Today’s Picture Book Buys

Gooood evening!

I’m bringing a short but sweet post to you today where in my head I am shouting with excitement about two books that I bought today. (Sorry if you follow me on Instagram and Twitter…you may already have an idea about which books they are! Shameless plug: @snailycanflyy for both!)

I was in Sainsburys earlier, and of course had to have a look at the offerings in their books section. I was very excited to see Christmas Shopaholic there…pointed out by my boyfriend as a potential book to buy…I bought it last week…and then I saw the illustrated edition of The Goblet of Fire, beautiful and definitely on my Christmas list…and then I moved across to the picture books and saw a familiar face peeking out.

73420407_148912753009535_7682146049954751660_nIT WAS SPROUTZILLA.

SPROUTZILLA IS BACK.

Just look. He’s awesome. If you haven’t read the first book (Sproutzilla vs. Christmas) then I HIGHLY recommend that you get a copy; it’s funny and entertaining and Christmassy and wonderful.

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And then I moved across again and saw another picture book tucked away with another familiar face, and grinning like a Cheshire Cat, I picked up my second picture book that I had to buy immediately.

OSCAR!

And better yet, it’s Oscar at Christmas and it looks as wonderful as the first book!

And now I’m signing off to go and read my two new shiny picture books that have made me very happy today!

kayleigh

BLOG TOUR: Invisible in a Bright Light by Sally Gardner

Invisible In A Bright Light (Hardback)From I, Coriander to Invisible in a Bright Light, Sally Gardner’s first middle grade novel in 14 years soars with the imagination of a master story-teller. A pitch-perfect story about a crystal chandelier that splinters into a thousand pieces, a girl abandoned as a baby on the steps of an opera house and a dangerous game called the Reckoning.

It is 1870: opening night at the Royal Opera House in a freezing city by the sea, where a huge, crystal chandelier in the shape of a galleon sparkles magically with the light of 750 candles.

Celeste, a theatre rat, wakes up in a costume basket from what she hopes is a bad dream, to find that everyone at the theatre where she works thinks she is someone else.

When the chandelier falls, she is haunted by a strange girl who claims to know Celeste’s past and why she must risk playing a game called the Reckoning to try to save the people she loves.

So, having read that, you can hopefully see exactly why I had to read this book and jumped at the chance to be involved in the blog tour!

I wasn’t too sure what to write about today; of course I will review this book but I wanted to do something a little bit different to what I usually post! I was having a think and then thought that I’d do a bit of a discussion post where I talk about why I think books like Invisible in a Bright Light are necessary and why the synopsis is something that appeals to readers at both the target age and beyond.

Invisible in a Bright Light reminds me a lot of some of my favourite books such as The Diamond of Drury Lane, The Golden Butterfly and even YA books such as Caraval! The common theme: theatres, magic and danger. This is exactly why I was so excited to read this book; I adore middle grade books with these themes and there’s just something about them that is appealing and gripping. These books are very character driven but also combine with a fantastic plot that just keeps twisting and turning thus making it a read that you just can’t put down! Invisible in a Bright Light is no exception – I was hooked from the beginning with the intricate storytelling and wanted to know more about the characters and who they were.

So why do these themes appeal to readers of all ages? I think it’s the same as why films such as The Greatest Showman and The Prestige are so popular – they allow you to become lost in a world that’s not so far from our own and is full of the unknown and we are curious creatures! However, at the same time the characters are real and relatable. There’s just something about magic that captures the imagination! This is the same whether you’re eight or whether you’re twenty eight.

Books like Invisible in a Bright Light are so important because they do have this broad appeal and they’re the kind of story that’ll engage readers. For the target age, it’s the sort of book that really allows them to use and develop their imagination, and even for older readers it does this too! There’s mystery and intrigue to keep you guessing throughout and the writing style is beautiful and with just the right amount of detail to allow you to imagine the story perfectly.

Invisible in a Bright Light publishes on Thursday 17th October with Zephyr and is available to preorder now!

This blog tour is filled with lots of my favourite other book bloggers, and so I’d definitely recommend checking out their posts which will either be live now or appearing this week!

