Book Review: It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue And Other Lies – Edited By Scarlett Curtis

It’s OK if everything might feel a bit overwhelming.
It’s OK to talk about it.
It’s OK to not want to talk about it.
It’s OK to find it funny.
It’s OK to be human.”

Back with another book of tackling taboos Scarlett Curtis is talking about mental health and she has even more people coming to write this time.

I pre-ordered this as soon as I found out about it because I absolutely adored the first book Scarlett put together Feminists Don’t Wear Pink And Other Lies , it was a real eye opener and one of my favourites about Feminism. And while this collection is bigger, I can understand why – the topic is something that impacts everyone whether it’s you or someone close to you.

With names such as Emilia Clarke, Adam Kay, Matt Haig, Bryony Gordon, Emma Thompson and Naomi Campbell lending their personal stories and essays to the collection it was going to be interesting. We see these people on the TV, online, out in the world doing great things but knowing that even those who are great have struggled or continue to make people feel less alone.

This is definitely one to pick up and read as much as you can because there are some really heavy subjects in here, obviously, and I definitely think that you need to consider how you’re feeling before you read it. That said, there really is something for everyone in here, no matter what you’ve been through or felt.

About half way through the book I found myself struggling to differentiate between the stories so I switched to the audiobook and found it so much better. A mix of voice actors and those who could read their own stories were recorded. Personally, that made it for me and, stangely, made it more real.

I gave this 4.5 stars. This is the kind of book that we need more of in the world so we know that people are not alone and keep the conversation around mental health going. I think this will be impactful, partly because Scarlett has managed to get well known names that people look up to.

2020 Releases I'm Looking Forward To Part 1

2020 Releases I’m Looking Forward To Part 1

There are set to be some absolute bangers this year in books. While most of these are YA, I am going to try and expand my reading (which is why this is part 1) BUT most of these I’ve been looking forward to for a long time and are part of a series I’ve been reading.

All of these dates are what’s currently listed on Goodreads and may change!

House of Earth and Blood – Sarah J Maas

I absolutely adored A Court of Thorns and Roses and so I’m really excited for this series. There are demons, fallen angels and despite the fact it’s going to be over 800 pages (eek). I’m super excited for this one.

Released: 3rd March

The Invisible Life of Addie La Rue – V.E Schwab

There’s no cover for this yet but it’s a new V.E Schwab so of course I’m super hyped! She’s been talking about this online for a while and in her own words it’s about ‘A French girl makes a deal with the devil, ends up cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. Until 300 years later, when she meets a boy who remembers her name.’

I’m so, so in.

Released: 6th October

Loveless – Alice Oseman

I think Alice Oseman is not only an excellent writer but seems like a pretty great human being. Loveless is a really important book to her with Ace representation and I’m really excited to read it.

Released: 9th July

The Gravity of Us – Phil Stamper

So, I met Phil while we were both studying at Kingston and both up for awards a few years ago and he’s such a lovely guy. There’s a lot of hype about The Gravity Of Us and for good reason, there’s space, there’s social media and a first romance between two guys. So excited.

Released: 4th February (out now!)

Heartstopper Volume 3 – Alice Oseman

I’ve talked about Heartstopper a lot in the past year, it’s one of my favourites and just makes my heart so happy. I’m so excited for volume 3 to see what Nick and Charlie are up to. Roll on February!

Released: 6th February (out now!)

Bridge of Souls (Cassidy Blake #3) – Victoria Schwab

I started this series in 2019 and both books made it into my favourites of 2019. If you haven’t heard about it Cassidy can see ghosts, her best friend Jacob is a ghost and her parents travel around the world making documentaries (although they can’t see them) they also have an adorable cat called Grim. Have I sold it to you yet?

Released: 1st September

Clap When You Land – Elizabeth Acevedo

Two girls who both adore their father are devastated when he dies in a plane crash which soon turns to shock when they learn about each other. I’ve heard a lot about this on American BookTube so I’m looking forward to getting hold of a copy.

Released: 14th May

The Love Hypothesis – Laura Steven

Laura Steven is one of my favourite YA authors and she’s got a pretty great Instagram too. The Love Hypothesis is about a girl who is all about the academics and an over-achiever (guilty) who can’t quite work out love. She also happens to be in love with her best friend. We’re in for a hell of a ride.

Released: 5th March

What else should I be looking out for? Let me know below!

Book Review: The Perfect Dress – Louisa Leaman

Ah, The Perfect Dress one I wouldn’t normally pick up but in the end a fantastic feel-good read.

I’ll be honest, I picked this up because I myself am going to be buying my wedding dress soon (eek!) and it seemed like a fun book with a bit of mystery and intrigue added in as well as not being too taxing while reading. I was all of that and more. I completely and utterly fell in love with the character of Fran and only wanted the best for her throughout.

