MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK 2019 – Body Image and Books

I didn’t realise that the theme of this year’s Mental Health Awareness Week is Body Image, and this is such a good theme to get everyone thinking and talking about! Personally, I’ve really struggled with body image for well over 15 years, and it’s led to disordered eating and depression on many occasions, and I’ve also seen the destruction it can cause to people’s lives first hand. Most people will at some point not feel good enough, or feel insecure about their body, and I think that raising awareness of how it is normal to feel these things but how to cope with those feelings in a safe way is really important.

One way that awareness can be raised is, of course, through books. Young Adult fiction in particular is fantastic for showing struggles with body image at a time when our bodies are changing and many issues arise. I’m going to share below some of the titles that have really helped me to understand that I’m not alone in feeling so insecure over the years. I will say, however, that if you’re triggered by anything to do with eating disorders then please do use your judgement on whether reading these books is right for you. Also, there is definitely a lack of books about male body image out there! All of the books I’ve read have been about girls and that’s not to say that boys don’t have difficulties too, because they do. If anyone has suggestions of ones that I’ve not come across, please do mention them in the comments!

Wintergirls (Paperback)Wintergirls – Laurie Halse Anderson

A beautifully written and riveting look at anorexia from acclaimed author Laurie Halse Anderson. Cassie and Lia are best friends, and united in their quest to be thin. But when Cassie is found dead in a motel room, Lia must question whether she continues to lose weight, or choose life instead.

Mates, Dates and Chocolate Cheats – Cathy Hopkins

When Izzie returns from the school trip to Italy, she tries to put on her jeans, but they won’t do up! It looks as though she has put on eight pounds since Christmas and all her clothes have become very tight. Izzie then goes into the horrible spiral of becoming obsessive about her weight.

Girls Under Pressure - Girls (Paperback)Girls Under Pressure – Jacqueline Wilson

Magda is tall and glamorous, Nadine is willowy and ‘gothic’. And Ellie . . . well, Ellie is just plain normal. The three girls have been best friends forever, but now Ellie is convinced she’s fat, Nadine wants to be a model, and Magda worries that her appearance is giving guys the wrong idea. The pressure is on for them to change the way they look – but can they learn to love themselves, just the way they are? 

Second Star to the Right – Deborah Hautzig

This is an honest and moving account of a girl in the grip of anorexia nervosa. On the face of it, Leslie is a normal, healthy, well-adjusted fourteen-year-old girl. She goes to a good school, has a great friend in Cavett, and a mother who loves her to the moon and back. She should be happy, yet she’s not. She would be, she thinks, if only she were thinner. But ‘thinking thin’ becomes a dangerous obsession and Leslie’s weight drops to five stone, threatening to destroy her and the whole fabric of her family life. Only by realizing that this condition is an illness – and one that has its roots in a deep problem – can Leslie hope to survive.

Holding Up the Universe (Paperback)Holding Up The Universe – Jennifer Niven

Everyone thinks they know Libby Strout, the girl once dubbed ‘America’s Fattest Teen’. But no one’s taken the time to look past her weight to get to see who she really is. Since her mum’s death, she’s been picking up the pieces in the privacy of her home, dealing with her heartbroken father and her own grief. Now, Libby’s ready: for high school, for new friends, for love, and for EVERY POSSIBILITY LIFE HAS TO OFFER. I know the part I want to play here at MVB High. I want to be the girl who can do anything. 
Everyone thinks they know Jack Masselin too. Yes, he’s got swagger, but he’s also mastered the art of fitting in. What no one knows is that Jack has a secret: he can’t recognize faces. Even his own brothers are strangers to him. He’s the guy who can re-engineer and rebuild anything, but he can’t understand what’s going on with the inner workings of his own brain. So he tells himself to play it cool: Be charming. Be hilarious. Don’t get too close to anyone. Until he meets Libby. When the two get tangled up in a cruel high school game which lands them in group counseling, Libby and Jack are both angry, and then surprised. Because the more time they spend together, the less alone they feel. Because sometimes when you meet someone, it changes the world – theirs and yours. 
Jennifer Niven delivers another poignant, exhilarating love story about finding that person who sees you for who you are – and seeing them right back. 

