Book Review: The Year I Didn’t Eat – Samuel Pollen

14-year-old Max has a fight on his hands. Living with Anorexia is tough enough without having to be at school and trying to keep it secret from your closest friends. As Max writes to ‘Ana’ and tries to navigate his illness he has to deal with the new girl at school who won’t stop staring, family drama and seeing his therapist. Can he beat this?

I was asked if I would like to receive a copy of this novel and I was immediately intrigued. There are very few stories of teenage boys going through an eating disorder, so of course, I wanted to read, I’m incredibly glad I did.

Starting and ending on Christmas day, the novel chronicles a year in Max’s life, alongside writing a diary to his disorder – aptly named Ana. This was a particular highlight for me, the writing was emotional but not sad – I actually laughed a fair bit reading this. Pollen isn’t trying to make Max a sympathy figure. The combination of the diary entries and showing some of the obsessive thoughts was incredibly well done –  I could see similarities between Max’s and my own thoughts from our respective mental illnesses.

It is mentioned a few times within the novel the disconnect that Max feels from what is stereotypically viewed as what a with Anorexia looks like – a teenage girl. By confronting this head-on, Pollen shows insight into something incredibly important – anyone can get a mental illness. The fact that Max is a teenage boy, known for being quite geeky with a loving family and great friends and still has these problems reinforces that.

This shows a new level of representation that is rarely seen, in fact, I don’t believe I have ever read a novel featuring a guy with an eating disorder – which is absurd! I’m hopeful that this will start more conversations. The fact that Pollen has drawn on his own experiences makes this even more realistic.

The novel shows not only the impact that eating disorders have on the person with the illness but also the pressure it can put on families. We meet Max’s family and often feel for them as much as him. That said, despite the hardships faced, Max’s relationship with his older brother Robin was probably my favourite part. They truly seem to care for each other and Robin’s encouragement of Geocaching really seems to be a turning point.

Of course, this is a tough read and it does give descriptions of disordered eating and calories – if these are tough for you to read it might be worth picking this up at a later point.

Is it any surprise that I gave this 5 stars?  This is a novel that needed to be written. Showing that eating disorders can affect anyone and that, by talking about it, we have more of a chance of helping those going through it. I absolutely adored this novel – it will truly make its mark. I truly feel that this will make people feel less alone.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Conker communications for the chance to read this in exchange for an open and honest review.

2019 Book Releases

5 2019 Book Releases I Can’t Wait To Read

A New Year means a whole load of new releases to come. Yep, that is something I get super excited about it so I thought why not share it with all of you? Without further ado here are the 5 2019  Book Releases I Can’t Wait To Read. 

The Curses - Laure Eve

The Curses – Laure Eve 

I absolutely loved The Graces and couldn’t WAIT to read the second in the series. This was meant to come out last year but got pushed to this year. I can’t wait to find out what happens next after the first books ending. 

Two Can Keep A Secret – Karen M. McManus 

In 2017 I read McManus’s One Of Us Is Lying and devoured it in one day. So, when I heard about another novel from her, of course, I wanted it! Secrets, lies and death, what more could you want? 

Internment – Samira Ahmed 

My first read of 2018 was Samira Ahmed’s debut novel Love, Hate and Other Filters and I absolutely LOVED it. Internment considers an America where Muslims are put into internment camps. Not only am I excited to read this, I can’t wait for it to do some good in the world. 

The Hormone Diaries – Hannah Witton 

I think Hannah Witton is a brilliant Youtuber. I’ve been watching her for a few years now and was really interested in her Hormone Diary videos. These were Hannah’s experiences on coming off the pill and her experiences of contraception, all the videos are here.

Her first book was absolutely fantastic and I’ve already pre-ordered this one. I cannot wait! 

A Court Of Thorns and Roses #4 – Sarah J Maas

While I’m writing this there is no title, no cover, no synopsis, just the fact that this is the next book in one of my favourite series. Really, there isn’t much I can say but I’m still super excited. If you haven’t read A Court of Thorns and Roses you can check out my first review

I’m fully aware that all of these are YA, but, they are what I’m most looking forward to. I’d love to hear some recommendations below from all of you. What are you looking forward to? 

Book Review: A Court of Mist and Fury – Sarah J Maas

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“To the stars who listen—and the dreams that are answered.”

Note: This will include spoilers of the first novel in the series, A Court of Thorns and Roses, you can read my review here. If you haven’t read the first in the series and then pop back!

