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 review · books · bookshelf · fiction · literacy · ya · young adult

Dreamology

Author: Lucy Keating
Warnings: Death of a sibling, parental separation.

‘For as long as Alice can remember, she has dreamed of Max. Max is the boy of her dreams – and only her dreams. Until the morning she finds him sitting next to her in class, very much alive.
As Alice and Max get to know each other all over again, Alice learns that Real Max is nothing like Dream Max. He’s complicated and stubborn and has a whole life Alice isn’t a part of.
When their dreams start interfering with their waking hours, Alice and Max have to find a way to make them stop. But when you fall in love in your dreams, can reality ever be enough?’

I’m not going to say that I bought this for the cover.

But I bought this for the cover.

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You’re not allowed to judge me, the cover is beautiful. So I bought this on Amazon without reading what it was about, but I had heard other reviews saying that other people had enjoyed it.

Once I started it, I ended up really liking the premise – and the unexplained sciencey bits in between, even though every time they talked about dreams it felt like I was doing Psychology revision. (Picture me, sitting at a table and shouting “FREUD!” whenever they talked about the meaning of dreams.) The romance didn’t really have a build up, because they’re already in love, but it was dealt with really well by Lucy Keating to still make their relationship seem new.

I liked the characters, even though they could have had a bit more depth. I think Celeste was my favourite – she just seemed to handle things in a more realistic way (or maybe just how I would have reacted). I was really sad that her character arc wasn’t really tied up properly because she was a secondary character.

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Some of the other characters I liked less – I found Alice a likeable character, but some of the things that she did made me cringe. And the way that all of the characters simply accepted that “Yes they’re connected through dreams this is real and ok” straight away confused me. I’d question it a little. I also think Max is a bit trashy for cheating on his girlfriend so easily and again, there’s a lack of questioning. WTF, Max?

Although the romance in this book is cute and all, bits of the science seemed off to me (not only the fact that it’s fake shh). I’ve just demonstrated how quick I am to question literally everything, so I found this a good don’t-ask-questions-just-accept-it kind of book.

But the cover though.

5/10
-ABG

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.

books · fiction · ya · young adult

#CampNaNoWriMo Is Here!

What? Two Not-reviews in one week? What kind of scam are you running here?

Well, my friend, let me tell you. I am not a reading machine, as much as I try to be, and reviewing is hard. I can’t pump them out like some sort of crazy reviewing monster. I DON’T GET PAID FOR THIS! (on that note, someone please pay me for this).

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After reading the title of this post, you may ask what is #NaNoWriMo? That’s what I’m here to tell you. Be patient.

NaNoWriMo is National Novel Writing Month, which I am participating in for the FIRST TIME this year! *confetti cannon* The book that I have planned involves aliens, lesbians, giant planetary monsters and general ~aesthetics~. I’m creating the Pinterest board and let me tell you it is looking top quality. (I’m also writing the novel but that’s not important, hush). The point of CampNaNoWriMo is to find other writers and work on your projects together in ‘Cabins’.

If you want to find me, my username is abnormalbookgeek! Come find me so we can chat about book and how hard writing is and how stressed we all are about character depth :))))

73e6676153bf57a23774265d48f2fc1fAre you doing #CampNaNoWriMo? What is the genre of book that you’re writing? Do you want to see my novel’s Pinterest board?

 

book review · books · bookshelf · fiction · nonfiction · ya · young adult

Top Ten Authors I’ve Met/Want to Meet

My first go at Top Ten Tuesday! How exciting.
So this is both the Top Ten authors that I have met, and those that I want to meet in the future (because I am a fangirl and I want to meet the people that I want to obsess over okay thanks).

Authors I’ve Met

Cathy Cassidy
I’ve seen her talk twice now I think, and I got her book Fortune Cookie the second time I saw her. I had a nice chat with her and another book blogger (abookandbeyond, go check out her blog, she’s great) and she was really lovely. Her agent even let me have the book for £2 cheaper because I didn’t bring enough money for it.

Lucy Saxon
I saw her speak at the Hay Festival in the UK, and oml. She was so cool in the talk that she was doing with two other young authors. I got her books and UGHHHHHH. They’re perfect and I love them and the third one is out now so I have to buy it. She’s also got really cool hair, so when I got my books signed I told her that and then ran away.
It makes me very angry because practically no one else on the blogosphere knows about her and she’s SO GOOD. Read her books please and thanks.