Just Listen – Sarah Dessen

I’m Annabel. I’m the girl who has it all. Model looks, confidence. A great social life. I’m one of the lucky ones. Aren’t I?
My ‘best friend’ is spreading rumours about me. My family is slowly falling apart. It’s turning into a long, lonely summer, full of secrets and silence.
But I’ve met this guy who won’t let me hide away. He’s one of those intense types, obsessed with music. He’s determined to make me listen. And he’s determined to make me smile. But can he help me forget what happened the night everything changed?

Eleanor & Park (Paperback)Eleanor & Park – Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor is the new girl in town, and she’s never felt more alone. All mismatched clothes, mad red hair and chaotic home life, she couldn’t stick out more if she tried.
Then she takes the seat on the bus next to Park. Quiet, careful and – in Eleanor’s eyes – impossibly cool, Park’s worked out that flying under the radar is the best way to get by.
Slowly, steadily, through late-night conversations and an ever-growing stack of mix tapes, Eleanor and Park fall in love. They fall in love the way you do the first time, when you’re 16, and you have nothing and everything to lose.
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, Eleanor & Park is funny, sad, shocking and true – an exquisite nostalgia trip for anyone who has never forgotten their first love.

kayleigh

 

 

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Six for Sunday: 12th May 2019

Hello and happy Sunday! It’s so weird; I haven’t had to wear a coat today and it’s been so warm. I’ve had a nice day with my bestie celebrating her birthday! Six for Sunday is a weekly meme hosted by A Little But A Lot! Today’s theme is:

The Ever Growing TBR: 2018 books I want to re-read

  1. img_3179Legendary – Stephanie Garber
  2. I Was Born For This – Alice Oseman
  3. i stop somewhereSunflowers in February – Phyllida Shrimpton
  4. Death in the Spotlight – Robin Stevens
  5. To Kill a Kingdom – Alexandra Christo
  6. The Exact Opposite of Okay – Laura Steven

Some of my all-time favourite books came out in 2018, all listed above! I really hope to get around to rereading all of these at some point!

kayleigh

 

WWW Wednesday: 8th May 2019

Good evening! I’ve had a really good reading week this week; I’ve had a few days off work and have found a few titles that have really caught my imagination and have been ones that I just haven’t been able to put down!


What are you currently reading? 

FINALE! It’s finally in my hands and it’s beautiful! I’ve only had a chance to read about 20 pages so far, and already I’m loving it.

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What did you recently finish reading?

So far this month I’ve read Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly, and I’m so glad that I finally made the time to read this wonderful retelling! I also read Owen and the Soldier by Lisa Thompson which was beautiful, and Malamander by Thomas Taylor. Fun fact – he illustrated the original Harry Potter books!

What do you think you’ll read next?

I’d like to read some more of my new books next – I have a fair few to choose from!

kayleigh

STEPSISTER – Jennifer Donnelly

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RELEASED: 15/05/2019
PUBLISHER: Hot Key
GENRE: Young Adult, Retelling, Fantasy

‘In an ancient city by the sea, three sisters – a maiden, a mother, and a crone – are drawing maps by candlelight. Sombre, with piercing grey eyes, they are the three Fates, and every map is a human life . . .’ Stepsister takes up where Cinderella’s tale ends. We meet Isabelle, the younger of Cinderella’s two stepsisters. Ella is considered beautiful; stepsister Isabelle is not. Isabelle is fearless, brave, and strong-willed. She fences better than any boy, and takes her stallion over jumps that grown men fear to attempt. It doesn’t matter, though; these qualities are not valued in a girl. Others have determined what is beautiful, and Isabelle does not fit their definition. Isabelle must face down the demons that drove her cruel treatment of Ella, challenge her own fate and maybe even redefine the very notion of beauty . . . Cinderella is about a girl who was bullied; Stepsister is about the bully. We all root for the victims, we want to see them triumph. But what about the bullies? Is there hope for them? Can a mean girl change? Can she find her own happily ever after?

From the instant that I began this book, I was enchanted. Jennifer Donnelly’s writing style is exquisite and feels very poetic as she effortlessly switches between character focus. In Stepsister, we follow the story of Isabelle, one of Cinderella’s ugly sisters, towards the end of the fairy tale we all know and love. It’s about what happens when Cinderella finds her happily ever after.