When we left Feyre at the end of A Court of Thorns and Roses, she had defeated Amarantha, endured torture, died and been brought back to life as High Fae with a human heart. She left with Tamlin for their life together in the Spring Court. Ah, the happy ending. Or is it? Feyre’s promise to Rhysand hasn’t been forgotten and it might just come back to haunt her.

Wow, wow, wow. I thought I loved ACOTAR but then Mist and Fury came along. This was an incredible novel and I couldn’t put it down. This was so rich in character development and didn’t go at all where I thought it would. The whole novel is full of incredible twists and turns. I was actually reading along with a friend and we were constantly messaging each other when one or the other caught up.

This goes further than the typical ‘they all lived happily ever after’. Don’t forget Feyre had to kill to free the Fae people and that would scar anyone. Combine that with trying to cope with her new life, her ties to Rhysand and her new role within the Spring Court and it’s so interesting to see her process that.

I gave this 5 stars and jump to future me, it’s my favourite in the entire series. It’s got so much detail, world building and I’m struggling to put into words how much I love it without any spoilers. Sarah J Mass is an incredible writer and captures your imagination in such a brilliant way.

Have you read any of the ACOTAR series? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below!

Book Review: The Exact Opposite of Okay

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Izzy is many things, an Orphan, an aspiring comic and slut extraordinaire, that’s what it says online at least. But can you believe everything you read?

Wow, wow, wow. This is currently a contender for my book of the year and I’ve already been nagging my friends to read it. I initially liked the look of this novel from the blurb and super eye-catching cover. That said, I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. This is a fantastic look at societies views of girls who like sex.

After Izzy enjoys herself at a party she doesn’t think much of it. That is until posts about her being a slut are posted online, then pictures of her having sex, then some of her naked…and then a national scandal involving the son of a senator erupts. Which, as you can imagine isn’t as easy to ignore.

I LOVED our protagonist, Izzy. She was funny and sarcastic but also you could tell she had a good heart. A really good heart. The novel is written in Izzy’s voice and was like you were reading a friend’s blog rather than a fictional character. I felt that there was a great deal of balance between the face that Izzy shows to the world and her own feelings. She just felt real.

There is so much covered by this novel, slut shaming, the double standards between guys and girls as well as what it’s like to grow up with little money. In short, this is a novel that needed to be written. This is something that happens to a lot of girls and through the lens of a small town. You can feel the disgust that Izzy feels as she can see even the adult males mentally undressing her after seeing the images. You feel anger as she is treated terribly by those in authority even though she is a victim.

I gave this 5 stars and have been recommending it to absolutely everyone. We need more novels like this. Izzy isn’t defined as a victim here. She’s upset and angry but she’s still herself. She still has dreams and hopes for the future, she still loves her family (huge shout out to Izzy’s gran who is amazing) and thinks about others. I highly recommend this and can’t wait to see what Laura Steven does next.

Book Review: Zenn Diagram – Wendy Brant

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If one touch could tell you everything about a person, the good and the bad, what would you do?

As a high school math genius, Eva is used to not being the most popular, but this suits her just fine. While the rest of the school thinks she’s simply a germophobe, Eva is protecting herself from their deepest secrets, their joys and fears, all from a single touch. It isn’t until Eva meets Zac that her gift haunts her more than ever.

It’s been a long time since I picked up a YA novel that I knew was going to involve a love plot. I requested this via Netgalley and was approved by the publishers to give a fair and honest review. I won’t lie, I wasn’t expecting to love this novel as much as I did. If you’re looking for a novel with love and a twist then you’re in the right place.

I connected with the character of Eva almost immediately, while I initially was thrown by her gift and what it meant for the novel. I’ll admit that it did take a while for me to get used to it, but the choice of gift itself was well put together. The fact that Eva has her own life and struggles made her more relatable. While I was initially sceptical about the introduction of Zenn and what this would mean for Eva’s smart and focused character, it actually added a great deal to her and the plot itself.

I think one of the best parts about the novel, however, is that it also have strong comedic value. Eva is not only funny, she is also fiercely intelligent, something that we definitely need more of. As the novel went on I liked both her, and the character of Zen more. I didn’t roll my eyes, nor did I get frustrated because she felt real to me. This was a character that I could see myself in, someone who struggles with what it means to be a ‘good girl’ but also know sadness.

