Panic attacks - how I've dealt with them

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Living with anxiety hasn't always been easy but it has made me into the person I am today. Through dealing with anxiety, I've learned more about myself, how I can use my experiences to help others and coping mechanisms to feel better when anxiety strikes.

If you're dealing with panic attacks and need advice on how to cope with them, here are my best tips and advice.

Panic attacks - how I've dealt with them

Recognise the triggers

Everyone has different triggers, whether it's crowds, small spaces or social situations to cause panic attacks. Once you notice what those triggers are, it can help you prevent future attacks and come up with solutions that work for you. Triggers can be small everyday moments to larger, more obvious triggers and realising them can have a significant impact.

Write down patterns of when you feel a panic attack coming on

When you recognise your triggers, write them down. Once you've got the triggers written down, you can begin to notice a pattern and understand the reasons behind your panic attacks. That understanding can also help you be aware of panic attacks coming on and help you plan out your day to put tactics in place, preventing panic attacks.

Learn breathing techniques

Breathing techniques are key with panic attacks as they can really bring you back to the present and calm you down. There are various techniques you can do, my favourite being the breathe in for four, hold for four and release for four. Another is the 5,4,3,2,1 method, noticing five things you can see, four things you can touch, three things you can hear, two things you can smell and one thing you can taste. These exercises switch your focus away from the panic attack and hopefully help you calm down.

Test the waters on coping mechanisms that work for you

Not every coping mechanism will work for you as each person has different triggers and reliefs. You need to find the mechanism that works for you. Whether it's using one of the breathing techniques, calling someone when a panic attack strikes, taking yourself out of the room, listening to music and calming sounds, or even using a breathing tool to help you.

Speaking with loved ones about how they can help

Our loved ones are there to support and love us and if you're struggling with panic attacks, confiding in them is vital. Speaking to your loved one about your triggers and how they can help you will let them know what they can do for you in your time of need. Whether it's someone to help you calm down, take you out of the situation or be a listening ear when you feel anxiety striking. 

Reassure yourself that you're not a failure

You're not a failure and living with anxiety and panic attacks doesn't make you one. Reassurance is key to reinforcing the idea that you are wonderful, strong and doing your best. Dealing with panic attacks is exhausting, especially if they're constant and knowing you're putting in the effort to look after yourself can help you feel better.

Reinforce positive affirmations 

I love affirmations as it's the best way to build self-love and self-confidence. Affirmations are easy to introduce into your daily routine, either in the morning, as you feel a panic attack come on or when you notice the signs of panic attacks. They can help you feel positive about yourself and know you can deal with the hardships panic attacks cause.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Do you live with panic attacks?

Thank you for reading <3

Dear anxiety: how life is different now

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Over the years, I've written an open letter to anxiety and an updated anxiety letter a few years ago. Four years later, it's an amazing time to write another letter and share where I am now, in my late twenties.

Whether you live with anxiety or looking to have someone to relate to, here is my open letter to anxiety.

Dear anxiety: how life is different now

Dear anxiety, 

Life has changed a lot, hasn't it? I'm now 27 years old and how life was with anxiety a decade ago almost seems worlds away. I can't believe how life has changed since then and even from my last update a few years back. I've grown, falling in love with myself and being more proud of my existence. I've taken the leap to step out of my comfort zone in many ways, grabbing opportunities and enjoying the power of everyday life.

Although things are more positive now, you do have your way of wiggling yourself in here and there, reminding me of my insecurities and coming out in social situations. I may have found coping mechanisms to deal with you, though, at times, I still experience panic attacks, weighed down by my clouded thoughts and can't help push that anxious feeling away. 

I've accepted that you are part of my life and part of who I am and that's okay. I spent years trying to get rid of you and though that has helped, I think acceptance is the most powerful skill of all. 

I've learned it's okay to have anxiety and feel anxious about all the little things in life. You have become my superpower, helping me understand people better, and be more empathetic and sensitive to other's needs. You've also helped me make better decisions in my life and think things through extensively. You have helped me make a better impression and care for everything a lot more deeply. You aren't a hindrance but a strength and I strive to keep using you that way.

