book recommendations · book review · books · fiction · psychological thriller · ya · young adult

Mental Illness in Books

Mental illness is something that used to be taboo and is now coming into the light (hurrah!) so here are my favourite books that feature mental illness ft a mini review.

Under Rose Tainted Skies
Louise Gornall

I adore this book. The main character has agoraphobia which is very well portrayed by the author and the character has more elements to her personality than just her phobia. (Plus the romance is really cute which I loved.)

Rating: 10/10

Paperweight
Meg Haston

This one is about anorexia, and may be triggering for those with anorexia which isn’t great. The suspense is very well written though and it is a good story. The main character did grate on my nerves a bit though, which made my enjoyment of the story lessen a bit.

Rating: 7/10

Am I Normal Yet?
Holly Bourne

OCD is both mainstream and poorly represented in society, a weird situation if you ask me. Am I Normal Yet? represents the reality of OCD and makes it more understandable for people who don’t know anything about OCD.

Rating: 7/10

Pretty Girl-13
Liz Coley

I absolutely love this book. The premise and storyline is amazing, and the slow reveal of information keeps you hooked all the way through. It also brings to light multiple personality disorder (DID) and deals with it very sensitively.

Rating: 10/10

What’s your favourite book featuring mental illness? I’d love to read your suggestions!

-ABG

 

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book recommendations · book review · books · fiction · literacy · ya · young adult

The City Bleeds Gold

Author: Lucy Saxon
Warnings: some violence.

‘Noah Hansen is trapped behind two masks of his own making. He is the dependable commoner who has won the heart of Erova’s future queen, and he is the daring vigilante Daniel Novak, scourge of the city’s criminal underworld.

People whisper that Noah’s courtship of the princess is angering the Goddess and starving the land. But how can he prove himself worthy when Daniel’s missions put everything at risk?

As the Festival of the Goddess approaches and his two lives start to collide, Noah must decide who he wants to be – or watch the kingdom fall.’

This book is part of the Tellus series by Lucy Saxon, but each book is independent with few references to the other books. The first book in the series, Take Back the Skies, is one of my favourite books – I even made storyboards for it for my GCSE Graphics course. Because I love Take Back the Skies so much, it makes it hard for any other books in the series to live up to it.

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I loved the characters in this book – there were quite a few ‘major characters that you get to know, but the main characters – Noah and Crysta – are the ones you get to know the best. Honestly, if the book was just about Crysta going around and looking beautiful, I’d probably enjoy it just as much. I adored Crysta’s character and the dimensions put into her. I really wanted to like Noah, but at the same time HE ANNOYED ME SO MUCH. I’d get into spoilers if I went further with this, but EVERYONE KNEW THE DOUBLE LIFE WAS GONNA GO BADLY, NOAH.

I also really liked the way that Lucy Saxon crafted the plot – when you think everything’s going great, something else comes and ruins it. Some of it was quite easy to predict, for me at least, but then I got the satisfaction of being right.

The aesthetics of this book I also obsessed over. They’d make a really good animation, or Pinterest board. I might make one over the summer, or it could be the theme of one of my book-related bujo spreads – everything is described so beautifully and I really want one of the masks that Noah and his dad make.

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On the other hand, I found the plot a bit slow in places. I like things to happen quickly, so when small bits of the storyline get focused on for more than two pages, I get fidgety (maybe that’s why my book is only 16,000 words and I’m already to the climax. Oops.). I also found that there were a few things left unresolved at the end that I wanted to know about – was the harvest good that year anyway? Were people less angry at Crysta now? Again, spoilers.

There were also some characters that I thought appeared quite key but were mostly just… there. Like Damian, the guard and Noah’s best friend. I feel like there could be another whole book about him.

I enjoyed this book, but again, everything in this series gets compared to Take Back the Skies in my mind so I don’t fully immerse myself in them because of that. I still love Lucy Saxon’s writing though, and I’m definitely going to get the next book in the series.

6/10
-ABG

book recommendations · book review · books · fiction · ya · young adult

The Hate U Give

Warnings: gang activity, character death, swearing, racial slurs.
Author: Angie Thomas

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds; the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.’

AAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!

First of all, thank you to abookandbeyond for giving me a copy of this book, I’m now indebted to you for eternity. But this book. Omg.

THE CHARACTERSSSS! Starr is so nice and good and I feel sorry for her because of everything she has to go through. The whole way through the book I felt connected to her but also helpless because I couldn’t do anything. Also her family was so pure? She literally calls her parents her OTP and that’s goals right there. Her brothers were great and now I wish my brother wasn’t so gross.
The secondary characters (Chris, her boyfriend, and Maya, her friend) kind of faded into the background until later in the book, but when they turned up I enjoyed them. Don’t even get me started on Hailey though (ugh). I wanted to cry every time she started talking.

The plotline was overall, great. There weren’t any moments where I got bored with reading, I was just constantly stuck in. (I finished it in 2 days. What is revision? Can I read instead of doing GCSEs? All important questions.) And the message it imparts is so important too, I love hearing other people’s opinions on matters like this.

