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"YOU CAN CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS, BUT YOU CAN'T CHOOSE YOUR FAMILY".

Sharing blood and DNA is a funny thing. We are brought up to believe that this is what makes a family. You grow up around the saying, "you can choose your friends, but you can't choose your family". You try to make relationships with your blood relatives work far more than you do any other relationships, because these are the people "you're stuck with for life".

For over 20 years, I believed this. I believed I had to change my personality every weekend to fit in with the other half of my family. I believed I had to love this side of my family who mocked me for being sensitive; for having an unbreakable bond with my mum and sister that I could never have with them; for having anxiety and depression and putting down my "different" personality to those illnesses.

And then I finally understood. Whether you share blood with someone or not - if they don't accept you, they're not your family. In the physical sense of the word? Yes, they are. But the definition of a family to me is: people that make you feel like you're home. Safe, loved and respected.

Until I was 21, I had no real male presence in my life. Men were there, but they weren't dependable. And then I met my dad. Yes, I met my dad when I was 21. Not my biological father - but my dad. The man who spends hours listening to my problems, any time of day. The man who attends every hospital appointment without being asked. The man who drives hours to see me whenever I need him. The man who gives me his time, and realises that's the most priceless gift of all.

I hated Andy for months when he and my mum first became partners. I referred to him as Andy for the longest time. I put off meeting him for a while, because there was no way I could ever love this man for taking my mum away from me. I finally met him, and after he left for the first time - the dad seed was planted. This man was wonderful. He was kind, caring, supportive, attentive; this man would be my dad one day.

3 years on and here we are. I have the world's greatest mum and dad, and genetics don't come into it. It's taken me 24 years, but it turns out you don't have to feel trapped - you can choose your family.


THE CHANGEOVER | FILM REVIEW

The Changeover
Rating: 5/5
Buy/Borrow: Buy
Source: Early preview courtesy of Lionsgate

BUY THE BOOK HERE: THE CHANGEOVER
BUY THE FILM HERE: THE CHANGEOVER

While looking after her little brother one day after school, teenage Laura loses sight of him and desperately searches for Jacko. She finally finds him in a strange shop under the care of the creepy owner Carmody Braque.

Jacko suddenly falls ill, and Laura realises there was more to their meeting with Braque than she thought. As her brother’s condition worsens, she fears that something supernatural is at work and enlists the help of Sorensen Carlisle, a prefect at school to whom she is mysteriously drawn.

MY (BOOKISH) FRIENDS | FRIENDSHIP FAILS OF EMMA NASH BLOG TOUR

Hi everyone! A few weeks ago, I was approached to take part in the Friendship Fails of Emma Nash blog tour. I adored the first book, Editing Emma, so of course I was desperate to read the sequel and share my thoughts with you all. 


SYNOPSIS:

Now she’s in the sixth form, Emma’s expecting life to be a breeze but when her best friend Steph suddenly has a boyfriend who she’s spending more time with Emma’s not sure what to do with herself.


So Emma’s got a mission in mind: making new friends. Signing up for the school fashion show seems like the perfect opportunity. Although soon, through a series of mishaps that are absolutely not Emma’s fault (well, sort of), her world is teetering on the edge of disaster again.

Would going back to creating a life for herself online really be so bad?

We start where Editing Emma left off (no spoilers here) and it was easy to immerse myself into Emma's world again. Full of awkwardness and laugh-out-loud moments; this book was everything I was expecting, and more. What I love most about this series, is the smashing of taboo topics. Where other YA books purposefully avoid topics like periods and friends talking about sex, Chloe Seager embraces them - and I love that. Let's be honest, teenage girls do talk about these things, and it's about time books reflected that.

One of the central themes of the book is friendship. Creating and holding friendships is such a huge part of growing up, especially when you're a teenager, and this book definitely reflected that. I certainly remember being in Steph and Emma's exact situation. I was always the awkward dater, and my best friend got an "official" boyfriend - I felt replaced, hurt, jealous; all the emotions Emma is feeling. So I feel like this aspect of the book was done perfectly, and was very realistic.

Whilst we're talking about friendship; that's the theme behind my blog post today. Nina asked me to talk about a friend I've made through the online bookish world. Although I've met so many amazing people through the bookish community, two people spring to mind.