How far have we come then? Acceptance may have been the biggest moving force but also becoming more myself and loving that. I spent my mid-twenties healing from trauma and my insecurities and the last few years, it has been about embracing that healing and living a more positive life. I've come leaps and bounds focusing on my own needs and goals, rather than putting all that energy into everyone else. Although that still takes a huge part of my heart, prioritising what I want out of my life is a big step in my growth and self-development. Learning how to cope with you is the biggest player in that. 

How is life different now?

  • I take the time to focus on my anxiety and caring for my mind when needed, rather than brushing that need away
  • I'm more comfortable in myself and understand it's okay to have anxiety and insecurities as that's part of what makes me human
  • I live a more positive life, always looking at the bright side and embracing that anxiety is part of that
  • I appreciate and am grateful for how anxiety has affected my life for the good and bad
  • Living with anxiety is my strength, not my weakness and I've used it to build the foundations of life now and constantly improve myself

I hope you enjoy this post. Do you deal with anxiety?

Thank you for reading <3

Book review: The Maid by Nita Prose

 Well hello to you my reader chums! As many of you know murder mystery books are my favourite, I love discovering a mystery unveiled throughout the book, especially in a crime fiction novel. I've read my fair share of murder mysteries and continue to pick them up as it's a genre that thrills me. 

A recent book I picked up was The Maid on a whim and I didn't expect such a random purchase to be such a fab choice. If you're looking for a new novel to read, here is my book review of The Maid by Nita Prose.

Book review: The Maid by Nita Prose

Plotline

This novel follows Molly Gray, a maid working in the luxury Regency Grand Hotel. She is a cleaning whizz, taking her duty seriously and loving every moment of her job. One day, she discovers a very famous guest, Mr Black, dead in his bed, in Suite 401 and a messy mystery begins to unravel. Molly becomes the heart of the investigation because if anyone knows the secrets beyond the dirt, it's the maid.

Characters and relationships

The characters in this book were everything, especially Molly Gray. Molly is the most honest character, her authentic self every day, even at times when she doesn't mean to be. She isn't like a normal 25-year-old as she's mainly grown up with her nan, doesn't have many friends and isn't on board with the social cues. I love this about her though because she's always unapologetically herself and tries her best in every way to be kind to others and work hard in her job.

Molly had the most precious relationship with her late nan and references her throughout the novel and all the things she's taught her which has shaped who she is today. It's apparent how much she misses her nan and how navigating life without her is a massive challenge.

Another character I loved was Mr Preston, one of the older men working in the hotel and a character that always looks out for Molly in every way as he understands she's too nice, and can't comprehend when many people are joking about her or causing her harm.

Giselle is another staple character and as Mr Black's wife, a big suspect in the case. However, what's most important about her is their connection with Molly and how she offers a sense of friendship.

Overall thoughts

Overall I loved this novel in every way. It's a murder mystery that wasn't too heavy, with a big heart to it and a lighter tone. I love how even though it wasn't terrifying or too much of a thriller, the book had its fast pace, honest appeal and twists and turns adding to the overall thriller element.

It's a book that shows the true power of the good and bad people in your life, how good work goes a long way and who will always stand by you.

Ending

The ending of this book was a hopeful one, and honestly, throughout, I wasn't sure if the book would get to that point. However, I can say, I finished the book feeling satisfied for Molly and the other characters.

I hope you enjoyed this post. What are you currently reading?

Thank you for reading <3

The best destinations for new travellers

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Travelling is a part of my soul and as many of you know, I love nothing more than planning my next trip away. I've prioritised travelling for all of my twenties, trying to see as many new destinations as possible and sharing my experiences. Travelling for everyone is different, whether you're on a budget, love to tick off all the sights or prefer travelling slowly.

If you're new to travelling for the first time or unsure of where to go on holiday, here's my guide to the best destinations for new travellers. 