Sally Gardner Blog Tour Graphic



Thank you to Jade at Zephyr for the proof of this book and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour!

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK 2019 – What I’ve Learnt From CBT

Hello and welcome to my final thoughts for this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week. Sorry I forgot to post yesterday, but it’s given me a bit of extra time to think about what I’d like to talk about today.

So, as you may or may not know, I’ve had a few rounds of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) now. Initially I was undergoing treatment for OCD a few years ago, and at the time I didn’t think it was helpful. Looking back, it was! A lot of my behaviours have slowly changed over the years since then and my OCD is now under very good control. I also had high intensity CBT last year into this year for anxiety and depression. It’s very weird how therapy works; in the moment it doesn’t seem as though it’s doing a lot. I’d go along every week, tick numbers on a sheet and talk about my feelings and what I’d like to achieve in the next week whilst learning different techniques to help with this. Some were far from useful – I don’t like mindfulness and find that my brain is always far too busy to effectively get it! For pretty much all the mindfulness exercises I didn’t take a lot away. However, there are some things that were very useful, and it’s these that I’d like to talk about a little bit more today!

Linking into the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week which is Body Image, my therapist and I found that low self esteem was a big trigger which would then become a bit of a circle as I’d then feel worse. Over the years with various counsellors we’ve got to the bottom of a lot of why I feel so negatively about myself, but that’s half of the solution. I still needed to learn how to deal with those negative thoughts. One of my pieces of homework was to write down all my positive qualities and what other people saw that was good in me. It’s a pretty challenging task, thinking positively about yourself, and it seemed quite big headed at times saying “I’m good at my job!” or “my boyfriend thinks I’m beautiful!” because I really don’t see it that way! But, as I was told, in the future if I’m feeling low about myself, I can go back to that and see that okay, maybe I’m not so bad! 

Another piece of homework was to take time for me. I didn’t realise quite how important this is, and it doesn’t have to be anything big. I was down about the fact that I didn’t seem to enjoy anything I used to and just couldn’t get motivated. We decided that my weekly task from then on would be to make time for myself, even if it was only ten minutes, and combining two of the things that I used to love was a good way to start. My homework was bliss; it was to have a bath and do some reading to relax and make sure that I take that little bit of time for me! I found this to be achievable and it really helped with getting me back into reading.

The final thing that I took away was monitoring my moods. I found it so useful throughout my course to see how my moods were fluctuating through the depression and anxiety scale that’s used (for anyone who’s never filled one out before, you’re given about 7-8 statements and have to circle how often it’s affected you in the past week and it ranges from very mild symptoms such as lack of motivation to the most severe). Because I found that so useful, we decided that I would try to keep a mood diary and we tried out a few different ones. I found the smiley face system to be the easiest – it took just a few seconds out of my day where I would draw a smiley face to show my mood! If I wanted to I could write a little bit about why and it was interesting at the next appointment to see how something that had made me really upset in the week was actually forgotten within days and wasn’t actually a big deal!

I know that CBT isn’t for everyone, but for anyone that’s struggling with mental health I would highly recommend trying it if it’s something that’s offered to you. I was signed up when I was at a low point, but my appointment took a few months. By then I was feeling a lot better but on the encouragement of my doctor I still went; sometimes it’s easier to learn the techniques when you’re not necessarily suffering too much. Time will tell whether the skills I learnt will work if I dip majorly again, but I’m hopeful that I’m a lot stronger and have a good knowledge about my moods to be able to handle them a little bit better!

kayleigh

MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK 2019 – Where Am I Now?

A year goes so quickly! It seems like no time at all since last May, and Mental Health Awareness Week 2018.

As you may or may not know, this week is Mental Health Awareness Week and I like to share a few of my thoughts over the week about various topics to do with mental health. Today I thought I’d just give a bit of an update on how I’m doing with my mental health. If you’ve followed my blog or Twitter for a while, you’ll have read about or seen how my moods and conditions fluctuate. However, I’ve actually been fairly stable for about six months now! So much so that I completed my course of CBT and am currently in the process of reducing my Sertraline tablets (admittedly that’s been spurred on by anxiety, thank you Daily Mail!) and my melt downs are much less frequent!

