Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Editing Emma Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the Editing Emma blog tour! Today I have a brilliant guest post from Chloe Seager on growing up online and I'm giving 3 of my lucky readers the chance to win a copy of the book over on Twitter.

Online Pressures For This Generation by Chloe Seager

When I was a teenager, I don’t think I realised just how new or strange a thing social media really was. I was part of the first generation who grew up with it, and everything in my life being public seemed pretty normal to me. I remember my Mum being totally scandalised by pictures of me and my friends in bikinis ‘on the internet?!’ and shaking her head at our constant selfie-sharing. But looking back, I think I’ve gained some perspective on what a strange thing it actually can be, and what kind of additional pressures social media put on my teenage years. 

Genuinely, I went through a phase where I almost felt like things weren’t real unless they were put online. Like, if we didn’t get a photo of our evening out…did it even happen? I also went through a phase where if I had a terrible time, I would think to myself, ‘it’s ok, at least I got some pictures that look like I’m having a good time.’ Looking back, these aren’t particularly healthy thoughts for a young person to be having. What kind of value system is that? One where I comfort my lonely, sad self with the image of myself seeming happy and fulfilled? In many ways, I think I could even look at pictures of times that were truly awful and convince myself I was having fun…which is even more bizarre than convincing other people.

Thinking about it, though, it’s not all that surprising. When you’re fourteen years old and everything in your life starts getting uploaded, to start defining yourself by that content almost seems inevitable… or at least, for the lines to blur. Even if I knew logically that other people weren’t always as they appeared in their content - I got told it time and time again, and I knew that I myself wasn’t always completely truthful - all these smiling, shining pictures of other people did (and still do) make it hard sometimes. And probably for some people more than me, who was lucky enough to have a decent group of pals. A friend I met in adult life said before social media came along, she might have been at home alone on a Friday night…but no one would know about it. She knew on a vague level that other people were probably out having fun, but didn’t have to get smacked in the face with it. But once Facebook happened, not only did she know for sure that she was never invited to parties, but it was also suddenly like everyone else could see her own lack of social life. ‘Why are there never any pictures of you?’ they would ask. It highlighted how left out she was at school in a very public domain, to the point where she considered taking dressed-up selfies that made her look like she was going out. (She didn’t do this in the end, and deleted her social media instead).

I think it must be even worse for teenagers now than it was for my generation. I did definitely think about how I was coming off - what with reams of embarrassing photos being uploaded against my will, and thinking ‘I look so ugly there’ and ‘how dare they upload this,’ and obviously using it to look a certain way (a la Emma) e.g. wanting to look like I was having tons of fun even if I wasn’t, or wanting to seem like I was SUPER HAPPY AND FINE to spite an ex boyfriend or a mate I was fighting with. But I do think it’s even more extreme now. Probably the most creative choice I’d ever made on social media was what song to choose for my MySpace profile, and now each and every photo that gets uploaded has a zillion filter choices. It’s a whole different world than it was ten years ago and in general I think the emphasis is now on quality over quantity, which in many ways puts way more focus onto one’s image.

There are benefits to this, though. I asked my boyfriend recently, who never got a FB account as a teenager, but did get Insta later on. He said he didn't like the way Facebook made his whole life public in a way he couldn’t fully control, whereas with Instagram he mainly chooses what to share. In a way I totally understand that… It also gives room for you to be creative and explore your own identity, which is such a huge part of being a teenager. But imagining my teenage self with Instagram, I can see just how incredibly neurotic I would have become. It’s not just ‘here’s me on a night out,’ any more, it’s like… ‘here’s my bedroom,’ ‘here’s my plate of food,’ ‘here’s my everything’ etc etc. I think though the amount of content might have decreased, people expect to share even more aspects of their lives now than ten years ago, and naturally, the need to present oneself a certain way will become more extreme along with it.

I think social media can be wonderful but as with anything, it has its pros and cons. It’s great way for teenagers to connect, but it can also compound loneliness, and exacerbate what can already be an isolating period. It’s a great way to express yourself and be creative, and I think it allows teenagers to be more switched on and worldly than people without it would have been. But then again, figuring out who you’re supposed to be over those years is difficult enough, without doing it in public. It seems like it applies pressure for the decision to be right now, and to be fully formed. Whilst it can give you a boost, it can also make you feel low and leads people into pretending or putting up a front. In the end, I eventually figured out how to use it in a way I was happy with; everyone probably has a different relationship with it and needs to find their own balance. But I don’t envy teenagers (like Emma!) having to go through that. In hindsight, it was such a big part of my own teenage life that I knew I wanted to write about it in Editing Emma.