The best destinations for new travellers

Rome, Italy

Italy is my favourite country ever and I adore seeing new destinations throughout the country every time I visit. However, as a country with incredible highlights, it can be overwhelming on where to visit first. Any newbie to Italy needs to see the iconic capital of Rome for many reasons, the first is the history is incredible and you won't be bored with things to do. Another reason for new travellers is as Rome is so popular, it's easy to navigate around for new tourists with endless tour guides, English menus and countless travel advice. Planning a trip here will give you a taste of Italian beauty in an easy and stress-free way.

Barcelona, Spain

Barcelona has a charm about it that anyone will fall in love with, boasting delicious tapas, friendly locals and plenty of attractions to keep you busy on your trip. With Barcelona, although it's very tourist-friendly, it still has the power to see beyond the tourist hotspots, providing easy access to a new city, and the pleasure of being more adventurous if you wish.

Crete, Greece

I adore Greece and many of the islands are incredibly tourist-friendly for newbie travellers with the local friendly energy to welcome new people. I'd choose Crete as the destination as throughout the island, there are many spots to choose from, whether you'd like a party vibe in Malia or a more chilled-out trip in Chania. There are gorgeous beaches, weather and lovely sights to explore along the way.

Thailand - any island

It's no secret how much I adore Thailand and thanks to the popularity of backpackers, the island scene makes for easy access to explore such an exotic location. Whichever popular island you choose, whether that's Koh Phi Phi for the party lifestyle, Koh Samui for a beach holiday of dreams or Koh Lanta to see more of the country air, you can easily get around with tour groups, asking locals and other tourists for help and advice.

Porto, Portugal

Portugal boasts beautiful weather and scenery and one city to start your exploration is Porto. Many would choose Lisbon as the capital and as much as I like it there, Porto is still tourist-friendly and has more of that Portuguese charm to immerse yourself in an accessible way. Porto has sights throughout the city, various food options, transport links and friendly locals many can speak English.

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Amsterdam is known as a key weekend trip destination with canals for romantic strolls, cute pastry shops, plenty of bikes, markets and historical sights to witness. It's also known as a hen and stag do destination, so whatever you decide to go for, you can find it in this city. If you're coming from London, you can fly or get the train into the city, making it even more accessible than some of the other destinations listed. As such a popular place, you'll find navigating this city to be simple and plenty of guides to point you in the right direction.

Budapest, Hungary

I feel like everyone chooses Budapest as an easy location to visit to experience city air and the famous thermal spas. Renowned for stag and hen dos or spa weekend breaks, it's a city that welcomes many tourists for the party lifestyle and spa vibes, as well as soaking up the history throughout the city. Due to all of this, Budapest is easy for new travellers to get the grips of Hungary life and what's in store.

Dubrovnik, Croatia

Croatia is one of those countries that I'm keen to see more of as I adored every bit of Dubrovnik's characteristics and historical look. From the cobbled streets in the Old Town to the crystal clear waters on its beaches, there's more than meets the eye. With its famed UNESCO status, the city is always packed with tourists, especially in the high season, giving new travellers the ease of exploring the city with fresh eyes and knowledge from those around them.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Where's next on your list?

Thank you for reading <3

How overcoming travel anxiety changed my life

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Travelling is my biggest passion and as many of you know, I love nothing more than planning my next trip away and visiting new destinations. Travel is a big part of my life and I adore researching new countries and ticking them off my must-see list. However, travelling and exploring the world isn't something that came naturally to me. I used to have the biggest fear of flying and was too anxious to leave my house, let alone jet off to new lands.

If you're anxious about travelling or new to flying, here is how overcoming travel anxiety changed my life.

How overcoming travel anxiety changed my life

I've visited nearly 30 countries

I'm incredibly grateful and privileged to have spent the majority of my twenties so far jetting off to new countries, seeing some of the world's best sights, making remarkable memories and feeling free in the travel life. Overcoming my travel anxiety by pushing myself to keep going on trips meant I caught the travel bug and fell in love with exploring and wanting to see more and more places. 

I still can't believe all the destinations I've had the pleasure of seeing, from backing Asia twice, revisiting Italy over and over again, ticking off European countries to living it up in the Big Apple. I am blessed that because I made the choice to overcome my fears, my twenties have been full of memories, stories, lessons and appreciation for the world around me. I'm excited to get to number 30 (currently on number 28)!