Oddly enough, I really liked Isabelle as a character – even from the beginning! She came across as a victim in her own way, but underneath there’s a strong young woman. Throughout the book, we see her develop and discover herself, as well as see how, contrary to popular belief, beauty does not define a person.

I loved how this book was a little bit of a fantasy story whilst being very realistic, which makes it a perfect read for so many different types of reader. We meet a whole host of wonderful, and not so wonderful, characters who really come to life, and some remind me of my favourite fantasy leads whilst others could’ve been drawn straight from the history books. I highly, highly recommend Stepsister for anyone who’s after a book that will stay with you long after you’ve finished it and captivate you whilst you read it.


Thank you to Tina at Hot Key for sending me a copy of this book!

THE NEAR WITCH – V.E. Schwab

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RELEASED: 12/03/2019
PUBLISHER: Titan
GENRE: Fantasy, Fairy Tale

All-new deluxe edition of an out-of-print gem, containing in-universe short story “The Ash-Born Boy” and a never-before-seen introduction from V.E. Schwab. The Near Witch is only an old story told to frighten children. If the wind calls at night, you must not listen. The wind is lonely, and always looking for company. There are no strangers in the town of Near. These are the truths that Lexi has heard all her life. But when an actual stranger, a boy who seems to fade like smoke, appears outside her home on the moor at night, she knows that at least one of these sayings is no longer true. The next night, the children of Near start disappearing from their beds, and the mysterious boy falls under suspicion. As the hunt for the children intensifies, so does Lexi’s need to know about the witch that just might be more than a bedtime story, about the wind that seems to speak through the walls at night, and about the history of this nameless boy. Part fairy tale, part love story, Victoria Schwab’s debut novel is entirely original yet achingly familiar: a song you heard long ago, a whisper carried by the wind, and a dream you won’t soon forget.

Shamefully, I’ve never read a book by V.E. Schwab, despite being desperate to do so! So, upon seeing that I could rectify that situation, I was delighted to be sent a copy of a rerelease of her debut The Near Witch; it looked a lot less daunting than her other series’ and I’m sold on fairy tales involving witches!

The Near Witch reminded me of a lot of children’s classics from Diana Wynne Jones, Cliff McNish and Paul Stewart that I loved growing up, and so I found this to be an easy one to get hooked on. Despite being a fairly short book, the world has been crafted so it really comes to life in your mind and the characters are really interesting. The feeling of fear really came off the pages and kept me guessing throughout.

One thing that I loved about this book is that it was a perfect bridge between YA and adult fiction; it was so easy to get immersed in the world of Near and I found that as soon as the story got going it was impossible to put down! It’s been a while since I’ve found a book that I’ve just had to keep reading in one sitting, and, considering that it’s a debut novel, the writing style is flawless.

I can’t wait to finally get around to reading more of V.E. Schwab’s work after reading this wonderful book!


Thank you to Lydia at Titan Books for sending me a copy of this title.

LIFE IN A FISHBOWL – Len Vlahos

life in a fishbowl5/5

RELEASED: 12/01/2017
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury
GENRE: Young Adult, Teen, Contemporary

Jackie’s life wasn’t perfect, but at least it was normal. That is, until her dad received a terminal cancer diagnosis. Then he went and did what anyone faced with mountains of medical bills and a family to support would do: he sold his life to the highest bidder. Which turned out to be a TV station. Suddenly everyone from psychotic millionaires to cyber-savvy nuns wants a piece of Jackie’s family as they become a reality TV sensation. Jackie’s life spirals out of control just as her dad’s starts to run out, and meanwhile the whole world is tuning in to watch her family fall apart … Acidly funny and heartbreakingly sad, Life in a Fishbowl is an exploration of the value of life and what memories mean to us. Perfect for fans of Patrick Ness.

This book wasn’t at all what I was expecting when I picked it up; I had thought that I was about to read a typical YA book that would have me crying by the end. However, it had me crying from the start (with laughter) and I simply could not put it down! Len Vlahos’ writing style is so unique and engaging and gives this book such wonderful character, and he has the characters literally leaping off the page so you become totally absorbed in this real yet bizarre story.