Everything about this made me so emotional though. When Khalil came up, I got so angry about the assumptions made about him and his life that I had to stop reading and take a breather (I’m dramatic, I know). I teared up a few times, I’m not afraid to admit it.

I also feel like I got Starr’s struggle with the home life vs school life thing, too. I’m starting school at a private school next year, and I’m almost ashamed to say it because I’m afraid people with judge me for it??? I don’t know. But that gave me another layer of connection to Starr and made me really just want to be friends with her.

I can’t think of anything bad to say about this book, honestly. I just thought it was amazing, and bringing awareness to an issue that my brother doesn’t even take seriously.

10/10
-ABG

book recommendations · book review · books · children's fiction · fiction · ya · young adult

Furthermore

Warnings: None.
Author: Tahereh Mafi

Once upon a time, a girl was forgot…
In a world brimming with colour and magic, Alice’s pale white skin and milk-white hair mark her as an outcast. For the people of Ferenwood, colour and magic are one and the same. Alice is determined to prove her magical abilities and solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance.
To do so, she’ll have to travel into the mythical, dangerous land of Furthermore. But nothing there is as it seems, and Alice may never find her way home…’

I’m a bit late to the Bookstagram Furthermore bandwagon. It’s easy to tell why it was such a hit on Instagram though because LOOK AT THAT COVER OMG.

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First of all – the worldbuilding. I’m writing my novel(la) for CampNaNoWriMo this month, and I WISH I could get this good at subtly incorporating worldbuilding. I just want to go and live in Ferenwood and be colourful and eat flowers (I want to know what they taste like). But there’s worldbuilding for Ferenwood and Furthermore, and because Alice hasn’t been to Furthermore before the events of the book, I felt like I was learning with her. And seeing all the magic of the people in Ferenwood was cool too – it just made me jealous that I don’t have a magical power that can make people leave me alone while I’m reading or something.

Also Alice was so great??? There were so many instances where I was like OH NO and then Alice just swept in with her smart brain and saved everything. That’s what I aspire to be. Oliver was okay – but the friendship between Oliver and Alice was really cute, I loved it. Oliver seemed a little snobby at parts, but I can forgive that.

Other than Alice and Oliver, there aren’t really any characters that are developed especially. They’re the main focus for all of the book, and the other characters are only around for a short time so there isn’t really enough space to develop them. My favourite secondary character was definitely the paper fox (he’s on the cover if you want to see him) because animals are great. Especially talking animals.

There weren’t many parts where I felt like I was walking through molasses trying to finish the chapter. Everything came right after each other so there was no real stopping during reading, which I enjoyed (I have quite a short attention span). But I did find that the ending was a little quick. It was just like “BAM, home, cool, End.” There were no intense standoffs, there was just the end. It was quite anticlimactic to be honest.

I JUST MUST TALK ABOUT THE IMAGERY FOR A QUICK SECOND. I want to do all of the art for this book and illustrate my little life away but exams are in a month and I don’t have the time and I am in pain. Everything in this book is so beautifully described, so if you like drawing and you read this book, please post it on Instagram and tag me or just send it to my email because I’d love to see other people’s interpretations of the characters.

8.5/10
-ABG

My Instagram is here.

book recommendations · book review · books · fiction · literacy

Bird

Warnings: none
Author: Crystal Chan

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Grandpa stopped speaking the day he killed my brother, John.

His name was John until Grandpa said he looked more like a Bird with the way he kept jumping off things, and the name stuck. Bird’s thick, black hair was like the head feathers of the blackbirds, Grandpa said, and he bet that one day Bird would fly like one too. Grandpa kept talking like that, and no one paid him much notice until Bird jumped off a cliff. From that day on, Grandpa never spoke another word. Not one.

The day that Bird tried to fly, the grown-ups were out looking for him – all of them except Mom and Granny. That’s because that very day, I was born.’

This was a chance find in the school library. I’m so happy I found it. I thought it was a more kiddy book than YA, but it covers loads of issues and there are lots of serious underlying themes.

I cried. Multiple times. In public. This book is so sweet and ugh I loved it. The protagonist, Jewel, is 12 years old, half Jamaican, a quarter Mexican and a quarter white, and constantly disobeys her parents without their knowledge. She was such a cool character, and I just wanted to hug her and protect her from the world, even though I knew everything would turn out okay in the end.

The writing is so reflective of the character – it really sounds like a 12 year old who’s had to grow up to fast to live up to her parent’s expectations. The cultures incorporated into this book fascinated me as well – I never knew about Jamaican superstitions or Xolo dogs, but I feel like I’m going to be blaming more of my problems on duppies from now on.

Also, look how gorgeous the cover is. I stared at it for a good few minutes on the bus, and probably made the other people on there think I was a maniac. But seriously, it’s beautiful. I absolutely adored this book.

10/10
-abnormalbookgeek

book recommendations · book review · books · fiction · psychological thriller

Pretty Girl – 13

Warnings: kidnapping, violence, sexual themes, swearing, rape, molestation.
Author: Liz Coley

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‘When thirteen-year-old Angela Gracie Chapman looks in the mirror, someone else looks back — a thin, pale stranger, a sixteen-year-old with haunted eyes. Angie has no memory of the past three years, years in which she was lost to the authorities, lost to her family and friends, lost even to herself. Where has she been, who has been living her life, and what is hiding behind the terrible blackness? There are secrets you can’t even tell yourself.