I feel confident in new cultures and places

The best thing about travelling is experiencing new cultures, learning the history of renowned sights and meeting locals in new countries. It has opened up my mind to new and fresh perspectives, giving me a bigger understanding of how other cultures live and their way of life. As I've been able to immerse myself in countries across Europe, Asia and beyond, I've witnessed rituals and traditions which are new to me - and with that, I'm left with a confident feeling when visiting a country with a different culture for the first time. I don't feel anxious landing in the new destinations, I feel excited and confident to see what they're all about, building on my knowledge. 

Flying doesn't scare me anymore

I used to have the BIGGEST fear of flying. The thought of going to an airport and being in the air at 30,000+ feet terrified me. However, the immersive therapy really worked for me here as the more I pushed myself to get on that plane and book that trip, seeing the outcome it gave me, the easier it was to shake off that fear. It wasn't easy in any way as I would suffer from panic attacks and fear the experience, yet time is a powerful thing. After a while, the fear went away and I realised how safe aeroplanes are and that being in the air is one of my favourite places to be.

I'm more care-free in new environments

As someone with anxiety, I don't think I'll ever be completely carefree, constantly planning things, writing itineraries and wanting control. However, my travel anxiety isn't the same as my normal anxiety. When I'm jetting off to a new destination, there's a certain ease that follows me and no matter what, it's all part of the adventure. I feel calm that I've had a lot of experience travelling to new destinations, and I can figure out any issue that occurs. Plus, the anxious person in me has done plenty of research and planning beforehand so that I'm clued up (as much as I can be) in a new place and it allows for that care-free attitude.

I'm intrigued about going to places that are new and different 

A decade ago, I never thought travel was going to be a part of my life, especially such a significant part of it. Now, going to new places intrigues me and fills my mind with wonder, rather than fear and anxiety and the constant thought of all the bad things that'll go wrong.

I've overcome other fears such as heights and waters

I was always a fearful child, scared of pretty much anything in my path; social situations, outdoor activities, heights, water and many more things. Though, travelling so often has pushed me to overcome certain fears to experience places in the full, such as heights and the water. I've climbed some incredible hikes, I've gone up some of the tallest buildings in the world and admired the views. I've snorkelled, swam in open water and kayaked on deep water - all things the younger me never thought were possible.

I've tried new experiences I never thought I would

This leads on to all the experiences I've tried, from hiking, snorkelling, trying new cuisines across the world, staying in hostels, temple hopping, visiting historical sites, riding in a tuk-tuk, seeing an elephant safari to cooking classes, these experiences are memories I'll remember forever.

I've learned many life lessons

Life is full of lessons and travelling often has shaped my perspective, teaching me more about gratitude, the kindness of humans, having an open mind and being brave.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Where's next on your travel must-see list?

Thank you for reading <3

3-day guide to Edinburgh: my favourite spots in the city

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Edinburgh has a gorgeous charm that I fell in love with straight away. Everyone said how beautiful Edinburgh was and I couldn't believe my eyes until I arrived - and I even had stunning weather, not what I expected for spring in Scotland.

With its characteristic buildings, literary history, quaint pubs and colourful streets, there are endless things to see and do and places to eat in the city. If you're new to Scotland, here's my 3-day guide to Edinburgh and my favourite spots of what to do in the city.

3-day guide to Edinburgh: my favourite spots in the city

Day one

Visit the Royal Mile

The Royal Mile is the most iconic street in Edinburgh and the first must-see sight to capture the beauty of the city. This is probably the most crowded part of the city but for good reason as the mile-long strip features wonderful historical buildings, museums, cafes, shops and the staple cobbled streets. I loved walking up and down and seeing the city's bustle, full of locals and tourists. 

Wander along Victoria Street

Just off The Royal Mile, is the colourful Victoria Street, the street you've probably seen on many Instagram posts. This curved road features many quaint and unique type shops, all painted every colour of the rainbow. Its cobbled streets add to the cute appeal and it's worth a mooch in the shops and grabbing a bite to eat if you fancy. 