At the beginning, you are introduced to the main characters of the story who Len will effortlessly switch between throughout the book, and this is where my love for the book began – literally with the first sentence! It gives you just the right amount of information about each character so that you know who’s who but aren’t drowned with a ridiculous cast of people, and it’s this cast that is central to the whole story. From the quirky nun Sister Benedict Joan (look out for her Ebay username!) to a bored psycho, these characters are so lively and have some bizarre yet believable stories that link them into Jackie’s heartbreaking tale.


Thank you to Bloomsbury for sending me a proof of this book!

UNCONVENTIONAL – Maggie Harcourt

unconventional4/5

RELEASED: 01/02/2017
PUBLISHER: Usborne
GENRE: Young Adult, Contemporary, Teen

Everyone’s a fan of someone…

Lexi Angelo has grown up helping her dad with his events business. She likes to stay behind the scenes, planning and organizing…until author Aidan Green – messy haired and annoyingly arrogant – arrives unannounced at the first event of the year.

Then Lexi’s life is thrown into disarray. In a flurry of late-night conversations, mixed messages and butterflies, Lexi discovers that some things can’t be planned. Things like falling in love.

Six conventions, a girl with a clipboard, a boy with two names – and one night that changes everything.

Unashamedly romantic, this is a clever and funny story of love in unlikely places form the author of Waterstones’ reader’s favourite, The Last Summer of Us.

You know that a book is something special when it opens up with the dilemma of having the wrong inflatable palm trees delivered! And from there it just got better.

Unconventional was such a unique novel in the way that it was literally all about books and loving books and authors, with bits that were funny, bits that made you cringe, romance, friendships, family and lots of meaningful quotes to take away (as my friend had to listen to on the phone as I read through all my favourites!). Honestly, I tabbed so many things in my copy!

It’s not an overly soppy love story, but it’s fluffy in the most perfect way which does make it stand out because it wasn’t overly heavy like many YA novels and I felt really contented whilst reading this. I was totally absorbed into the world of book conventions and Lexi’s life revolving around these conventions – I really want to go to one now! Despite being set over these six conventions, you really got to know Lexi and she was such a real and honest character that you can’t help but love her!

“Everyone’s a fan of somone…” – I’m definitely a fan of Unconventional.


Thank you to Stevie at Usborne for sending me a copy of this book!

HEARTSTOPPER: VOLUME 1 – Alice Oseman

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RELEASED: 07/02/2019
PUBLISHER: Hachette
GENRE: Graphic Novel, Young Adult, LGBT

Boy meets boy. Boys become friends. Boys fall in love. An LGBTQ+ graphic novel about life, love, and everything that happens in between – perfect for fans of The Art of Being Normal and Love, Simon.

Charlie and Nick are at the same school, but they’ve never met … until one day when they’re made to sit together. They quickly become friends, and soon Charlie is falling hard for Nick, even though he doesn’t think he has a chance.

But love works in surprising ways, and Nick is more interested in Charlie than either of them realised.

Heartstopper is about love, friendship, loyalty and mental illness. It encompasses all the small stories of Nick and Charlie’s lives that together make up something larger, which speaks to all of us.

Back in the day, I was a massive fan of All Time Low (think I Was Born For This level of fandom) and would spend hours and hours reading slash fiction relating to the band; there was nothing else out there like it! So, something like Heartstopper, which focuses on male friendships, relationships and everything in between, would’ve been as popular then as it is today within the slash fiction community and I would’ve adored it. That said, as a young adult who doesn’t read a lot of LGBT books, I still loved reading Heartstopper!

Rightly so, this comic has been getting a LOT of love on social media, and so I was intrigued to see what the hype was all about. I was desperate to get my hands on a copy, and so after FINALLY getting to read it, I don’t know how I’m going to wait so long for volume two! I think what I loved was the whole innocence and angst that comes across from the characters. Charlie and Nick are so adorable, and it’s really interesting to see how their personas can hide a whole host of feelings and emotions and seeing their friendship blossom. Alice’s illustrations, whilst simple, make for a really enjoyable read as you really get sucked into the story and they surprisingly do bring them to life!

If I had to find one flaw with Heartstopper: Volume 1, it’s that it’s too short; I flew through this volume and have been left wanting more!

