My September 2019 Book Haul!

Hello, hello, hello

After YALC back in July you might have thought my book buying/acquisition might have slowed down, you would be wrong. With the combination of my birthday and new releases I picked up a LOT of books in September and I wanted to share them with you all. Get ready it’s going to be a long one.

First up are books I won in a Twitter giveaway that arrived at the beginning on the month. The lovely Sara Barnard gave away all of the books she has written, they’re all signed an dedicated too which is super sweet. So I now have Goodbye Perfect, Fierce Fragile Hearts, Beautiful Broken Things and A Quiet Kind of Thunder. These are all based around friendship which is super exciting and a few I’ve had on my list for a while.

I was also sent Sara’s collaborative book Floored along with other great YA authors. Next up are two buy one get one free buys, Heartstream a YA thriller that I bought alongside this months book club read Once Upon a River I’m not sure what to say about this one it’s kind of an adult mystery?

I also had my copy of The Only Plane In The Sky – The Oral History of 9/11 delivered, this book is full of accounts of 9/11 and I think it’s an important and interesting way to preserve what happened and the changes that the event caused.

I received 4 books for my birthday. The first up A Large Expanse of Sea from my parents which I’ve been meaning to pick up forever. I also received 2 books from my friend Charissa (along with a doughnut because, goals) The Confessions of Frannie Langton an adult mystery and Two Can Keep A Secret which I needed to read after McManus’s debut. I also received Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, I’ve heard great things about this online so I’m excited!

Ok, I’ll fess up I made two drunken purchases – I actually snuck off from a night out to buy books (maximum nerd points), which were It Never Rains and Life of the Party I just picked these up after reading the blurb, I have no idea if they’re going to be good but I’m hoping so.

My preorder of The Deathless Girls, a novel I’ve been keeping an eye out for about the brides of Dracula, perfect for Autumn. My next few books are from a trip to Foyles with my birthday money, because what else was I going to spend it on? I knew nothing about The Liar’s Daughter it’s about the aftermath of a young woman who grew up in a cult. I find these super interesting.

Can we take a second to appreciate the stunning cover of Ziggy, Stardust & Me a LGBTQ YA novel set in the 70s. I also finally picked up With The Fire On High which I’ve heard nothing but good things about. Also, Monday’s Not Coming is another I’ve heard a lot of good things about on BookTube. I was also given a copy of Archie 1941 for my birthday and I love it – I can’t wait to see others in this series.

P.S, I Love you is one of my favourite books so of course I ordered the sequel Postscript and I am so excited to see what Holly is up to now. I also love the film but for very different reasons. I also received a Waterstones gift card and picked up the graphic novel of Speak which has stunning artwork, even though I haven’t read the original book. I also bought City of Ghosts by Victoria Schwab because she’s amazing.

And now I need to find a home for all of them, the floorboards definitely hate me right now!

Have you read any of these? What would you recommend? Let me know below.

Feeling Politically Homeless

You *might* have noticed that the UK is going through it with politics at the moment. Now, it’s been over 3 years since it was voted that we would leave the European Union. Personally, it’s not something I voted for but I had to accept that it was going to happen.

In those 3 years we’ve seen, to put it bluntly, a shit show. 3 Prime Ministers, a load of resignations, a rise in hate crime and a wave of anxiety about the future of the country that I’m in. Brexit has caused a horrible divide or maybe it just highlighted it.

What it has left in its wake is a load of people who feel politically homeless. In the repeated calls for a general election I genuinely didn’t know who I would vote for. I look at the political parties of the UK right now and not one of them makes me have hope. That’s a pretty scary thought.

In the past I have voted Labour, I felt that they were the major party I could support. Now, I don’t know – while Jeremy Corbyn when he became party leader seemed different and I was hopeful I’m done. I don’t know him personally but politically I’m not impressed and he needs to go.

Looking into alternatives none of them quite sit right with me either. While Green has views similar to mine I don’t know if they could run the country and I don’t trust the Liberal Democrats after they helped triple tuition fees.

What I do know is that this country needs change. It needs leadership that is invested in LISTENING, not just shouting and trying to be the loudest voice. Boris Johnson doesn’t seem to understand this concept.

I truly hope in my lifetime we will see a revolution and a return to working together rather than tearing each other apart. Right now, as I watch parliament debate and try to score cheap points at each other with jibes and cheers I am frustrated. We need to fix this country before it breaks to a point where we cannot repair it.

I guess I’m writing with an open heart here. Is this the most eloquent post

My YALC 2019 Haul Part 2

My YALC 2019 Haul Part 2

Yesterday I shared with you the first part of my YALC Haul and some of the 25 (!!) books that came back home with me. Are you ready for part 2? I definitely am!

The blurb of All The Invisible Things says that this is great for ‘fans of Laura Steven and Holly Bourne’ with strong feminist feels. Yes please!

Towards the end of the day I also picked up an exclusive copy of This Time Will Be Different by Misa Sugiura. I’ve heard a lot about this on Booktube from those across the pond – it focuses on family and finding something to fight for.

I also found a poetry book at YALC! I hope there will be more to come in the future. I picked up There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé by Morgan Parker which I’ve seen around for a while. I’m interested to see what it’s about.