Explore the old town

The Royal Mile and Victoria Street are in the heart of the old town and beyond that, it's a cobbled street paradise. Enjoy the wonders as you mooch along the various streets, grab a bite to eat, or a coffee, shop in the independent stores and experience the museum scene. It's one of those areas where you can simply enjoy how beautiful the architecture is.

See St Giles Cathedral

I adore cathedrals and St Giles in Edinburgh met my expectations as a wonderful sight. The interior and exterior matched the beauty and the architecture throughout the city. Entry to the cathedral is free unless climbing to the top.

Coffee and cake at The Milkman

The Milkman is a favourite coffee shop for many, locals and tourists and has that hipster feel about it with the array of pastries and cakes on offer. For that late-morning snack, I'd suggest grabbing one of their sweet treats and finding a place to sit taking in the city bustle.

Roam around The Writer's Museum

I'm a writer and my dream is to have my books published on the bookshelves one day. Visiting the Writer's Museum is a must for any book nerds or aspiring writers as it's so inspirational to read about the literary-historical icons in Edinburgh and beyond, and how their books have such an impact today. This museum is free too and worth a visit to learn more about the writers who shaped the literary world.

Visit Edinburgh Castle 

You can see Edinburgh Castle from many points in the city and going up there is a must to see the city from up high and to explore and learn more about the city's history. The castle is a lovely walk and also features many museums within it. Tickets cost £19.50 online and I'd recommend booking in advance to choose a time slot to save queuing up and paying more on the door.

Afternoon cake at Lovecrumbs

I adore cute coffee shops and Edinburgh was packed with them, I almost wish I was able to see more of them. I came across Lovecrumbs on Google Maps and visited as it sounded cute and up my street. They did delicious cheese toasties in there, and a variety of cakes and beverages to choose from - the ideal spot to relax after a day of walking.

Dinner at Vietnam House Restaurant

Vietnamese food is one of my favourites and I'm always up to eat the cuisine whenever I can. Edinburgh had many Vietnamese restaurants and this one was down the road from the apartment I stayed in. I kid you not, I haven't had Vietnamese food this good outside of Vietnam and I'd love to go back to this restaurant - the pho was on point.

Day two

Breakfast at Nomad

Kickstart the second day with a yummy breakfast. I'd recommend Nomad, a Scandinavian-looking place with a delicious brunch menu and homemade pastries. Nomad is in Haymarket, around 15 minutes from the city hub. A big breakfast is needed for a day of walking around the city - I chose the pancakes here and they were scrumptious.

Mooch around Dean Village

Dean Village is one of my favourite spots to experience a taste of the countryside in the city. The river area offers that natural paradise for a stroll, breathing in some fresh air and seeing more of the residential side of the city.

Visit the Stockbridge's Farmer Market

I love a local market and on Sundays in Stockbridge, there's a farmer's market where locals sell all types of goods, from fresh food to drinks and even ceramics. It's a hub of all things small business and a great place to buy fresh produce or a gift for a loved one.

Walk around Princes Street and Princes Street Gardens 

Back in the city hub, Princes Street has plenty of shops, such as classic high-street numbers and a few independents. Around that street, Princes Street Gardens is a gorgeous green space for picnics, a lovely walk or to look at the famous Scott monument.

Lunch at Zebra Coffee Co

Another great coffee shop for lunch is Zebra Coffee Co, famous for its chunky cookies with various flavours. It's not the biggest of cafes but a cute one with different sandwiches, drinks and treats. A quiet spot to have a break from walking around cobbled streets.

Go to the National Museum

One of the amazing things about Edinburgh was the free attractions, including the National Museum. This museum was HUGE with many floors of different areas of Scottish history, including a zoo-like room which blew my mind. You could easily spend hours here as there's plenty to see and do, especially if you're visiting with children.

Have a drink at The Dome

The Dome is a stunning building and the perfect place for afternoon tea, a drink or dinner. The interior blew me away as the colourful, dome-like decoration is very extravagant and posh. I felt a little underdressed considering the interior, however, many tourists were also dressed casually. I had a hot chocolate and shortbread in here and enjoyed a chat with my partner, a lovely spot to wind down.

