STARFISH Giveaway!

Hello my lovely friends, family, followers and everything in between ~

I am doing a book giveaway over on my twitter account! The book I chose for this giveaway is STARFISH by Akemi Dawn Bowman! I read and reviewed this book last month (thanks, NetGalley!) and absolutely loved it! I want every person possible to love this book too so here’s your chance!

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So just head over to my Twitter, follow me and retweet my original tweet (maybe leave a mention and say hi?!) and you will be entered! For an extra entry, just follow my blog if you do not already! When you follow my blog, just leave me a comment saying you found me through the Starfish giveaway ❤

There are so many new YA book releases I am looking forward to this fall, and Starfish is one of them! What book are you most excited for this fall?

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Review: What Does Consent Really Mean?

 

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Title: What Does Consent Really Mean?

Author: Pete Wallis and Thalia Wallis

Illustrator: Joseph Wilkins

Publication Date: November 21, 2017

My Rating: 3/5

As soon as I saw the title of this book I immediately knew I wanted to review it. We all know the importance of teaching our children and youth the importance of 1.) understanding what consent means, 2.) Learning “no” means “no” and 3.) knowing the importance of consent. What better way to illustrate this to our children and youth then with a graphic novel of our own youth discussing among themselves?

The whole graphic novel consists of a group of high schoolers discussing consent, what it means, and how you know if you received consent.  The graphic novel begins with a new girl in the local high school who, as rumor has it, transferred schools because she was a sexual assault victim. This sparks conversations among the characters about sexual assault and consent.

The conversations begin with the characters feeling somewhat confused and bewildered about what consent means. However, throughout the story, this group of friends bounce their ideas off each other about consent, which leads the characters to having a good understanding about consent by the end of the story.

I was impressed by the topic of the book, but I was not impressed by the content or the dialogue. I feel as if the writers could have done a better job with the dialogue, because it did not seem like a real conversation teenagers would have; you could tell that this graphic novel was written by adults. There is a lot that needs discussed to our children and youth about consent, so I would argue there is more content that could have been added to this graphic novel to really get the importance of consent to the readers. I do not think this graphic novel did as good of a job as it could have. Though this graphic novel is a great starting force for getting the discussion of consent out there (we have to start somewhere!), there were ways to enhance the content of the graphic novel and making the dialogue more realistic.

I would also like to note that this is not a graphic novel meant for younger children, because of some of the explicit sexual content, the graphic novel is directed towards students who are in high school. But by this point, high school kids should already know what consent is. I think this graphic novel would have had more of an effect if it was written with less explicit content and directed more towards those children in middle school.

All in all, the graphic novel had an excellent topic that is well need in the literature world, but it was not perfect and could have used some improvements.

I would like to express my appreciation towards the authors of this graphic novel for recognizing the important of sharing what consent means. I would also like to thank the publishing company Jessica Kingsley Publishers and Singing Dragon for allowing me to review this book. This publishing company works towards publishing works with themes like autism, education, mental health, spiritual development, and wellbeing. I plan to read more books from this publishing company in the near future!

Starfish Review

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Thank you to NetGalley and Simon and Schuster for giving me the opportunity to review this book in exchange for an honest review.

Title: Starfish

Author: Akemi Dawn Bowman

Publication Date: September 26, 2017

Bio: Kiko Himura has always had a hard time saying exactly what she’s thinking. With a mother who makes her feel unremarkable and a half-Japanese heritage she doesn’t quite understand, Kiko prefers to keep her head down, certain that once she makes it into her dream art school, Prism, her real life will begin.

But then Kiko doesn’t get into Prism, at the same time her abusive uncle moves back in with her family. So when she receives an invitation from her childhood friend to leave her small town and tour art schools on the west coast, Kiko jumps at the opportunity in spite of the anxieties and fears that attempt to hold her back. And now that she is finally free to be her own person outside the constricting walls of her home life, Kiko learns life-changing truths about herself, her past, and how to be brave.

From debut author Akemi Dawn Bowman comes a luminous, heartbreaking story of identity, family, and the beauty that emerges when we embrace our true selves.