I gave this novel 4 stars. It’s definitely an uplifting book and while it does tackle some issues, there is enough appropriate humour and intelligence to make it an uplifting read. Brant has a true talent for writing fantastic novels with relatable and intelligent protagonists. I would highly recommend this novel to all who need something a little different in the YA market.

Book Review: The Girl in the Picture – Alexandra Monir

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‘Nicole Morgan has been labeled many things — the geeky music girl, the shy sidekick to Miss Popularity, and the girl with the scar. Now only one name haunts her through the halls of Oyster Bay Prep. The Girl in the Picture. After high school heartthrob Chace Porter is found dead in the woods near the school, the police are in search of the girl whose picture with Chace is the only clue found amongst his personal belongings. A girl who no one knew was even close to Chace–and whose dormmate, Lana Rivera, was Chace’s girlfriend. Nicole is that girl and now she’s the primary suspect in his murder. But what really happened that night? Were Nicole and Chace dating behind Lana’s back; were he and Lana over? Could either of them have killed him? Told in alternating points of view, that of our suspect, Nicole Morgan, and her former best friend and roommate, Lana Rivera, readers will piece together the story of a starcrossed love, a fractured friendship–and what really happened the night Chace was killed.’ 

I requested this novel a little while ago and said that in return I would give an honest review about what I thought of the novel. I love a good thriller and this seemed to pull me in, the murder of a loved boy, best friends at war, the mention of a scar, what’s not to love? Set in an exclusive boarding school for the rich and talented the crime rocks them to their core, but would either girl have it in her to murder someone?

I’m sad to admit that this novel was not as I expected, instead of a fast paced thriller with various twists and turns that left me in shock I was left with an ‘okay’ novel which used a lot of YA cliches as well as some quite see through plotlines, which was disappointing. At first, I thought I’d really like Nicole in particular, she seemed smart and approachable as a character, but as the novel wore on I felt increasingly frustrated with her and her plot, it just didn’t seem like she carried on as the same character throughout. This was similar with Lana, however, she appeared to be a stereotype rich bitch girl from the beginning, without a lot of depth or vulnerability to her, which was disappointing.

The plot itself could have worked really well but I just felt that it had so many holes in it. If I’m honest I think it would have worked much better as a longer novel, at many times the plot felt too rushed, like it was crammed into the space of a young adult novel and some things which seemed important were almost completely ignored. There’s not a doubt that Monir has good ideas, but I definitely think this would have worked better as a longer novel, simply because there were so many points where I wanted to know more and wanted to explore the characters, their motives and their backgrounds.

I gave this novel 2 stars. I was really excited to read this but unfortunately, it just didn’t show me anything new in the genre. I worked out quite early on what was happening and there were some things within it that just didn’t make sense or just seemed to fall into place too easily in the story. I definitely think that there was potential here but unfortunately, it was too much like other thrillers that I’ve read and didn’t give me anything new to take away from it.

Sad times!

 

Book Review: When We Collided – Emery Lord

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“My dark days made me strong. Or maybe I already was strong, and they made me prove it.”

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.

Well, what can I say about this novel? While initially, I wondered if this was going to be another novel about teenagers falling in love and everything is magical and great forever. I can’t read books like that anymore because there are so many. This was a refreshing read focusing on real issues and how we cope with them and showing teenagers as people.

I got this with my Illumicrate back in May and have only got around to reading it now. I am kicking myself for not reading it sooner! Emery Lord is a fantastic writer and can write thoughtful, funny and beautiful words that will suck you in. I could not put this book down, I was constantly thinking about Vivi and Jonah, their lives, their futures. Also, it’s rare that I love an ending as much as I did this one. It was absolutely perfect and just created a sense of peace for me at the end.

While the blurb hints at mental illness, it doesn’t show the extent of how the novel manages it. Both Vivi and Jonah are so real and incredible because they have flaws, they make mistakes and, for me, you can see yourself in their decisions and mistakes. The novel has so many elements to it family, friends, reflection and how people live through challenges in mental health. Jonah’s grief is explored, as are issues in Vivi’s past.

With all that said the novel is uplifting, I loved every single page. Vivi is a breath of fresh air and Jonah took my heart from the very first page. I’d love to go into the list of reasons why but I don’t want to spoil anything because it really is a treat.

Of course, I gave this novel five stars, for a while I thought it may be four but the ending bumped it up. I loved the pace, characters and plot it was absolutely incredible and I can’t wait to get myself reading anything else that Emery writes because she is truly talented.