Climb up Calton Hill

Calton Hill is a definite on your trip to Edinburgh, especially if you're unable to climb the iconic Arthur's Seat. The actual climb to Calton's Hill only takes around ten minutes and you'll experience phenomenal views of the city, especially during sunset or sunrise.

Dinner at The Magnum Bar and Restaurant

My partner and I came across this pub unexpectedly when the pub we wanted to get a roast at was full. Magnum Bar and Restaurant offered one of the best roasts I've had in a long time and I'm surprised the place isn't raved about more. Plus, the dessert I wish I could eat over and over again  - basically, a chocolate lover's dream.

Day three

Breakfast at Cafe Milk

On the last day in Edinburgh, it's about soaking up the last few sights and enjoying the joy of the city. Breakfast for me began in Cafe Milk, a yummy vegetarian breakfast in the heart of Haymarket. This coffee shop also offered a range of cakes and pastries to grab and go.

Explore the bookshop scene

As many of you know, I'm a huge bookworm and going to a city, I love to explore the bookshop scene. Edinburgh featured a dreamy selection of bookshops, just like Bath and I wish I spent longer mooching in them. My favourite few included Armchair books, Topping and Company booksellers and  Edinburgh books. There's a combination of second-hand bookshops and new bookshops, with a chance to buy vintage items or brand-new bestsellers.

Climb Arthur's Seat

Arthur's Seat is an incredible hike worth doing if you're capable. I absolutely adored this hike, although it was challenging and scary at times, reaching the top was a beautiful accomplishment and I was so proud of myself. The hike itself probably took around 30 minutes to an hour to reach the top. The first section of the hike is one steep hill with rocky steps and probably the hardest part of the hike for endurance. The second part of the hike is hard because there are many rocks and the terrain isn't as easy to walk up. 

The view of Edinburgh from the top is out of this world and makes the difficulties of the hike worth the struggle. I loved that the weather was rather mild and calm, meaning, I wasn't worried about slipping on the rocks. 

Lunch at Red Kite Cafe

The hike took it out of me more than I expected and lunch was essential to refuel my body and we discovered the lovely spot, Red Kite Cafe. This place had a family-run feel where locals spend their days, enjoying a cup of coffee or lunch. I enjoyed one of their yummy cakes and my partner, their homemade soup.

Dinner at Makars Mash Bar

I'm obsessed with mash and when I heard there was a mash bar, I had to make a reservation. Annoyingly, I had to wait until our last night because the restaurant was fully booked for the first two nights I was there. However, waiting for this restaurant as our last meal was worth it because I adored the mash - and loved the concept. A definite in the city!

Soak up the last of the city

Before you leave Edinburgh, it's time to soak up the last favourite spots. I spent my last few hours in the city wandering around the old town, catching a glimpse of The Royal Mile, the charming shops and cobbled streets. I even saw blue skies before heading back to the airport.

How to get around the city

Edinburgh is incredibly walkable and if you're fit and happy to walk about 20,000 steps a day then you can easily do this itinerary doing just that. Although, buses and trams are available throughout the city, and taxis too if you need an easy way to get around. 

From the airport, there are two cheap and easy ways into the city, the first, the tram which gets you there in about half an hour and a bus, which takes a little longer and is slightly cheaper. I used the tram as it was quick, a £9.50 return ticket and offered pretty views of the city.

Where to stay in Edinburgh

As Edinburgh is pretty easy to get around, if you're on a budget, you don't need to stay in the old town. There are many gorgeous areas to pick from including the city centre/old town, Haymarket, Stockbridge, New Town and West End. I stayed in Haymarket and loved the neighbourhood as it had many coffee shop options and restaurants and was only a 15-minute walk to the old town.

I hope you enjoyed this post. When are you planning your trip?

Thank you for reading <3

My favourite books of the year so far

 Well hello to you my reader chums! Being a bookworm is a part of my personality. My love for books has never changed, it's simply evolved and over the past year, I've been trying to focus on reading as much as possible. There's always something new I want to read with so many books in the world!

