Book review: The Green Mile by Stephen King

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What is it about? John Coffey is a black man is in prison for the murder of two young girls. Head guard, Paul Edgecomb, recalls his time working on death row and how he met John and discovered he has an incredible secret.

What did I think? I loved this book, it was such a captivating story and really messes with your viewpoint of the men who have committed such serious crimes. King’s characters were all completely different people and the characterisations really stuck with you. You knew who you were meant to be rooting for and this wasn’t alway the guards over the prisoners. Interestingly, he portrays some of the inmates as men rather than the inhumane monsters you’d expect them to be, he makes you forget the awful things they’ve done to a point you almost feel sympathy to these men in their last moments. There were also those who were just the stereotype of what you’d expect from a murder and I really felt the comparison was a great aspect of the novel. There was also one guard, Percy, who was just an awful human being, this was an interesting choice as at times he was acting worse than some of the inmates. The fact that the story was being written by Paul when he was in an old people’s nursing home allows for the comparison, that there will always be the same types of people in the world no matter what point of life you are at. One of the aspects that stood out to me was that he would speak in great detail about seemingly random things which would later be important to the story. It made you question where things would go. As the book went on, it only got more exciting and the supernatural nature I enjoyed because everything else was just so normal. The fact that the story focused around death row and the inmates being executed through the electric chair also bring up the conversation of how ethical it was. At times Paul would question whether it made him a murderer the fact that he was behind the deaths of the men who walked the green mile.

Would I recommend? Yes, it was an amazing story. Even if you aren’t into supernatural stories you should still give this a go as the story surrounding it was really touching. It made me question things which I always love when a book does this.

What will I be reviewing next? Normal People by Salley Rooney.

Travelling on a budget: Booking your holiday

With the lockdown restrictions lifting in England you may be starting to think about getting away some time soon. I know me and my friends have already started to think about where will go next summer after our holiday this year was cancelled. Whether you are booking a holiday soon or just thinking about a far-off trip knowing how to budget will be vital. Having an estimate on how much it will cost will mean you can make sure it’s affordable and you’ll know how much you need to save. I’ve outlined my top tips of how to travel on a budget from my own experiences. 

Chose a destination: First step in working out a budget is choosing a destination. I’ll be posting a blog post next week on how I budget for spending when I’m actually on holiday, but it is a good idea to check how much an average day in your destination will cost before you commit. There are some cities and countries that are notoriously more expensive and so these may not be the best places to go when on a budget. One of my top picks would be Budapest, if you’re looking for a city break, as it’s beautiful and has so much to do while not breaking the bank. Me and my friends loved it so much we are thinking of going again next year. Also, work out how far away you want to go. Me and my friends have had some great holidays in the UK, which makes things a bit cheaper as you’re not travelling as far but you can also get great deals on flights within Europe. 

Travel: My top tip here is don’t just go for the first option that comes to mind.  You may automatically think flying will be a lot more expensive than any other mode of transport, but this may not always be the case. When we went to Edinburgh from Birmingham we chose to fly for convenience as it was only a bit more expensive than the train and a good few hours’ time difference. We did the same when flying to Paris, as to take the Eurotunnel or Ferry would have meant getting to the London or the Ferry port when it was a lot more convenient to get to Birmingham airport and just flying from there. If you go for a budget airline and fly at the right time you can get an absolute steal. A tip would also be if you are going to be flying check whether it is cheaper to fly one-way both ways with different airlines as opposed to just getting a return ticket as from my experience this can turn out cheaper. Also remember no matter how you get to the other country you will need to sort transport to your accommodation and you’ll find this to be cheaper if you book in advance rather than get their equivalent of a ‘black cab’ when you arrive in a new country.  Of course, public transport will usually be cheaper but dependant on when you’re flying and where you are staying this may not be possible. Doing that extra bit of research can help you to find good deals on coaches, taxis or shuttle buses. Do check the reviews though before you book and ask friends and family what they have used in the past as they may even have vouchers or referral codes you can use to get some money off. 

Accommodation: Now this is where you will make or break your budget. I feel with the transport the difference in price between options is not overly staggering (unless you decide to do everything business class with all the upgrades). However, deciding on the type of accommodation you want will really be dependent on your budget and dependant on what type of holiday you want.  There’s no point paying for an all-inclusive resort if you’re going on a city break and will be out most of the day however, if you are going on a party holiday it might be worth staying at one of these where alcohol is included. My favourite accommodation when travelling on a budget is a hostel with a kitchen as they’re cheap to stay in and you can cook your own food from the supermarket. This gives you the flexibility that if you want to go out for a meal you can and you’re not missing out on a pre-paid meal, but you can also cook what you want when you want.  You can also use the kitchen to make a packed lunch to take with you on your day out meaning you won’t have to pay to eat out for lunch every day.  Hostels can be used by solo and group travellers alike for a cheap place to stay in a prime tourist area. By putting in the research you can find a place with good transport connections whether it is close to public transport or within walking distance of key places you want to visit. Remember the better you plan the placement of your accommodation the more money you will save when you are actually on holiday. You don’t want to have to be spending loads of money on transport when you can find somewhere to stay that will have better and cheaper transport links. Similar to hostels, are apartments and Airbnb that have the facilities for self-catering so make sure to check-out different options to see what works best for where you want to stay and how many of you are travelling. 

Luggage and travel essentials: It’s always best to plan what you will need to take with you and what you can buy when you arrive. Rather than paying extra for hold luggage me and my friends opt to just take a cabin bag as I have found you can fit everything you need for a holiday in one of these. Be sure to check the dimension requirements before you fly as airlines can be very strict on these and I have had to pay a large sum for my bag to be put in the hold for being just a couple of centimetres too big.  Also remember, there are restrictions on what can be taken in cabin baggage and that all liquids must be under 100ml. It might be a good idea to just buy these when you get over there rather than take miniatures of shampoo, conditioner and body wash which are often overpriced for the amount you get. We usually just get a big bottle of these between us when we arrive which works out cheaper and we don’t have to worry about it taking up room in our liquid’s bags. 

I hope these tips help for when you are looking to book a holiday on a budget. If you want some advice on how to budget while on holiday and how much you should take, look out for my post next week!