The one thing I will say is that it’s not all been plain sailing. I still have down days, and I still struggle with anxiety fairly often. But I know better how to manage it and how to recognise the signs. I also have a really good support network at work and at home which really does make a difference; my boyfriend especially knows all the signs that I’m dipping and is there waiting with a big hug!

I’m really proud of how far I’ve come; I genuinely can’t remember how it feels to feel so low like I did before. When I first started my CBT, I was answering a very high score for depression and feelings of wanting to harm myself, but by the time I’d been going to sessions for a few months, I noticed it gradually start to decrease and get to a very low score by the time I completed the course. Even now I still think my answers would be pretty low! I really hope I can continue this trend, but, even if I do dip, I know that I can pull myself back up.kayleigh

Check out my posts from last year’s Mental Health Awareness Week:

My Mental Health and Social Media
Book Recommendations
Meds…good or bad?
Mental Health and the Workplace
Stress

UK vs US Book Covers – Middle Grade Edition!

Hello! I’m here today with a post that’s inspired by one of my favourite Booktubers – Hailey in Bookland. I love watching her UK vs US book cover videos and so wanted to have a go myself! I’ve tried to go for the earliest covers that I’m aware of the book having. First up, middle grade…

Image result for murder is bad manners

US

Image result for murder most unladylike

UK

Murder Most Unladylike/Murder Is Bad Manners – Robin Stevens

I find the US edition a little bit dated compared to the gorgeous and bold UK cover! Plus, the title change…Murder Most Unladylike is much better!

 

 

 

The Goldfish Boy

US

The Goldfish Boy

UK

The Goldfish Boy – Lisa Thompson

I actually really like both of these covers in their own way! The UK one uses colour really well and stands out, but the US one catches the emotion of the story more. Overall though, I’d be more likely to pick up the UK cover.

 

 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

US

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone

UK

Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone/Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone – J.K. Rowling

UK wins. Title is better, cover is better. It’s just iconic really!

 

 

 

The Eye of the North

US

The Eye of the North

UK

The Eye of the North – Sinéad O’Hart

I definitely prefer the UK edition; it’s absolutely gorgeous and makes you want the book and want to read the book whereas the US one is a bit dated.

 

 

 

The Diamond of Drury Lane (A Cat Royal Adventure)

US

Image result for the diamond of drury lane

UK

The Diamond of Drury Lane – Julia Golding

Photos don’t do the UK edition justice; it’s the most gorgeous little hardback! I think the US edition looks a bit too much like a TV tie-in edition for my liking.

 

 

Children of the Red King #1: Midnight for Charlie Bone

US

Image result for midnight for charlie bone

UK

Midnight for Charlie Bone – Jenny Nimmo

SHINY! The UK edition is lovely and has this magical shimmer to it…the US edition, however, at the risk of sounding like a broken record, looks very dated! UK wins.

 

 

 

Reflection: A Twisted Tale

US

Mulan: Reflection (Twisted Tales 416 Disney)

UK

Reflection – Elizabeth Lim

Whilst I do love the UK covers for the Twisted Tales series, I’m actually going to give the US their first win for this post; I love their covers even more!

 

 

 

BadBeginning.jpg

US

A Series of Unfortunate Events: The Bad Beginning

UK

The Bad Beginning – Lemony Snicket

And we’re back to chosing UK covers to win; the bright contrast of the colours against the black for A Series of Unfortunate Events looks amazing, whereas the US covers are just a bit dull and old-fashioned.

 

 

The Great Good Thing

US

The Great Good Thing

UK

The Great Good Thing – Roderick Townley

What is that US cover? It’s AWFUL! The UK one, whilst not as inviting as it could be, is beautiful and at least makes you want to read the book!

 

 

 

And that concludes my first UK vs US post! It was really fun to do – I’d definitely say that UK publishers make their books more appealing to me! Would you agree or disagree with my winners?

kayleigh

Books I’ve Unhauled

I own a lot of books.