Neil Gaiman
The Graveyard Book was one of my all time faves as a kid. I met him and completely geeked, so didn’t say anything at all and I’ve regretted it ever since. Neil, if you’re reading this, I’m sorry I’m a nerd.

Alan Gibbons
He came to my school when I was in year 8. He was very interesting and I got his book inspired by the Minotaur (I can’t remember the name sORRY), which is a lot more my style than his books inspired by combat and war. He was very nice, and I also didn’t talk to him. Even though I have a very confident and opinionated online voice, I am a very meek little mole in real life.

Authors I Want to Meet

Maggie Steifvater
I would like to have a very LONG AND DETAILED CONVERSATION about the Raven Cycle. Preferably with Maggie. I just have so many questions. Why is there no sequel to The Scorpio Races? Why isn’t Gansey real? Why do I want to be part of Blue’s family? I need answers. I just want everything to be okay again in my little head.
Anyone who hasn’t read any of her books, do it right now. PLeaseeeeeee. So I can have long internet conversations with you about how perfect they are.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Chimamanda is one of my icons. She gives a different perspective on feminism and helps me to understand things better through her books, which are also so entertaining. UNF. I just want to meet her and see her talk and love her. I’m doing my graphics project at the moment at underrepresented feminists, and Chimamanda is one of them. She’s so much fun to draw.

Leigh Bardugo
Again. So many questions. CROOKED KINGDOM? SIX OF CROWS? WHY CAN’T I FIND THE GRISHA BOOKS IN ANY SHOPS NEAR ME? I also want to ask where she gets all of her ideas because they are PERFECT. Theives and knives and boys that I want to squish and girls that I want to squish.

Jennifer Niven
Her books make me cry. I want to see if meeting her will make me cry too. That is all.

J K Rowling
Must I even explain? The Harry Potter universe is one of my favourite long series (I get bored very easily) and also my favourite films. Her life story is so inspiring and everything she makes makes me want to cry a little bit (aka NEWT PERFECT MAN SCAMANDER. WHERE CAN I FIND ONE? AND I’M OLD ENOUGH TO MARRY NOW SO PREPARE YOURSELF REDMAYNE) I just want to give her a hug and thank her for putting me in Slytherin.

Please comment and tell me if you’ve met any of my bucket list authors. Were they perfect humans or were they slightly disappointing?

-abnormalbookgeek

book review · books · fiction

The Idea Of You

Warnings: miscarriage, swearing, teen pregnancy.
Author: Amanda Prowse
Release Date: March 21st, 2017

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‘With her fortieth birthday approaching, Lucy Carpenter dares to hope that she finally has it all: a wonderful new husband, Jonah, a successful career and the chance of a precious baby of her own. Life couldn’t be more perfect.
But the reality of becoming parents proves much harder than Lucy and Jonah imagined. Jonah’s own love and support is unquestioning, but as Lucy struggles with work and her own failing dreams, the strain on their marriage increases. Suddenly it feels like Lucy is close to losing everything.’

I got pre-approved for this book on NetGalley (I was the most surprised of everyone). When I first started reading, I was a bit skeptical. I felt like a book about a forty year old woman wasn’t really being aimed at teen girls, and I don’t usually go for the slice-of-life format, unless it’s in gooey contemporaries. But through my doubts, I ended up liking this book.

I did feel like I just coasted through this book, I was reading and enjoying it but didn’t feel particularly immersed. HOWEVER! There’s a twist near the end of the book that I saw coming, but it still made me a lot more interested in the last chapters in the book. I didn’t really connect fully with the characters through most of the book, but the end did make me tear up a little bit. I thought the idea was really sweet, and it made the whole book have a kind of angsty, bittersweet feel. Because I was reading on my Kindle I couldn’t really judge how long the book was, but I managed to speed-read this in a day so it can’t be that long.

I found that apart from the major characters (Lucy, Jonah and Camille), you don’t really get to know the rest of the characters and it just focuses on their family dynamic. This might be the reason that I found this book a bit hard to get into – Lucy had no life outside of her marriage, so I didn’t connect with her very easily. The ways I connect with her were through her hobbies, kind of like Camille (a teen like me) formed a relationship with her. But even though I wanted to feel a Teen camaraderie with Camille, I found her a bit bleh. She was a stereotypical moody teenage character that writers who aren’t teens like to portray. I did like Lucy’s family though – they were in a few scenes so didn’t get a load of development, but they seemed nice.