I'm always up for reading new genres, however, my favourite genres include crime fiction, detective novels, murder mysteries, historical fiction and women's fiction. Recently, I've read some incredible books and wanted to share the books I'm loving at the minute.

My favourite books of the year so far

Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn

I haven't read a Gillian Flynn book since Gone Girl a while back and when I started reading this, I remembered why I loved this author so much and her talent for crafting thriller novels. This novel follows reporter Camille Preaker after she's released from a psych hospital and given a troubling assignment, returning to her small hometown to cover the unsolved murder of a preteen girl and the disappearance of another.

Camille hasn't visited her hometown in a long time and hardly spoke to her neurotic mother and half-sister she barely knows. Visiting her hometown again, she finds herself unravelling a psychological puzzle of her own past and looking further into the people around her. This novel gripped me from the beginning and I couldn't put it down at times, with twists of new characters and various narratives happening all the time. I got an incline of what I thought would happen towards the end and to my surprise, I was correct. This novel was strange and thought-provoking and highlighted many scary issues happening in everyday life to young people.

True Crime Story by Joseph Knox

I was recommended this book when I visited Bath in Mrs B's Emporium as I love crime stories, including true crime and this book was just that. This novel follows the disappearance of Zoe Nolan, a nineteen-year-old Manchester University student who went to a party one night in her shared accommodation and was never seen again. Seven years after the disappearance, a writer called Evelyn Mitchell is intrigued by the mystery and begins to investigate.

This book features plenty of interviews with Zoe's friends and family and Mitchell begins piecing together what happens to Zoe. Through investigation, many secrets are revealed of Zoe's life and Evelyn turns to crime writer Joesph Knox to make sense of the case. I loved this book as I could really feel the tragedy on every page and how heart-wrenching the narrative was. The interview style made the book fast-paced and intriguing with every page. I began reading thinking the book would end one way and then it flips with more leads and revealed secrets.

The Last Thing to Burn by Will Dean

My heart broke the entire time I read this book and I read it in two sittings. This novel is set on an isolated farm in the UK where a woman is trapped by her abuser for seven years. It is a very exact novel, following the everyday motions of 'Jane' and the ordeal she goes through with this man and what happens if she doesn't obey him. He films her every move and when she discovers she's pregnant, she begins planning her escape, protecting her and her baby.

It's hard to put into words this book's tragedy as it's based on the facts of trafficking victims and the ordeal they experience every single day. I vouched for her safety and escape through the book, pushing me to read on with hope. It's realistic, heart-breaking and honest, an account I can imagine of someone dealing with the abuse of a kidnapper.

The Night She Disappeared by Lisa Jewell

I love a thriller, especially a missing person's case. This book follows a young mum, Tallulah in 2017 where she heads on a date, leaving her baby with her mother, Kim. When the early hours come around, Kim awaits her return but she never comes home. Kim phones Tallulahs's friends who say the last place she was seen was a party in the Dark Place. Two years later, Sophie moved into the boarding school her boyfriend has a new job and sees a note fixed to a tree, so she begins to investigate.

This book was one of the first I read this year and I loved every minute. With every missing person's novel, I wondered about the direction it would go. This included all themes of wealthy people, dysfunctional relationships and how being a teenager is one of the biggest struggles of them all. I liked the perspective change in this book and how I could understand many people's views of the story. It had one of those endings that got even more shocking as I kept reading.

The Maid by Nita Prose

Not all murder mystery books are heavy and dark, some have a lighter tone and The Maid is just that. Following Molly The Maid who works for the Regency Grand Hotel, sees everything as she cleans rooms every day. Her honest and diligent approach to life makes her a brilliant maid, but she isn't so great at understanding social cues. When a famous guest dies and she finds his body, a police investigation is called and she's stuck in the middle.

I adored this book in many ways because it's incredibly honest, to the point and somewhat like a diary entry as she recalls every day as a maid. The book has a comedic aspect to it at times and features many characters who aren't nice to Molly at all but through her experience and understanding more of what it's like to be an adult, she realises who has her back all along.

I hope you enjoyed this post. Which books have you been reading at the minute?

Thank you for reading <3