Me, Liv and Rebecca. The evil trio. The Slytherin Queens. Never did I imagine meeting two such like-minded, hilarious, best friends like you. You know you have a friend for every occassion? A friend to go out drinking with, a friend to gossip with, a friend to go to for advice etc. I've finally found friends that have it all. People who accept me for who I am. Every mood, every emotion, every chronic illness flare up, every moan, every celebration - these two have been there. Bringing out the best in me, and sticking by me when I've been at my worst.


Liv, we met up at Green Park tube station after speaking briefly online and attended the Beauty and the Beast afternoon tea together. From the first moment I saw you, something just clicked and I knew we'd be best friends. Not just because of our blogs, or our YouTube channels, or even because of books - just because I connected with you more in the first five minutes of talking, than I have with most people in my life. We've laughed together, cried together, got drunk together - so many of my favourite moments of the past year have been with you - so thank you.




Rebecca, never will I forget the tears that fell when I squeezed the life out of you in the Travelodge at Uxbridge. We had spoken for years online, which made our meeting even more emotional. I introduced you to the bookish world, and watching you grow into an amazing blogger, and now BookTuber, makes me so proud. A moment I'll always be thankful for is our 24 Hour Readathon together. When I struggled, you gave me the push I needed to keep going - and you've been doing that in my life ever since - so thank you.



I loved you both - and then you met, and loved each other too. And our trio was born. A trio I am so thankful was born. A trio that wouldn't have existed without the bookish world, but will continue to exist even if our time in the bookish world ends (don't worry - no one is leaving the bookish community anytime soon!). I love you both, and thank you both for being the best friends I could ask for. Genuinely having to wipe tears away here...


If you want to read a book full of laughs, loves and life-long friendships, Friendship Fails of Emma Nash is definitely the book for you!



Check out the other stops on the blog tour here:

TO THE PETER PANS OF THE WORLD


I'll be honest, growing up sucks. When you're a child, there's nothing you want more than to grow up and be a teacher, or an astronaut, or a doctor. Then when you're a teenager, there's nothing you want more than to leave the house and have your own independence; be free of being told what to do. And then it happens. And you're an adult.

You're working. You're tied down with bills. You're struggling to make ends meet. And you want to rescind your comments about growing up. Growing up is terrible, and nowhere near as great as it looked through your ten-year-old eyes.

I'm 24 now and I'm content. I've discovered that being content is far better than I thought. You're not happy; you're not sad. You're content. You're stable and you're coping. That's not to say I don't experience happiness or sadness; of course I do. But content is the overwhelming emotion. Plodding on knowing that you're financially, physically and mentally secure for the time being. It's a reassuring thing.

But what I want to talk about today is the people that don't grow up. This is something I find myself thinking about a lot. They do physically; their hairs turn grey and wrinkles start to form, but their mind remains the same. I would call them the Peter Pans of our world; because for the majority of the time, they're the best people to be around. They're happy and carefree. They make you laugh. But they don't know how to adult. And here's where I have my issue.

There are circumstances in life where you have to let people you love be free. Whether it's a child leaving home or watching a friend get married; their life is theirs, and even though it hurts that you're not the centre of their world anymore - you have to let them.

I'll talk about my circumstance. My mum was in a toxic marriage, and when I left home, she left shortly after. She found new love, and a new home in Lichfield; which is over 2 hours away from the place I call home.

I cried for days, weeks, even months. I have never been away from my mum for more than a few days, and selfishly I wanted to keep her nearby for myself. As the months went on, I saw her change. She was content; truly content. It was at this moment that I realised I'd never seen my mum content. I'd never seen her make jokes, or felt embarassed because she was being overly affectionate to her partner; or seen her completely relax and be herself. And that is the moment in which I grew up.

Holding people back to make yourself happy is selfish. And I'll admit that it took me months to see that. Some people it will take years. Some people will never see that. And they're the ones you end up growing apart from. The ones that can't take that you have another source of happiness in your life now, that isn't them. And those are the people that I'm fed up of.

You can feel jealousy. Almost 3 years down the line, and I still feel jealous - but don't let that change your behaviour towards a person. Don't lose something good because you're so encased in negative emotion. When I grew up and welcomed my mum's new partner with open arms, it was the best decision I ever made. I even now call him dad. You never know what you might gain by going into something with an open mind.

I still class myself as a Peter Pan of the world. It's knowing the moments that he needs to be stored away that's the most important thing. 

Me and My Dad