Another popular Booktube novel I’ve seen constantly in the past few months is Frankly in Love by David Yoon, I picked this up free when I bought another book on the Penguin stand. My copy also has a YALC exclusive cover, yay! It’s all about love, family and tradition. I can’t wait to read this one.

Who else read Sarah Dessen as a teen? I certainly did. So I picked up her latest novel with her new publisher. The Rest Of The Story is about Emma connecting and learning about her mother’s family, who she hasn’t spent much time with since she died. This is going to hit me in the feels isn’t it?

I hadn’t heard of A Good Hiding before YALC it features a teenage pregnancy, a friendship and I *think* it has some LGBT rep too, I’ll keep you posted.

So, Olivia Twist, a gender swap Oliver Twist – do I need to say any more? GENDER SWAP OLIVER TWIST. I hope we get a male Nancy equivalent.

Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan has been on my radar for a while. There’s feminism, friendship and teenage activism. That’s all I know but that is all I need to know.

I was a big fan of Meredith Russo’s first novel and she’s back with another one that looks to be incredible. This follows two friends throughout their lives and had LGBTQ rep! Yessss! I’m excited.

Lily’s Just Fine is another book that I didn’t know about but I found it on a stall for the steal price of £4 and got it signed by the author. This is a contemporary romance with ‘Scotland’s most determined teenager’. Sounded like a bit of light fun to read so of course I picked it up.

And again, I hadn’t heard of Battle Ground BUT it’s set in a post Brexit dystopian world and I got chatting to the author who also signed it for me. I’m curious to see what literature comes out of Brexit and this is the first YA book about it I’ve come across.

Romanov is a reimagining of Anastasia with magic, that’s all I know but I loved the film Anastasia as a kid so why not pick this one up?

And last but not least I picked up Misfit by Charli Howard, I picked this up so that I could get my free copy of Frankly in Love and it was the first YALC purchase I read! It was an ok read for me, it’s Charli’s memoir of her life as a model and dealing with eating disorders. It was a 3 star read for me.

Now, how about a BONUS! I know this was meant to be about the books but I did pick up these from Fable and Black and look how cute these are! Look!

Are you looking to pick up any of these books? Were you at YALC? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: That’s Not What Happened – Kody Keplinger

It’s been three years since the Virgil County High School shooting. Three years since my best friend, Sarah, was killed in a bathroom stall. Everyone knows Sarah’s story. 

But it’s not true.”

Faced with the 3rd anniversary of the shooting, Lee is starting to feel suffocated by the pressure of truth. With the lies of the circumstances of Sarah’s death getting bigger and bigger Lee knows it’s time to tell the truth, even if it could ruin absolutely everything. As a way of dealing with the tragedy before leaving for college, Lee encourages all of the survivors to write their own letters and the consequences aren’t what she expects…

I’ve never read a novel by Kody Keplinger before but I was intrigued by this one. It has an interesting concept and I really enjoyed that it was a mix of traditional prose and letters. The fact that Kepplinger made each letter really fit with an individual character showed a real talent.

Of course, this isn’t an easy book to read. It does go into quite a lot of detail in regards to a school shooting, dealing with PTSD after the event and the effects that something like this would have on the entire town. I’d definitely keep that in mind before picking up the novel as it’s not going to be a cheerful one.

I was also surprised a few times within the book, while I thought I knew what was going to happen there were revelations. Each of the characters were fleshed out to have their own lives, their own hopes and fears and while we see these through Lee’s eyes it made the novel stand out to me.

There are parallels, I’ve been told, with the story of a young woman who was killed in the Columbine shooting in 1999. Some people have seen this as a reason to slate the novel, however, I don’t think that’s a terrible thing. She has simply taken a similar story and built her own around it. Bare in mind that this is targeted at young adults, I myself was 4 years old when Columbine happened – I knew nothing about it. So it may not be as obvious to younger readers.

I gave this novel 4.5 stars, I was really impressed by the amount of depth that each of the characters had and their own accounts of the story. I definitely want to read more of Keplinger’s books and would recommend this as a thoughtful read.

My Mental Health – MHW2019

Seeing as it’s Mental Health Week, it only seems right that I talk about myself. For those of you who have read my blog for a long time, you’ll know it’s something I’m pretty open about but that took a while, for the first few months after my depression diagnosis I couldn’t even say the word.

So, what’s my diagnosis?

I have been officially diagnosed with Anxiety with Depression, why is it put that way I have no idea.

How long have I been diagnosed?

I was diagnosed at 19, shortly before I went to study at university.

How does it impact me day to day?

Sometimes it doesn’t impact me at all, those are good days. Other days I’ll feel exhausted, irritable, moody. I can struggle to have any motivation or really doubt myself and my abilities.

What’s my treatment plan?

Currently, I take Citalopram, an antidepressant and have done for the past few years. Also, because I realised I was struggling more than normal I am on a waiting list to have 1-1 therapy to talk things out and try and get myself back in a good place mentally.

How am I doing right now?