I didn’t expect the fantastical element to it, the magic that is felt by Fran as she encounters each dress. I wanted to know so much about the brides of the past, the dead grooms that Fran is so fond of and more than anything, I wanted to see Fran happy! It was clear through the way in which Fran was written a lot of research was done into dresses, the history behind certain dresses and their place in fashion history, in fact, I really want to hunt down a few books on wedding dresses through the ages for my own research!

While Raph did give me Mr Darcy vibes and there were a few times I wanted to shake some sense into him I think that he was needed in this book. His scepticism and past really added to the novel and kept it from being too overly sweet the whole time – which I did adore but I also thought he was a good balance throughout.

This novel is an uplifting and fun read that I would recommend to anyone looking for a pick me up. I also found that I couldn’t put it down, I came to really care about Fran and Raphael, who they were and their relationship. I think the only thing I would change is to make it longer! To get to know more about them separately, particularly Raph’s relationship with her younger sister.

Overall I gave this 4 stars a really enjoyable read.

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

So, What Was It Like To Work In A Bookshop?

So, What Was It Like To Work In A Bookshop?

At the end of 2019 I got to tick off a teenage dream of mine – I got to work in a bookshop. Yes! Almost 10 years after my work experience in the local bookshop I was offered a 6 week contract over the festive period – woo! So, did it live up to my expectations? What was it like to work over Christmas? Keep reading and all will be revealed…

Being surrounded by books all day every day was wonderful and dangerous.

I spent a fair amount of the money that I earned in the shop on more books. I also go ARCs and trades from other booksellers. Ali wasn’t best pleased that I’m now in need of another bookshelf but he knew who he was moving in with!

Also my mental ‘to buy’ list is even longer.

Regular customers are the best

The absolute best and generally really nice people who loved recommendations, which leads me on to my next point…

Giving recommendations was so much fun

Probably my favourite part of the day, which I got to do a lot. I particularly liked the challenge of someone who had read a lot. I even managed to get a few people to pick up YA books who wouldn’t normally.

Kids still read – a lot

And I love it. One of the departments I helped most with was Kids and Young Adult. So many people say that kids don’t read and I’m here to tell you that they really, really do!

As with anything there are readers and people who prefer other things. There was nothing that warmed my heart more than a kid telling me about their favourite books and what they liked. I also loved the challenge of trying to find books for people who ‘don’t really read’.

Sometimes you will get asked baffling questions or comments and you question the majority of the human race

I once had a friend who was asked if they sold sports equipment…in a bookshop. I also had a lot of people telling me their conspiracy theories about Greta Thunberg. Trying not to react was the haaaaardest thing. So hard.

The people you work with make or break the job

I’ve worked in retail before, from the age of 16 up until I was 19 I had some retail jobs and I didn’t really enjoy them. Some of them I’d go as far as to say I couldn’t stand BUT this was completely different.

As I write this I still talk to a lot of the team, I go in regularly and they all know I miss them like mad. They’re an incredible team of people and I’m pleased that they’re still my friends who I can go and bug and they can’t escape haha!

There are parts of your feet that you don’t know exist until they are throbbing in pain

Oh my goodness my feet. Shout out to Sketchers because before I started wearing them (thanks Nanna!) I was in horrific pain with not just my feet but my ankles and my knees because of Hypermobility.

Even after I started wearing them I would come home at nice and my feet would throb. There were a lot of baths, a lot of painkillers and a lot of wincing.

People can be arseholes for no reason

Most of the customers we had were lovely people, then you got some who treated you like you were stupid or were just generally unpleasant. I had someone shout at me because they hadn’t found the book they wanted and I was daring to go home (literally had my coat on and was getting a lift home). I had another person throw a tantrum because they ordered something too late. Some people were just rude because…people.

It’s a physically tough job

I have so much respect for my friends who work in the shop who do it say in day out. Anyone in retail actually. Physically it’s an incredibly demanding job, mentally it can be too and a lot of people in retail do a lot of work for not a lot of pay.

Would I recommend it?

Mostly, yes I loved my time there. I do think that, in general the people in the store every could and should be treated with more respect because they literally keep the business going! They’re also human which is forgotten.

Book Review: Full Disclosure – Camryn Garrett

Simone Garcia-Hampton is starting over at a new school, and this time things will be different. She’s making real friends, making a name for herself as student director of Rent, and making a play for Miles, the guy who makes her melt every time he walks into a room. The last thing she wants is for word to get out that she’s HIV-positive, because last time . . . well, last time things got ugly.

When this book came up on NetGalley I was intrigued because it was a new concept for YA, in terms of books I had read. Personally, I’d never read anything with a young character who has HIV and those I want to read are set in the 1980s.

There was also a lot of representation throughout. Simone’s Dad’s are gay, she has friends who are Asexual, Gay, etc. There are characters who are biracial, there’s definitely been an effort here to be inclusive to a wide range of people which I hope will be appreciated.