THE YEAR AFTER YOU – Nina de Pass

the year after you5/5

PUBLICATION DATE: 14/2/2019
PUBLISHER: Ink Road Books
GENRE: Young Adult

“If guilt could kill, I’d already be dead, like I’m supposed to be …” New Year’s Eve, San Francisco. The most promising party of the year ends in tragedy. Cara survives. Her best friend Georgina doesn’t. Nine months later, Cara is consumed by guilt and grief. Her mum decides a Swiss boarding school will be the fresh start Cara needs. But Cara knows that swapping sunshine for snow won’t make a blind bit of difference. Georgina is gone, and nothing will bring her back. Up in the Alps, Cara’s old life feels a million miles away. At Hope Hall, nobody knows her past and she intends to keep it that way. But classmates Ren and Hector have other ideas. Cara keeps her distance, but she’s drawn to the offbeat, straight-talking Hector, who understands her grief better than anyone. Her new friends are breaking down the walls she has so carefully built up. And, despite it all, Cara wants them to. The closer Cara grows to Hector, the more Georgina slips away. Embracing life at Hope Hall means letting go of the past; of her memories of that fatal New Year’s Eve. But Cara is quite sure she doesn’t deserve a second chance.

My two favourite types of book are boarding school stories and young adult contemporary (especially mental health) and I’d come to accept that the likelihood of reading a book that ticks both of these boxes is very slim. Then along comes an offer to be part of a blog tour for a book from Ink Road…THAT TICKS BOTH OF THESE BOXES. Of course I had to say yes yes yes!

The Year After You is a book that as soon as I picked it up I couldn’t put it down; every time life got in the way I’d be anxiously waiting to get back to reading! In it, the characters are all so varied – they come from a variety of backgrounds and all have stories to share. I like how diverse the story was without it being thrown in your face; it was like life, just part and parcel of having a group of teens at school together.

Nina’s writing style was brilliant and she crafted a story that, although it covers some pretty difficult topics, ultimately was enjoyable and easy to engage with. Cara was a brilliant main character who was flawed but also vulnerable. It was refreshing to see a character who you’d think had it all but actually shows that situations can have an impact on anyone. I think the way that grief and guilt are tackled throughout the book makes this essential reading for young people too.

I’d highly recommend The Year After You, especially for fans of authors such as Sara Barnard, Gayle Forman and Phyllida Shrimpton, as well as people who may have grown up loving school stories and are looking for something a little more modern to love.


Thank you to Sarah at Ink Road for sending me a copy of The Year After You and for involving me in the blog tour!

THE VALENTINES: HAPPY GIRL LUCKY – Holly Smale

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RELEASED: 07/02/2019
PUBLISHER: HarperCollins
GENRE: Teen, Young Adult, Contemporary

Introducing The Valentines. Fame – It Runs in the Family!

Sisters Hope, Faith and Mercy have everything: fame, success, money and beauty. But what Hope wants most of all is love, and it doesn’t matter how far she has to go to find it.

Except real-life isn’t like the movies. Even if you’re a Valentine . . .

Happy Girl Lucky is the first hilarious, heart-warming book in The Valentines series. From the internationally bestselling author of Geek Girl, Holly Smale.

Growing up, my favourite books as a teenager were your typical teen books such as those from Cathy Hopkins and Jacqueline Wilson, so when Holly Smale burst onto the scene with the Geek Girl series I was delighted! Her writing was something new, combining the things that I love about young adult contemporary fiction with the best part of teen fiction thus making books that were perfect for both markets. The Valentines is no different; whilst it tackles genuine issues that affect teens, it’s not romanticised or overly fluffy yet it gives you all the feels and enjoyment that you’d get from a nice light teen read.

I was very quickly drawn into Hope’s world in Happy Girl Lucky and found her to be an adorable main character. She’s not perfect; she’s ditzy and has her head in the clouds, but that’s what makes her such an interesting narrator! The story moved at a good pace which is what kept me reading on and on, and it touches upon some heavier topics that many teenagers deal with relating to dysfunctional families and first love. That said, Hope’s love interest was…interesting!

Going into this book, I did expect to like it, but I didn’t expect it to necessarily be a five star read, but I was so pleasantly surprised and couldn’t put it down! It’s the perfect read for younger teens right the way through to adults, so I’d definitely recommend it.


Thank you to HarperCollins via NetGalley for the eBook of this title.