With a tremendous amount of courage and support from unexpected friends, Angie embarks on a journey into the darkest corners of her mind. As she unearths more and more about her past, she discovers a terrifying secret and must decide when you remember things you wish you could forget, do you destroy the people responsible, or is there another way to feel whole again?’

And yet again, I LOVE IT WHEN PEOPLE GIVE ME THEIR FAVOURITE BOOKS! I got on Thursday and finished it in about two hours – it’s really good. As a student studying Psychology at GCSE, I was already hooked when I learned it was a psychological thriller, and even more excited when a review said it was disturbing – but in a good way.

One of the things that I thought was amazing was the way the characters are portrayed – there were characters I thought I was going to like that I ended up hating, and there were characters I thought I was going to hate that I ended up loving.

I also really enjoyed the swapping between third and second person within the chapters, and the letters that Angie gets in the middle chapters of the book. It’s hard to say much without giving anything away, but this was a part of the book that I found fascinating and really gives the reader an insight into the characters’ minds.

There is nothing bad that I have to say about this book. I adored it cover to cover, liked the characters, liked the descriptions of what had happened and what was happening, I liked it all.

10/10

-abnormalbookgeek

 

book recommendations · book review · books · fiction

Wounds of Honour

Warnings: swearing, sexual references, violence, mild gore.
Author: Anthony Riches
Series: Empire

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THRILLING, AUTHENTIC AND ACTION-PACKED, WOUNDS OF HONOUR IS THE STORY OF A FIGHTING MAN IN THE ANCIENT WORLD’S TOUGHEST AND MOST SUCCESSFUL ARMY.
Marcus Valerius Aquila has scarcely landed in Britannia when he has to run for his life – condemned to a dishonourable death by the power-crazed Emperor Commodus. Desperate, the Praetorian Guard officer agrees to take on a new name, serve in an obscure regiment on Hadrian’s Wall and lie low until he can hope for justice.
Then a rebel army sweeps down from the wastes north of the Wall, and Marcus has to prove he’s hard enough to lead a century in the front line of a brutal war with a merciless enemy.’

As someone who enjoys ancient cultures and religions, I was excited for this book. But within pages of starting, the very un-Roman insult of ‘cumstain’ jarred me into thinking that maybe, just maybe, this wouldn’t be the book I thought it would be.

Most of the book I enjoyed, however I think someone who reads more violent books would find it more to their liking. There was constant descriptions of burning animals, marching, more marching, deaths of ‘blue-nosed bum f*ckers’, even more marching, and the smell of dead bodies, and to be honest, that isn’t my kind of book.

The plot was good, but some bits didn’t add up – Marcus’s whole family had been murdered, but this only came up a few times. Marcus was a ‘traitor to the Emperor’, and again, this was immediately accepted by all of the characters that new about it.

I did like the characters though, especially the female doctor (who was unfortunately quite sexualised, for reasons beyond me. She is a DOCTOR, not a PROSTITUTE.)

This is the kind of book that I feel I wasn’t the target audience for, but I have read reviews that put it in a better light (Find the Goodreads page here).

5/10

-abnormalbookgeek

book recommendations · book review · books · fiction

The Life List

Warnings: sexual references, sexual themes, cursing.
Author: Lori Nelson Spielman

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THINGS TO DO WHEN I GROW UP:
1. HAVE A BABY
2. FALL IN LOVE
3. PERFORM LIVE ON A SUPER-BIG STAGE
Brett Bohlinger seems to have it all: a plum job, a beautiful home and an irresistibly handsome boyfriend. That is, until her beloved mother passes away leaving behind a will with one big stipulation: in order to receive her inheritance, Brett must first complete the list of life goals she’d written when she was fourteen.

As Brett reluctantly embarks on a perplexing journey in search of her adolescent dreams, one thing becomes clear: sometimes life’s sweetest gifts can be found in the most unexpected places.’

One of my favourite things about Christmas is my friends giving me the books they really enjoy. In this case, I’m glad all of my friends know I love books. This was one of the most emotional books I’ve read since The Fault In Our Stars, and I loved it. I started this book Monday lunchtime and had finished it by Tuesday morning.

As someone who has been repeatedly affected by cancer, the premise of this book really resonated to me. Even though the reader never directly reads about the mother in the present, as the book starts with her funeral, the letters that she left for her daughter lets the reader still have a connection to the character, which I really enjoyed.

As well as this, the fact that the main character and reader go through the life list together made me have a deeper interest in the story, as you see Brett develop as a person, and through this, I felt good too. (Even though there were some awkward PDA moments).

BUT

I found that I could predict most of the plot. I can’t count on one hand how many times I whispered ‘I knew it’ under my breath while reading. Although I liked this, it did slightly ruin the immersion when I was stopping at certain important plot point and doing the Snoopy dance in excitement.

9/10 (If you think you’re ready for the tears)

-abnormalbookgeek