friend Joe. We’ve been best friends for years now and we went from seeing each other multiple times a week to graduating and being lucky to see each other once a month. It’s tough because there are times when I just want to hang out but one of us has to get a train and we have to organise it and, don’t tell him, but I miss him like hell.  Our friendship had to evolve and we have to communicate, which luckily for us isn’t a problem but we’ve needed to be more organised.

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Friendship Additions

When Abbie and I became friends a few years ago we were happy just the two of us, and then two became three and it only got better! So, it went like this. I have been friends with a guy called Ben since I was 17, Ben meets Abbie and they get together and we become friends. Still with me? Ok. Sarah, is Ben’s cousin who met Abbie at a family gathering. Now we are all close friends. So Abbie and I had to make room to become a three and it did take adjusting, not worrying if one talked to the other more etc. I for one am just happy we now have Sarah in our lives, she’s amazing and fits with both of us so well.

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Babies

I’ve known my friend Lucy since I was eleven years old. I was the kid with a school fleece on the first day (I still blame the terrible woman in the school shop, they clearly hadn’t sold one in years and smelt my weakness), she had a mass of frizzy hair that earned her the nickname, Frizz. Now we’re very similar, which meant we fought a lot, teenage hormones will do that. We drifted apart a little as we got older and didn’t become best friends until we were seventeen, after the birth of her daughter.

Luce will be the first to tell you that being a Mum of two at twenty-three wasn’t the plan she had at eleven, but you only have to watch her to know she’s damn good at it. So Lexi came and we were a pair of seventeen-year-olds, still trying to work ourselves out but now with a tiny person who I loved so, so much. We had fights still, we were still stubborn but was always came back because there was a little person. Then, while I was on a bus a few years later at university I got a text: ‘ I needed to tell you something’, I joked back ‘you’re not pregnant are you?’ and then a picture came back of two blue lines. That’s how I found out about Ollie.

Our friendship isn’t what we thought it would be at twenty-three, because neither of us saw this coming but we’re closer than we’ve ever been. We are different people but love each other so much and don’t pretend we know exactly what the other is going through but we’re always there for each other.

 

How have your friendships evolved over the years? Let me know in the comments below!

Talking About Suicide

Talking About Suicide

In the past week we have seen two very public celebrity deaths by suicide and, of course, there has been a lot of posts, tweets and more about mental health, about suicide. It would be stupid to say that these are easy conversations, that they are pleasant to think about, but they are important.

Within hours of Kate Spade’s death being announced, those closest to her were said to comment on the ‘obsession’ she had over Robin Williams’ death, a picture of her body being removed in a body bag appeared. What seemed to be missing, was how we talk about suicide.

I’ve noticed, and I’m sure others have too, that time and time again there is a narrative of, oh we can’t believe it, this is so unexpected. But, why is it? Whether you are rich or poor, depression is an illness that doesn’t discriminate. Suicidal thoughts can and do happen to millions across the globe.

Instead of focusing on the details of those who have passed, why not look at what can be done to prevent deaths in future. Why don’t we look around us and understand it? I know, for a fact, that mental health services in my own country are at breaking point. That waiting lists are of a year or more. That people of all ages cannot get the help that they desperately need because of budget cuts.

Talking about suicide shouldn’t be taboo, it is sad, it is upsetting but it shouldn’t be hidden. What good will it do? I’d go as far as to say that it does a disservice to those who died this way. We should learn and support those still living so that they don’t feel the loneliness that leads them to view death as their only option.

 

Feminist Friday Returns!

Yes, you read that right I’m bringing back Feminist Friday.

I was really unsure for a while, I wasn’t getting the response I wanted, feeling generally deflated. Then I read a few books, got mad about sexism and started writing again. Really writing for a few weeks and, well, I decided that I wanted to bring this back.

I’m not sure it will be every week, I’m not sure exactly what I’m going to be writing about. There will be opinions and poetry and hopefully other women writing about things they are passionate about too.

Let’s start a revolution!