However, that number has decreased a fair amount over the past month or so as I’ve had several book unhauls! I started off small, just removing titles that were duplicates or proofs I’d never read, then I started to go through books with a bit more thought – would I ever actually read it? Did I dislike it when I read it? I’m so proud of how many I’ve got rid of so far; if you’ve read my previous post on unhauling, you’ll know how difficult and at one point inconcevable this was for me! Whilst I can’t remember every book that I’ve unhauled (which probably says something…), there are some that stand out. Linking in to some thoughts I’ve enjoyed reading about on other blogs (Jenn‘s springs to mind!) on negative reviews, the two seem to go hand in hand for me.

First up, one of my least favourite books in the world:

Image result for paper butterflies lisaPaper Butterflies by Lisa Heathfield. I received this book back in 2016 when I was a longlist reader for the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize. Whilst Lisa’s writing style is lovely, and probably is the only reason I made it through this book, the story is horrendous. It’s the first and only book where my mum has even noticed how much I was hating reading it and told me to stop. It was traumatic. I know the topic is supposed to be hard hitting, but it was uncomfortable and I just didn’t get it. When it was shortlisted, I was gutted; there was no way I could recommend this book to anyone! So yeah, unhauled.

Image result for optimists die first

Next, Optimists Die First by Susin Nielsen. This book, I did give three stars; it made me laugh and it was entertaining. However, the anxiety representation in it let it down so so badly; it was awful! Who knew that anxiety could be totally cured by romance?

Image result for the journey picture book

I also got rid of a fair few picture books which I either disliked the illustrations or the story of. These included The Journey by Francesca Sanna (just wasn’t for me; whilst it’s beautiful, I found the story tedious and not really the kind of thing I’d read at storytime), Little Red by Bethan Woollvin (simple but bright illustrations with a weird retelling of Little Red Riding Hood going alongside it…not good) and Nara and the Island by Dan Ungureanu (dull illustrations, dull story).

Have you read any of these? Would you agree with me unhauling them?

kayleigh

 

That Never-Ending NetGalley TBR – April 2019

It’s April, which means it’s time for my bi-annual NetGalley TBR post! I’ve tried to cool it down over on NetGalley and focus more on catching up on books I’ve already got or physical proofs, and that shows because since October there are only three titles that I’ve not got around to reading! Two of them are already out and have moved onto my physical TBR too since I have copies, but hopefully I’ll get around to the first book before it’s published!

51922999_615934295504129_242882673275597505_nCall It What You Want – Brigid Kemmerer

  • 27th June
  • Bloomsbury

I Owe You One – Sophie Kinsella

  • 7th February
  • Transworld

the colour of shadowsThe Colour of Shadows – Phyllida Shrimpton

  • 7th February
  • Hot Key

Have you read any of these? What did you think?

kayleigh

 

What A Month!

March is coming to an end, and I am aware that I’ve been fairly quiet on here for which I can only apologise. If you’ve read some of my previous posts or on Twitter, you may know that I’m in the process of buying my first home – WHICH IS SO STRESSFUL! I’m so excited and pleased with how I’m coping with it all though; I’m trying to take everything in my stride and just be organised and keep things going smoothly. So yeah, that’s taking up a fair amount of my time at the minute!

That aside, I’m also working hard on my mental health. Work has thrown up a few challenges in recent weeks and is likely to get a bit tricky soon as we have a crossover of maternity leaves in the room, but I’m coping okay and venting when I need to which really helps. I can’t work out whether I’m just more agitated than usual because of hormones, the situation or…

I’m finally coming off my antidepressants!

I’ve been on Sertraline on and off since the end of 2012, so it’s a long time to have depended on it, and for the past year I’ve been on the maximum dose of 200mg. Coming off it is making me feel a bit more tired than usual, but other than that I feel like I’m doing really well! On the advice of my pharmacist at work, I am alternating doses each day so that I come off it in 25mg doses rather than jumping down 50mg each time, so it will take a little while but I’m really hoping that soon I’ll be tablet free because once I stop that I’ll also stop taking Aripiprazole which I’ve already halved.