For your chance to win a copy of Editing Emma head over to Twitter 

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Review for Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison

Freshers by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison 
Publisher: Chicken House
Release: 3rd August 2017
Genre: YA, Contemporary
Source: Copy received from the publisher in exchange for an honest review

"Uni beckons. Phoebe can't wait to be a fresher - especially since her crush from school will be there too. She'll be totally different at Uni: cooler, prettier, smarter ... the perfect potential girlfriend. She'll reinvent herself completely. But Luke's oblivious, still reeling from the fallout of the break-up with his ex. Thrown head first into a world of new friends, parties and social media disasters - can Phoebe and Luke survive the year, let alone find each other?"

I’m a massive fan of Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison’s debut novel Lobsters and am happy to confirm that with Freshers they’ve delivered another hilariously honest story on what it’s like to be a young adult.

The book is told in a dual narrative between Phoebe and Luke who went to school together and are starting their first year at the same university. Phoebe’s had a massive crush on Luke forever and she hopes that at university she’ll get the chance to come out of her shell and be the person she’s always wanted to be. Luke on the other hand had the dream high school experience as a popular jock with a beautiful long-term girlfriend. Now that he’s at uni he’s a fish out of water struggling to keep his long-distance relationship going and make new friends. As the two characters bond during freshers week we follow their relationship and the highs and lows of their lives as students.

Freshers delivered everything I was expecting from a book by Tom and Lucy. It’s funny, relatable and honestly feels like taking a peek at the lives of real teens. This book delivers all of the craziness that you’d expect from a book set during Freshers offering both painfully awkward and laugh out loud scenes. Some of my favourite moments included sexual mishaps, Phoebe and her friends standing up for the sisterhood, and Quidditch matches to name just a few.

I’d highly recommend this book about growing up, moving on and finding your place in the world. It’s an absolute must read for anyone heading off to university this year.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

July Favourites: Books, Benedict and Dragons

Hello everybody! I hope you're all doing well? Did any of you go to YALC? I was so sad to miss it this year due to anxiety but there was still plenty of things that made July a great month for me that I want to share with you all today so, *puts on best Daenerys Targaryen voice* shall we begin?

Favourite Books


I had a really great reading month in July and read a total of nine books but my two absolute favourites happen to both be thrillers. The first is Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell, if you follow me on Instagram this will come as no surprise to you as I was raving about this book on my story. It was a solid five star read for me. If you're looking for a book that grips you from the first page and refuses to let you go then you'll devour this book just like I did. My review for Then She was Gone is already up so if you'd like to find out more you can check it out here. The second thriller I loved was The Secrets She Keeps by Michael Robotham this is such a heartbreaking thriller following the relationship between two very complex women as they bond over being pregnant in the months leading up to their babies births. The writing style was utterly gripping and like watching a car crash, I couldn't look away as I watched these two women's lives crash and collide with devastating consequences. This was my first book by Michael Robotham and I'll definitely be looking out for more of his work.

Favourite to Watch

Game of Thrones is back and so really there is only one contender for what's been my favourite thing to watch this month! We're only three episodes in but it already feels like so much has happened! I don't want to talk about plot for anyone who hasn't watched it yet and wants to so all I'll say is I am enjoying this season a LOT and can't wait to see what else unfolds now that we're closing in on the end.

Favourite Online 

So much has been going on in the bookish community this past month from Benedict Cumberbatch witnessing Non Pratt's charity head shave at YALC (I was literally howling at the tweets, pictures and videos!) to all of the readathon's that have been taking place in July. But for my favourite online I wanted to throw some love in the direction of a new book blogger who has been making the community such a sunny place with her passion for books. This person is the lovely Amy at Golden Books Girl! I've been really enjoying her blog and chatting to her on Twitter about books so if you don't follow her yet you definitely should check her out she's such a ray of sunshine and her enthusiasm for books and the book community is so lovely to see!

Favourite Thing

Picture taken from my Instagram JessHeartsBooks

This month I finally caved and bought a few of the Beauty and the Beast Funko Pops that have been on my wishlist for ages and I'm absolutely in love with them. Beauty and the Beast is my favourite Disney movie and I love being able to include these Funko's in my Bookstagram pictures. I'm planning on reorganizing my bookcases soon and I can't wait for them to be on display with my beautiful books!