Book Review: Nobody Told Me: Poetry and Parenthood – Holly McNish

Nobody Told Me Hollie McNish

 

Holly McNish is on her way to Glastonbury when she decides to take a pregnancy test, the blue lines appear and it’s not long after that Hollie starts writing her thoughts and feelings down. This continues throughout the entirety of her pregnancy all the way through to her child’s third birthday. A collection of diary entries and poetry.

I picked this up while waiting for the train after seeing it on a list of incredible poetry collections. Seeing as my dissertation and another of my final essays was about the female body, motherhood and poetry so of course, I wanted to read this. It was even better than I could have imagined.

I want to point out that I’ve never had children but I loved this collection and found it SO relatable. At each and every point in this Hollie is honest about her feelings. She talks about the changes in her body during pregnancy, birth and post birth and how they make her feel. The resentment she sometimes feels for her partner. The need she had to go back to work while struggling with the guilt of being a working mother.

It won’t be much of a surprise to say that I really, really enjoyed this collection. It is a lot bigger than most poetry collections but I think that’s because it does have the prose/diary entries too rather than just poems. I felt like that is what made it better though. There was so much to say and it didn’t feel crammed.

I gave this the full 5 stars and I can’t wait to read more of Hollie’s work. There is honesty, humour and wise words within this book and I want to recommend it to all of my poetry-loving friends. An absolutely fantastic read and I cannot recommend it enough.

The Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag 2018!

I hate to alarm you guys but, we’re halfway through the year… It’s fine, it’s cool, I’m not freaking out, you’re freaking out. That also means it’s time for the Mid-Year Book Freak Out and I am so ready! I’ve watched and read these tags for years and finally wanted to have a go myself.

The best book you’ve read so far in 2018:

Only Child - Rhiannon Navin

This is so, so hard… probably Only Child by Rhiannon Navin, her debut was incredible. Absolutely incredible. It is a pretty tough novel about a school shooting seen through the eyes of a child who loses his brother. A novel about family and grief, through the innocent eyes of a little boy.  The writing is incredible, the story heartbreaking and it’s a book that stays with you. I can’t wait to see what Rhiannon does next. My full review is here.

Your favourite sequel of the year:

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This was an AMAZING follow up to A Court of Thorns and Roses . There was excellent character development, the plot was brilliant and I wish I could say more but I don’t want to ruin the series. I just didn’t see the twists and turns coming and I loved it so much.

A new release that you haven’t read but really want to:

Tyler Johnson Was Here

Tyler Johnson Was Here has been all over Booktube and I hadn’t seen it anywhere in my local bookshops and then I went to Foyles and there it was. Not only is this a really important novel about race the cover is beautiful. I really, really hope this lives up to the hype. Full blurb here.

Most anticipated release for the second half of the year:

The Curses - Laure Eve

I loved The Graces last year and the publication date for the second novel keeps changing so I’m really hoping we do get this in 2017, even though it says the scheduled release is currently the 6th September 2018 according to Amazon. I need this book in my hands after the end of The Graces. Need, need, need.

Your biggest disappointment:

Clean Juno Dawson

I try not to be negative but I really hated this novel. I made me so angry and irritated as someone who has and does live with a mental health condition. This was just very privileged and I don’t think it did the recovery process justice. Reading about a rich girl who gets whisked to a rehab that gives you Calvin Klein pjs just didn’t appeal to me when most people wouldn’t have that opportunity. Obviously, these are just my feelings.

Biggest surprise of the year:

Saga Vol 1 - Brian K Vaughan

Saga was something I meant to get around to, but I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. It was absolutely amazing and I’ve been making my way through all 8 volumes ready for volume 9 to come out in October.

Favourite new-to-you or debut author:

The Exact Opposite of Okay - Laura Steven

I definitely fangirled when Laura Steven replied to me on Twitter. I tried to get all of my friends to read this as soon as I finished. This is the kind of YA voice that we need! This looks at sexism and double standards but also manages to make you laugh the whole way through? You can read my full review here and then get on and buy it people!