My Thoughts: If you were to ask me what piqued my interest about Starfish, my answer would be both the social anxiety representation and the Japanese representation. I have never read a book that had a Japanese character, so better late than never to get a jump start on this type of specific diverse read! If you know me well, you know I love reading books with a mental health theme, so it is no surprise that the social anxiety rep in this book caught my eye. Kudos to the author, Akemi Dawn Bowman, because she created and wrote both themes very well! (Well, the social anxiety at least- I can’t personally speak for the Japanese rep, but to the best of my knowledge she wrote it well.) It is always reassuring when you just know that the author has the understanding and knowledge of what she is writing about; it was evident throughout the book that the author knows first handedly or has done her research about what it is like to be biracial or suffer from social anxiety. Thank you, Akemi!
I felt a lot of STRONG emotions toward three of the main characters: Kiko, her mom, and Jamie.
Kiko’s mom… aka, the worst mom I have ever encountered in a YA book. There is not one single good quality about her: she is a narcissistic, narrow minded, and unfeeling character. Some of the things she did to Kiko and her brothers rose my blood pressure while getting my blood boiling. When you feel such strong emotions toward a character, you know the author is doing his/her job successfully. Few characters have angered me like she did, which I believe was the purpose of the character,
Kiko is just a beautiful little soul who I just wanna hug and reassure her how worthy and lovable she is. Her dedication towards her art left me inspired for the creative work I do (writing, blogging, drawing, etc.) Meaning, I wanna be as talented and cool as Kiko. I relate on a personal level to the social anxiety she experiences, so this left me feeling empathetic toward her struggles with her mental illness. The fact that she finds her happy ending in the epilogue of the book will leave me satisfied for the rest of my life… that may sound dramatic, but oh my god it is so true.
Jamie…oh, my heart. It has been a while since I had a book character crush, because lately the male characters in my book just have been annoying and incorrigible. However, if I had to pick a boy for my friend Kiko to love, it would be Jamie. He is gentle, dorky, goofy, handsome, and compassionate. He was always helpful and understanding of her anxiety. I appreciated how the author depicted Jamie as a perfect guy for Kiko to date, but gave Kiko the awareness that she can not solely rely on Jamie to make her happy.  I want a real-life Jamie, please.

The plot itself was fairly fast-paced and kept me eagerly flipping each page, which is not a commonality in my reading. I grew connected with the characters and storyline enough that I never wanted to put the book down. The author had several plot twists that kept me reading past my bedtime. (Again- not a commonality in my reading!) The last few chapters in the book left me on the edge of my seat because so much stuff happened!
This will be one of those books I will recommend to each and every reader out there, especially if they are interested in books centering around mental illness because this book depicts mental illness with a more positive outcome. Kiko works towards overcoming social anxiety and fully understands that the capability to “conquer” her fears is within herself. Even though Jamie is absolutely wonderful and helps Kiko, Kiko is aware that it is still within herself to successfully overcome the hurdles she faces. I personally believe this is something each and every person should understand.
The author does a beautiful job with the story telling and character building in this novel and I look forward to reading more of her work! If you are looking for a riveting, fast-paced, and diverse read, this is the book for you.

 

4 Bookish Facts About Me

What better way is there to get to know a book lover than having them share bookish facts about themselves?

1. My favorite genres are YA contemporary and fantasy

I have always preferred and adored young adult books, and it is rare that you can find me reading a new adult or adult book; something about young adult just excites me (maybe because I am a young adult!)

My two favorites genres of young adult are contemporary and fantasy. I love both tremendously, but typically I tend to be drawn more towards contemporary YA because I tend to prefer quick and easy reads, which is what I receive with contemporary books. I always SPEED through contemporary books!

I do love a good fantasy book, too-It just normally takes me a little longer to really be grabbed by a fantasy book as compared to a contemporary book.

And sometimes fantasy books intimidate me, (sorry not sorry.)

2. The book that really made me fall in love with reading

I mean, I have always really loved reading- but I permanently fell in love  with this hobby, lifestyle- whatever you wanna call it- my sophomore year of high school with Before I Fall.

Before this book, I had a little “break” from reading, and Before I Fall got me out of that dreadful break and reminded me how great reading truly is. I had a lot of issues with anxiety at that time in my life, (fun fact- I still struggle with the anxiety) but this was when I learned how helpful reading could be so helpful for me.

3. Favorite Book(s)

It is very difficult for me to pick *one* favorite book, but I have been able to narrow it down to two books.

Eleanor & Park: It was the first book I read by Rainbow Rowell, so I did not know what to expect but of course I fell in love with Rainbow Rowell’s writing and story-telling abilities. I loved the total 80’s vibe: reading comics on the bus and listening to a Walkman. It was total pop culture, which I am an absolute freak about.

For some reason, I am a sucker for stories about characters who do not have a favorable home life (probably because I love to torture myself with tears.) The whole book I was hooked on Eleanor and her story as well as what was going to become of her. (This book also somewhat gave me a Don’t You Dare Read This, Mrs, Dunphrey vibe– if you haven’t read, I totally recommend!)

Eleanor & Park’s relationship was sweet, romantic, and I love how they shared music and comics with each other– that alone reminds me of my own relationship.

Basically, the story itself, the writing and the characters were so beautiful it scotched it’s way up to my top two favorite books. (For now at least- ugh, so many great books out there.)