This adds another voice to young adult literature and one that isn’t filled with a lack of hope. Simone is a young woman who is HIV positive but she’s also smart, she’s actively trying to work out how to live her life to the fullest, including sexual relationships.

The aspect of sex and teenagers was handled really well too, it was open and honest. Teenagers are curious about sex, they want to know about it and just because someone has HIV that doesn’t change anything which is well conveyed.

Additionally, there are some really great and supportive relationships in the form of family and friend and they all are pretty real, not just left to the side while the focus was all on Simone.

This was a 5 star read for me an an excellent new voice that I think it needs to be put into schools, given out in whatever PSHE/Health classes are called now and generally shouted about. An excellent book and really well thought out.

Thank you to the publisher, author and Netgalley for a copy in exchange for an honest review.

My 7 Top Tips To Read More

My 7 Top Tips To Read More

I have had a lot of messages recently about how much I read and how on earth do I read so much. Partially, it’s because I’ve been posting my reading updates on Instagram (don’t forget to follow me here) with everything I finish and so far, so good for 2020!

So I thought why not pop it in a blog and share with you guys how I get through an average of 100 books per year.

Read short books to get you in the swing of things

There is no point in starting War and Peace if you’re not a regular reader of you’ve been in a bit of a slump. Shorter books are a great way to get into a story and feel a sense of accomplishment that you’ve finished a book!

Read what you enjoy!

Love romance books? Go for it. Think YA is incredible? I agree? Or maybe you want to read about farms in the 1800s? You do you. There can be a lot of snobbery over what people read but, honestly, it’s no one else’s business if you enjoy it.

Join a Book Club

I took a chance, joined a book club and met some of my closest friends as well as being introduced to some of my new favourite books like A Winter’s Promise.

Book clubs are great to encourage you and introduce you to books that you might not have tried otherwise. Also the good ones also have sweet treats, just saying.

Absorb books in the best way for you

Hardback, paperback, ebook, audiobook – they’re all ways of enjoying a book. Some people enjoy listening and get more from it.

Take a book with you wherever you go

This is where the Kindle app is great because you’ve always got a book on you as long as you have your phone and you can get books for as little as 99p!

Or just put a read in your bag so if you get delayed/ are waiting for something/ have a quiet lunch break and are in the mood to read.

Set time aside to read

Whenever works for you but if you really want to read make time for it. For me, it’s normally in the evenings so I can get away from screens and chill out.

I also used to use any time I was on a train or bus because the only other thing I could do was sit on my phone. I’d probably read a lot more if I didn’t have my phone…

Goal orientated? Set that goal!

If goals work for you – set one. Even if it’s 1 book for the whole year or , if you’re completely mad like me, 100 books. I love having a goal and tracking them on Goodreads and it really motivates me to keep reading when I’m in a slump.

Book Review: Over The Top – Jonathan Van Ness

Who gave Jonathan Van Ness permission to be the radiant human he is today? No one, honey. The truth is, it hasn’t always been gorgeous for this beacon of positivity and joy.

Before he stole our hearts as the grooming and self-care expert on Netflix’s hit show Queer Eye, Jonathan was growing up in a small Midwestern town that didn’t understand why he was so…over the top. 

Whew! This book! If you read my ‘Top Books of 2019’ post then you will know that Jonathan was on that list and my favourite non-fiction book of the entire year. So, you can bet this is going to be a glowing review.

I didn’t know that much about Jonathan apart from the few episodes of Queer Eye that I watched where I absolutely adored him. Who was this guy with fabulous hair and who I wanted to have as a friend? Then I started seeing him on interviews everywhere and the stories he told to presenters made it so that I needed to know more, so I got the audiobook.

The only way to listen to this book is with Jonathan narrating it and it was absolute perfection, I couldn’t have asked for more. Looking at Jonathan’s roller coaster life makes the book so fast that I found myself wanting more, even though we get his whole life story. From a child who was different to a young adult struggling with himself and addiction and the long journey to become the fun loving guy we see on TV.

What I appreciated most about this book is that Jonathan is incredibly real. He has a positive attitude but is completely honest about his darker times, that he wasn’t a person we’d want to know at times. About the fact that his issues are something he has to work through every day as well as living with a HIV positive diagnosis.

You probably will have seen Jonathan campaigning for HIV awareness and for support for the community so that they can get the right treatment no matter what. I learnt so much about HIV from what Jonathan had written and looked into it further so I could understand and that’s going to have a legacy of its own.

I think you’d probably guess that this was a 5 star read for me, I absolutely adored this book and Jonathan because it was so raw and honest without being all doom and gloom. That said, the appropriate attention is given to the seriousness of certain topics. I loved it and I’ve been recommending it to EVERYONE. What are you waiting for honey? Go add it to that to read list!