Your fictional crush:

Rhysand – the ACOTAR series. Do I really need to say more?

New favourite character:

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Feyre – A Court of Thorns and Roses

I think Feyre is an absolutely amazing character. I read all three of the ACOTAR books in a month and I just found her to be a great protagonist. She’s not perfect, she has her own mental battles to fight. I think she’s ace and I wish I could go into more detail as to why but I don’t want to ruin the series.

A book that made you cry:

With The End in Mind - Katheryn Mannix

With the End in Mind: Death, Dying and Wisdom in an Age of Denial by Kathryn Mannix

A book about death making me cry? Not exactly a shock. I read this for the Wellcome book prize and it was beautifully written. The kindness, compassion and intelligence of this book is nothing I’ve ever seen before and it will definitely get you talking.

A book that made you happy:

A Court of Frost and Starlight - Sarah J Maas

This book just felt like coming home. This is the novella to accompany the ACOTAR series which, I know, I’ve gone on about a lot in this blog. This is a short read with all the feels. I can’t wait for the next novel in the series!

Your favorite book-to-movie adaptation that you’ve seen this year:

I haven’t seen any book to movie adaptions this year! None that I can remember anyway…

Favorite book post you’ve done this year:

Hmmm, tough one. I actually think it’s the unpopular opinions book tag! It was good to get a few things off my chest!

The most beautiful book you’ve bought/received this year:

The Surface Breaks - Louise O'Neill

The Surface Breaks – Louise O’Neil

Just look at this cover, isn’t it so, so beautiful! Even without the dust jacket, it was beautiful.

What are some books you need to read by the end of the year?

I wrote a post about the books I wanted to read in 2018 and there are only two on there I need to read to meet my goal. I’d also like to get around to the following 2018 releases:

(Don’t) Call Me Crazy – Anthology

Notes on a Nervous Planet – Matt Haig 

How to Be Famous – Caitlin Moran 

Just wanting to point out that, obviously, I didn’t come up with this tag, it has been floating around forever! If you do this tag yourself, I’d love to see your answers so link me below!

 

What I Read in May!

Another reading month been and gone! This month I managed to read a total of 8 books, which isn’t bad but is slightly less than I’ve read in previous months. Still, two a week is great and I had some cracking 5 star reads! So why not just jump right in and see what I’ve been reading this month!

I started the month by finishing an audiobook or Unbroken by Martine Wright. Martine lost both her legs in the 7/7 bombings, despite thing she went on to be one of the London 2012 Paralympians. This was such a tough but worthwhile read that got 5 stars from me and there will be a full review soon! Following this, I got my hands on the new ACOTAR novella by Sarah J Maas and it was just a nice warm story to bridge the gap towards the original trilogy and new books coming up, which I am SO excited for, this also got 5 stars a strong start.

Next up I continued my Saga journey with volume 3, so far this is my least favourite volume but it still got 4 stars because I could see why but read on for my volume 4 thoughts. I then read Orphan Monster Spy a historical fiction novel and I absolutely LOVED it. It’s about a teenage Jewish girl infiltrating a Nazi boarding school, standard. This also got a 5 star rating from me!

Next up was Light Filters In by Caroline Kaufman which I was kindly sent by the publisher. I hadn’t come across Kaufman before and liked the idea of the collection and what it had done and it was a good first collection, but not entirely to my taste so I gave it 3 stars. Next up Saga volume 4 and I loved it, it’s taken the series in a different direction that I didn’t see coming. I can’t wait to get to volume 5!

Next up I finally finished the final few chapters of With The End in Mind which is just so emotional, hence me finally reading the last few chapters this month. I loved it and gave it 5 stars, you can see what all the fuss is about here. And last but not least I got my hands on the stunning new novel by Louise O’Neill, The Surface Breaks. This is a feminist retelling of the Little Mermaid and I think I’m going to give it 4 stars because the ending was so great, there will be a full review to come!

What did you read in May? Have you read any of the books I have? Let me know in the comments below!