It’s Kind of a Funny Story: If you do not already know this about me, I suffer from anxiety and depression. This leads me to being very critical about myself- not just academic wise but with literally everything. In this novel, you see a lot of this in Craig who is putting a whole load of pressure on himself to do well– wait, not just “well”, EXCEEDINGLY well– in school. This gets the best of him and leads him to being in a mental hospital.

The story goes through with Craig being in the psychiatric hospital after calling 1-800-SUICIDE to report himself for suicidal ideation (which is so super admirable that it makes me love and appreciate Craig even more.) You meet the other characters who are also in the hospital; they make you laugh, they make you cry. You fall in love with them. You feel Craig’s emotions as he ventures through this difficult part of his life.

I loved Ned Vizzini’s writing; he told the story like he actually knew what Craig was going through. I did not realize it at the time I was reading the book, but later after finishing I learned that Ned committed suicide seven years after the publication of this book–I cried, it is absolutely heartbreaking, but it brings a new light to this book.

4. Favorite childhood books

Most of my favorite childhood books are ones that my parents would read to me when I was young:

1. The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams

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2. Love You Forever by Robert Munsch

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3. Wacky Wednesday by Dr Seuss (as Theo LeSieg)

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YA Books With Mental Illness Representation

I read half of Thirteen Reasons Why during my Christmas break of 2015. I enjoyed it, but truthfully it just was not the right time for me to be reading that book; nothing against the author or storyline itself, I just was not intrigued so I DNFed it.

Then, the show came out. I decided to watch because maybe the TV show would encourage me to read the book. The story line was interesting, the acting was well done, but it was just depressing.  As someone who suffers from mental illness myself, it was difficult to literally watch a TV character also struggle with their mental health but, in the end, end up committing suicide. It was triggering to watch someone who had similar battles as me feel as if the only solution was to end her own life.

It was debilitating. It made me feel hopeless.

I appreciated the intent of the tv show to raise awareness of suicide and to encourage young adults that their words and actions can leave a lasting impact. I appreciate that the show did perform very well and a lot of people did receive the message they were suppose to. I understand that not everyone felt as hurt from the TV show as I did (which makes me glad.) However, it made me realize how important it is for, not only YA books, but any book centered around mental health to have the character receive the help they need, whether it be talking therapy, medication use, confiding in a friend, etc. Personally, if I read about a character who learns how beneficial talking therapy could be, I may be more included to actually pick up my phone and dial a therapist to schedule an appointment.

There are a million other things I could talk about in relation to Thirteen Reasons Why, but that is not the point of this post. I will save it for another blog post, should I decide to write it.

Anyway, enough of that mini rant. Here are some mental health books that will leave you feeling hopeful rather than depressed:

When We Collided by Emery Lord

When We Collided

We are seventeen and shattered and still dancing. We have messy, throbbing hearts, and we are stronger than anyone could ever know…

Jonah never thought a girl like Vivi would come along.
Vivi didn’t know Jonah would light up her world.
Neither of them expected a summer like this…a summer that would rewrite their futures.
In an unflinching story about new love, old wounds, and forces beyond our control, two teens find that when you collide with the right person at just the right time, it will change you forever.

Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin

Symptoms of Being Human

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.
On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia

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Her story is a phenomenon. Her life is a disaster.
In the real world, Eliza Mirk is shy, weird, and friendless. Online, she’s LadyConstellation, the anonymous creator of the wildly popular webcomic Monstrous Sea. Eliza can’t imagine enjoying the real world as much as she loves the online one, and she has no desire to try.
Then Wallace Warland, Monstrous Sea’s biggest fanfiction writer, transfers to her school. Wallace thinks Eliza is just another fan, and as he draws her out of her shell, she begins to wonder if a life offline might be worthwhile.
But when Eliza’s secret is accidentally shared with the world, everything she’s built—her story, her relationship with Wallace, and even her sanity—begins to fall apart.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

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At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.
But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.
Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?

Goodbye Days by Jeff Zentner

Goodbye Days

What if you could spend one last day with someone you lost?
One day Carver Briggs had it all—three best friends, a supportive family, and a reputation as a talented writer at his high school, Nashville Academy for the Arts.
The next day he lost it all when he sent a simple text to his friend Mars, right before Mars, Eli, and Blake were killed in a car crash.
Now Carver can’t stop blaming himself for the accident, and he’s not the only one. Eli’s twin sister is trying to freeze him out of school with her death-ray stare. And Mars’s father, a powerful judge, is pressuring the district attorney to open a criminal investigation into Carver’s actions.
Luckily, Carver has some unexpected allies: Eli’s girlfriend, the only person to stand by him at school; Dr. Mendez, his new therapist; and Blake’s grandmother, who asks Carver to spend a Goodbye Day with her to share their memories and say a proper goodbye to his friend.
Soon the other families are asking for a Goodbye Day with Carver, but he’s unsure of their motives. Will they all be able to make peace with their losses, or will these Goodbye Days bring Carver one step closer to a complete breakdown or—even worse—prison?