All in all, this seems like a book to read on a rainy afternoon when you’re feeling a bit sorry for yourself and want a good cry. I think my disconnect from it was simply because I don’t think I’m the target demographic, so if you’re a 30-40 year old woman who’s read this, please tell me what you thought.

6/10
-ABG

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

Americanah

Warnings: Swearing,vague sexual references, mild racism, mild abortion references.
Author: Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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‘As teenagers, Ifemelu and Obinze fall in love in a Nigeria under military dictatorship. The self-assured Ifemelu departs for America, where Obinze hopes to join her, but post-9/11 America will not let him in, and he plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, after so long apart and so many changes, will they find the courage to meet again, face to face?’

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is one of my IDOLS. I’m drawing her for my GCSE Graphics project and I’ve pre-ordered a bunch of her books to binge from the library. I loved Purple Hibiscus so I was super excited to read this (even though the only copy I could find was in LARGE PRINT).

I really enjoyed Ifemelu as a character – she seemed real and genuine, not manufactured like some book characters. Her journey from Nigeria to the US wasn’t the typical ‘I moved here and now I have a nice house and I’m making money and I love everything!!!’ It showed the struggle that she went to both in understanding the culture and finding a job. I felt like most of the story focused on her, detailing her life, relationships and blog posts. This incredible depth into her life made the sections on Obinze and his life in London seem a bit more fuzzy. But, it also made him seem more interesting as the story only focused on him for the most interesting parts of his life – both the highs and lows. The other characters were less central but also had lots of depth and emotion.

I liked the way that the story would flip both between the two characters and through time frames – sometimes it was modern, sometimes it was in their teens as they first met. I enjoyed seeing the development of their relationship in different aspects and I want someone like that lmao please love me. I don’t know if it was the large text of the book (it made it 730 pages long compared to 477 pages in the normal copy) but this book seemed very long. That’s not to say that I was bored, although some sections were a bit slow, but the way Adichie writes made it seem like someone’s life, not a whistle-stop tour of only the extremely dramatic parts.

There are undertones of racism and sexism all through the book – both in the US with Ifemelu, UK with Obinze and Nigeria with both of them. This made a theme that interlocked everything in the book, and showed the reader that although the countries are very different in terms of development, they have a lot of the same problems. There’s also discussion of mental illness and how it affects black communities – Ifemelu is firm in the fact that she isn’t depressed because that just happens to Americans and white people. This made for the book being generally very heavy reading that didn’t particularly seem heavy as the nuances to the issues are so subtle.

To be honest, I liked Purple Hibiscus more as I related to the characters and the story, but I still really liked the writing of Americanah and the way that people leave and reenter Nigeria, along with how that affects people in Nigeria.

7/10
-abnormalbookgeek

 

book review · books · nonfiction · poetry · ya · young adult

Milk and Honey

Warnings: sex, rape, molestation, abuse.
Author: Rapi Kaur

23513349milk and honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. It is about the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss and femininity. It is split into four chapters, and each chapter serves a different purpose, deals with a different pain, heals a different heartache. milk and honey takes readers through a journey of the most bitter moments in life and finds sweetness in them because there is sweetness everywhere if you are just willing to look.’

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHH!
As a feminist, I saw poetry from this on all of my favourite blogs and knew I had to read it. This is absolutely gorgeous and I encourage everyone to read it. (This may also not be a very long review as this wasn’t a very long book).

Kaur’s poetry not only highlights the pain of women and girls worldwide, but also what WOC have to go through when pressured to Eurocentric beauty standards. If you are a feminist, or trying to understand feminists, please read this. I read this in the afternoon that I got it, simply because of the short nature of the poetry and how much I was enjoying it.

The illustrations are also beautiful. I enjoy drawing and art, so these especially added to the overall experience of the book and helped me to fill in the blanks around the poem and the situation in which they were set. If you read and liked One (if you haven’t read it, find my review here) the format here is very similar, with the same unhidden emotion. I’m one of the people who tends to feel emotion more through poetry than in narrative storylines – I’m not quite sure why. This resulted in me becoming very invested, very quickly.

rupi
In this time, with a rape-y sweet potato as leader of the Free World, we need to band together – not just as women, but as people – to protect our rights, and the rights of those coming after us. Resist and revolt.

10/10
-abnormalbookgeek