The only thing that’s not going so well at the minute is my reading! I’m just struggling to find the time and concentration needed to read, but I’m loving audiobooks at the minute as a way of still immersing myself in stories but without as much focus needed. I’m going to start trying to manage my time better though from April to see if I can start to catch up on some long overdue reads and reviews! I want to start working on my blog a bit more this month and am really excited to get back into it. I think one of the things that’s really spurred me on is some exciting news I got over on Twitter on Friday:

I’ve been longlisted for Best Newcomer Blogger for the UKYA Blogger Awards!

I never ever expected to get a single nomination, so to have been longlisted with nine other wonderful bloggers, many of whom I’ve looked up to, is amazing! If you happen to be reading this and nominated me, I’d like to say a massive THANK YOU to you; I’m truly grateful and so happy! This is such a strong longlist, making it a difficult decision to make! If you do enjoy my content though, and would like to vote, please head across to http://www.ukyaba.co.uk!

So yeah, that’s March! I’m going to spend this evening rewatching To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before…for the sixth time this weekend…and preparing some posts for April!

I hope you’re all doing well, and thank you for sticking with me during my slight quietness!

kayleigh

My Final (for now) Feelings About Bookshops

A while ago, I did a rambly post about my feelings about bookshops, and in some of my mental health posts I’ve mentioned my experience as a bookseller. I’m now in a much better place with my mental health, and I’ve been thinking about how I feel about Waterstones, both at a local level and as a whole.

I can’t keep on cutting off my nose to spite my face; just because two managers were vindictive and malicious, and the member of HR that I was referred to refused to give a satisfactory response, doesn’t mean that I should be denied the simple pleasure of going to a bookshop.

This has been made slightly easier by having the knowledge that one of those managers is now at a shop that’s not particularly local to me, and the other has been transferred to another shop (although it’s a branch that I always liked, I can deal with not going in there; it’s not my local one) and, again, whilst I can be a bit annoyed that although she’s no longer a manager she gets paid the same for doing less work (a bizarre thing is that Waterstones can remove your position to a lower one but can’t deduct your pay), I can now easily avoid having to encounter her.

I’ve decided to let go of the fact that HR didn’t do anything. Sure, bullying and unfair dismissal are things that should be investigated, but I have to accept that, for the person who received my letter, they’re not issues that the company takes seriously.

So, what next?

My local branch now has a new manager, and by all accounts she’s lovely! I’m excited to be able to go into this shop and see it thrive, and in all honesty, I’ll be happy to support it again. I think that if I’d had a manager who actually knew how to manage people and get the best out of people, I’d’ve progressed a lot more. I had ambitions and managers from other branches saw that, and it’s just a shame that I had the misfortune of working under someone who resented anyone who thought for themselves and wanted to progress. I hope to see the booksellers in my local shop fall back in love with bookselling and the company.

Whilst I resent the fact that I never got to demonstrate my full potential as a bookseller and it makes me feel sad, in the end it all worked out for the better. My mental health has improved tenfold, I’ve got my confidence back, I’m in a job that I LOVE and I’ve discovered the world of book blogging, bookish Twitter and bookstagram! I get to talk books with like-minded people, essentially be a bookseller on the internet and read for the love of it.

kayleigh

My Year of NetGalley 2018

This year has been the first year that I’ve been properly using NetGalley, and what a year it’s been! I’ve been approved for 86 titles, and have provided feedback for …%. I did go a bit crazy at the beginning; I’d never really used NetGalley before December 2017 and so at first I was requesting titles that, whilst I did have an interest in reading, I wasn’t overly desperate to read. As the year’s gone on, I’ve really learnt how to use NetGalley properly to get the best out of my experience both for myself and for the publishers who so kindly approve my requests. I do still have quite a few books from earlier in the year that are outstanding, and are on my NetGalley TBR, but I am really proud of how many books I’ve been able to read and review!

I’m particularly proud this year of some of my achievements; I’ve been auto-approved by two imprints which I am now on the blogger list for, I’ve had invites to blogger events from another publisher (I think I’m sort of on their mailing list; I get requests every so often!) and I’ve been involved in a blog tour through NetGalley! Through submitting my review of Sunflowers in February on NetGalley, I also gained my highest number of views on a single post on here!

Reviews Published80%25 Book Reviews

Do you use NetGalley? How has your year been?

kayleigh