I’m doing okay. There are days I feel like I’ve got my shit together and I’m doing so well and other days I struggle to get up from my sofa or to reply to any messages. Every day is different. I know I haven’t had the easiest time with my mental health recently, despite life going well, because of that I’m eager to get some talking therapy and feel much better.

Thank you so much for reading! There are more posts for Mental Health Awareness Week coming up so make sure to check back in!

7 Tips For Going To Events Alone

It may surprise the people that know me, but going to social events gets me all kinds of wound up. In fact, before going out I’m usually a completely anxious mess. As times gone on I’ve gotten better at dealing with it – a far cry from my student days when I would get stupidly drunk before going out so I wasn’t as anxious. Would not recommend.

As a result of Ali’s job he often has to miss events – whether that’s a birthday night out, dinners or family gatherings in the past year and a half I’ve had to get used to going alone. As much as I am independent, it is nicer going to an event with someone you love rather than on your lonesome. It doesn’t mean I enjoy it, but I have my own ways of either hyping myself up or having plans for if I’m not feeling great.

It got me thinking, I’m sure I’m not the only one having to face going to events alone! Whether that be social or otherwise so why not put down what helps me?

Make sure you feel confident and comfortable in what you’re wearing

If I’m going to feel good mentally, I want to feel confident in the way I look. Making the effort to go outside? At nighttime no less? You bet I’m going to look good! I quite enjoy making a fuss of myself getting ready with some good music blasting, taking time to do my make up and generally feeling good about myself. It puts me in a much better mindset.

That said I’ll also think about what I’ll be comfortable in, if I’m going for a big dinner I’m not going to be wearing tight jeans or a fitted dress! Hello skater dresses

Don’t be afraid to let friends know you’re feeling it a little bit

When I went out for my birthday last year I was really apprehensive. To be honest, I really missed Ali, it was my second birthday apart from him and I didn’t know if I wanted to bother. A few friends of mine had to cancel and I just felt down.

I didn’t make a secret of this to my friends. I simply explained that I was missing him, but I wanted to spend time with them, just give me a minute to get in the groove! And it worked!

Give yourself some ‘me time’ before or after

I’m an introvert and navigating parties and such alone can be exhausting! Because of this I try to make sure that I have some time to myself either before (a relaxing shower and pamper session) or the next day I might curl up with a good book and my own company!

Find something you’re looking forward to in each event

It could be that the place you’re going to eat does really good dessert. You might be seeing friends you haven’t spent time with in a while, there will be something in each event for you to look forward to! Focus on those rather than the things you’re feeling anxious about!

If you don’t want to drink, then don’t!

If you’re going out normally people are having a drink or two but sometimes you might not feel like it. And that’s ok!!! I’ve had to learn that just because other people are drinking, it doesn’t mean that I have to!

In the past I’ve drunk far too much when I’ve felt sad or lonely and you know what? It just made me feel worse, not better! Now I can be pretty comfortable to just not drink and mocktails are much cheaper!

Appreciate the time you’re spending with friends or family

I absolutely love my friends and family, when I go out I try to take pictures and remember every detail for later when I can excitedly share my day with Ali.

Going to these things alone can make me feel a little lonely but I’m not going to let that ruin the time I have with other people in my life! They know I appreciate them and their time!

Have an ‘escape plan’

I wondered whether to put this one in, but I want to be honest. There are times when I am struggling and the only way I can persuade myself to go out is knowing that if it gets too much I can leave or step out for a minute.

This might be as simple as popping to the toilet for 10 minutes if I feel anxious or driving myself to the event so I don’t have to rely on anyone else for a lift. It’s giving myself that feeling of having control over my anxiety rather than the other way around.

Is there anything else you’d add? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: The Boy Who Followed His Father To Auschwitz – Jeremy Dromfield

In the Nazi rule of 1930s Vienna, Gustav Kleinmann and his family were impacted like many Jewish families. Trapped in a nightmare that they didn’t know was only just beginning. Soon after Gustav and his teenage son Fritz are rounded up and sent to a Concentration Camp, where Fritz will do the unthinkable. 

Well, this was an emotional read. Reading a book about the Holocaust is tough, but needed. Last year I picked up The Tattooist of Auschwitz and this year I once again found a read that I almost couldn’t believe. It is a story of the bonds of family and the strength of the humans in the worst circumstances. 

This was an interesting mix of storytelling and a journalistic viewpoint. Dromfield has tried to include the climate of the world as well as in Germany. When reading I felt sick that so much of the world, the UK included, shut their doors to refugees. It’s something we’ve seen since. I truly think that is one of the reasons these books are so important – so we can recognise history repeating itself. 

What I also found incredibly interesting within the book is Fritz’s feelings of wanting change, even if it means risking his life. These are two men that tried their hardest not to give up, although in different ways. While they were father and son, seeing their different approaches to survival gave more of an insight into who they were and why they needed each other. 

This was a 4 star read for me. I feel like saying I enjoyed this was wrong. You can’t enjoy a book about the Holocaust but there was a heart to it. The fact that you could feel the family bond and fight for survival the whole way through. You are rooting for this father and son, for the entire family. I can see this becoming a very well known and read book. 

Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for a copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review.