Favourite Memory 

This month my favourite memory involves my nine-year-old cousin. We went for a family meal out last weekend to celebrate two birthdays. I sat next to her and we spent so much time talking about books from what we were reading to what we wanted to read next. She's always been a huge bookworm like me and it's something I've always nurtured in her by buying her books for Christmases and birthdays. This time our usual book talk was a little different though, as she was the one giving me recommendations on books to read! It's so nice that she's now old enough that we can mutually share what books we've been enjoying lately. I persuaded my Aunt to buy her the Murder Most Unladylike series and I've added Dragon's Green by Scarlett Thomas a book she's currently reading to my own wishlist. I think that now she's getting older a lot of book swapping will be going on as she raids my shelves for her next read!

What were some of your favourite things in July?

Sunday, 30 July 2017

The Marriage Pact Blog Tour

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on The Marriage Pact blog tour! Today I am giving 5 of my lucky readers the chance to win a copy of the book. In case this gripping thriller isn't on your radar yet here is a little bit about it...

"It's the perfect wedding gift. Newlyweds Jake and Alice are offered membership of a club which promises members will never divorce. Signing The Pact seems the ideal start to their marriage. Until one of them breaks the rules. Because The Pact is for life. And its members will go to any lengths to ensure nobody leaves..." 

 I'm so excited to read this book that has been praised by authors such as JP Delaney, Lisa Gardner and Gin Phillips.

 For your chance to win a copy of The Marriage Pact head over to Twitter 

 Don't miss the rest of the blog tour!

Monday, 24 July 2017

Feminist Fiction On My TBR

With the success of The Handmaid's Tale and in the YA community books such as Only Ever Yours by Louise O'Neill and Holly Bourne's Spinster Club series I've noticed more feminist fiction being published this year which makes me incredibly excited! I've read a lot of non-fiction on feminism but fiction is my preference and I love that there are more and more stories being published with the subject of feminism at its forefront.

Today I wanted to share with you some of the feminist fiction I have on my TBR pile that I want to get to over the next few months. I hope that it gives you some ideas for feminist books to add to your own reading piles!

The Power by Naomi Alderman 

Like most people, I first heard about The Power when it was nominated for The Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction this year. That and the quote from Margaret Atwood had me sold and I ordered a copy straight away. I find the premise of this one absolutely fascinating - what if the power to hurt was in women's hands? In The Power teenage girls wake up one day to find that they can inflict pain with a flick of their fingers. I've heard nothing but brilliant things about this book and since it went on to win the Bailey's Prize I know I need to get to it soon.

The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood 

This book has been sitting on my shelf for years unread but I started watching the TV series and absolutely adore it so it's going on pause for a while as incentive for me to finally pick up this book because I prefer to read a book before watching the adaptation. The Handmaid's Tale is a modern classic for a reason and I'm excited to finally read it soon and then get back into the show!

Gather the Daughters by Jennie Melamed 

This book is being pitched as being perfect for fans of The Girls by Emma Cline which was one of my favourite books of last year. It tells the story of a cult founded by ten men years ago when they colonised an island. Girls are wives in training, massively controlled and must reproduce at the first sign of puberty. I think that like The Girls this is going to be a dark and disturbing read. I currently have a giveaway for Gather the Daughters running on my Instagram so if you'd like to be in with a chance of winning go enter here.

Who Runs the World? by Virginia Bergin 

Moving on to some YA! I loved Virginia Bergin's The Rain series and have high hopes for this dystopian read about a world where a virus has wiped out the male population and women are in charge. The idea behind this book sounds so interesting to me and I'm excited to see what Virginia Bergin does with it.

Things a Bright Girl Can Do by Sally Nicholls 

I think that this is one of the books I am the most excited to get to on this pile! Things a Bright Girl Can Do releases in September and follows three courageous teenage girls as they fight for equality and join the Suffragettes. I don't think I've ever read any YA historical feminist fiction and what better place to start than to read about the Suffragettes? This book also has LGBT rep and from the looks of it is going to be absolutely fantastic!

Moxie by Jennifer Mathieu 

Thanks to Zoella picking it for her 2017 book club, everybody is reading Moxie right now! This sounds like an American version of What's a Girl Gotta Do? and follows Viv who begins a girl revolution at her school. I have a feeling that I'm going to love this book as it ticks a lot of boxes for me. It's one that is at the very top of my reading pile!

Which book do you think I should start with? 
And what books are on your feminist fiction TBR pile?
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