Girl Against the Universe by Paula Stokes

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From the author of The Art of Lainey and Liars, Inc. comes a fresh, contemporary story about a girl coping with PTSD and the boy who wants to help her move on from the past.
Sixteen-year-old Maguire knows the universe is against her. No matter how many charms she buys off the internet or good luck rituals she performs each morning, horrible things happen when she’s around. Like that time the roller coaster jumped off its tracks. Or the time the house next door caught on fire. Or the time her brother, father, and uncle were all killed in a car crash–and Maguire walked away with barely a scratch.
Despite what her therapist tells her, Maguire thinks it’s best to hide out in her room, far away from anyone she might accidentally hurt. But then she meets Jordy, an aspiring tennis star who wants to help her break her unlucky streak. Maguire knows that the best thing she can do for him is to stay away, but it turns out staying away might be harder than she thought.

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu

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When Bea meets Beck, she knows instantly that he’s her kind of crazy. Sweet, strong, kinda-messed-up Beck understands her like no one else can. He makes her feel almost normal. He makes her feel like she could fall in love again.
But despite her feelings for Beck, Bea can’t stop thinking about someone else: a guy who is gorgeous and magnetic… and has no idea Bea even exists. But Bea knows a lot about him. She spends a lot of time watching him. She has a journal full of notes. Some might even say she’s obsessed.
Bea tells herself she’s got it all under control. But this isn’t a choice, it’s a compulsion. The truth is, she’s breaking down…and she might end up breaking her own heart.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

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Ambitious New York City teenager Craig Gilner is determined to succeed at life – which means getting into the right high school to get into the right job. But once Craig aces his way into Manhattan’s Executive Pre-Professional High School, the pressure becomes unbearable. He stops eating and sleeping until, one night, he nearly kills himself.
Craig’s suicidal episode gets him checked into a mental hospital, where his new neighbors include a transsexual sex addict, a girl who has scarred her own face with scissors, and the self-elected President Armelio. There, Craig is finally able to confront the sources of his anxiety.
Ned Vizzini, who himself spent time in a psychiatric hospital, has created a remarkably moving tale about the sometimes unexpected road to happiness.

The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati

The Weight of Zero

Seventeen-year-old Cath knows Zero is coming for her. Zero, the devastating depression born of Catherine’s bipolar disease, has almost triumphed once, propelling Catherine to her first suicide attempt. With Zero only temporarily restrained by the latest med du jour, time is running out. In an old ballet shoebox, Catherine stockpiles meds, preparing to take her own life when Zero next arrives.
But Zero’s return is delayed. Unexpected relationships along with the care of a new psychiatrist start to alter Catherine’s perception of her diagnosis. But will this be enough? This is a story of loss and grief and hope and how the many shapes of love – maternal, romantic and platonic – impact a young woman’s struggle with mental illness.

History Is All You Left Me by Adam Silvera

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When Griffin’s first love and ex-boyfriend, Theo, dies in a drowning accident, his universe implodes. Even though Theo had moved to California for college and started seeing Jackson, Griffin never doubted Theo would come back to him when the time was right. But now, the future he’s been imagining for himself has gone far off course.
To make things worse, the only person who truly understands his heartache is Jackson. But no matter how much they open up to each other, Griffin’s downward spiral continues. He’s losing himself in his obsessive compulsions and destructive choices, and the secrets he’s been keeping are tearing him apart.
If Griffin is ever to rebuild his future, he must first confront his history, every last heartbreaking piece in the puzzle of his life.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

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What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death?
What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again.
Because sometimes there are problems bigger than this week’s end of the world, and sometimes you just have to find the extraordinary in your ordinary life.
Even if your best friend is worshipped by mountain lions.

Award-winning writer Patrick Ness’s bold and irreverent novel powerfully reminds us that there are many different types of remarkable.

Am I Normal Yet? (The Spinster Club #1) by Holly Bourne

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All Evie wants is to be normal. She’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the girl-who-went-crazy. She’s even going to parties and making friends. There’s only one thing left to tick off her list…
But relationships are messy – especially relationships with teenage guys. They can make any girl feel like they’re going mad. And if Evie can’t even tell her new friends Amber and Lottie the truth about herself, how will she cope when she falls in love?


*I feel it is important for me to note that not everyone reacts the same way to the same book.  What books I find hopeful may not be hopeful for others, just as books I find depressing may be hopeful for others. This is only my opinion.

**I have NOT read all of these books; I heard through twitter that some of these books have positive therapy and meds representation in the storyline. Also, because I have not read some of these books, I can not judge the quality of the content of each of these books.


If there are any other books you feel could be included on this list, let me know! Mental health books are my favorite themed books!