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? 

My Top 10 Highlights of 2018

My Top 10 Highlights of 2018

We made it to the end of 2018 – wooooooo! It’s been a weird year of up and downs, but I’ve learnt a lot from it. I wanted to share with you just 10 of my highlights from 2018, it was hard to whittle them down! If you’re looking for my bookish favourites of the year you can find those here.

paramore - couple - 10 years - relationship - growing up

Paramore

We kicked off the New Year with another trip to see Paramore, our 4th time together. As you can see Ali still doesn’t want to smile for pictures. Despite how it looks we had a great time!

Becoming A Published Poet

Finding out I was being published and then recieving the final product! I’m a published writer!!! I wonder what I can publish in 2019…

London Book Fair 2018

Visiting the London Book Fair

I was invited to attend the London Book Fair as a blogger with my Mum. It was something I wanted to do for a while and it was an interesting day, even if I did feel a little like a deer in headlights.

Hammies

One became…three. I said no more and then Ali and I went to Pets at Home and we saw our little guys BB & Artoo. I’m now a hamster Mum x3 and I absolutely love my little buddies. They really keep me company when Ali’s away.

YALC

I got to go to YALC! A whole day of being around book people, buying books and it was magical. I also got a pretty impressive book haul, which I’m still making my way through. Hopefully I can finish tme all before next year!

Going freelance & starting my business!

I’d been toying with the idea of going freelance for a few months but thought it was something I would never be able to do, until I had to! I’m now living life as a freelancer and absolutely LOVING it!

Six The Musical

Musicals!

I saw not one but two new musicals this year which I didn’t realise how much I missed! When I was younger I was a total musical nut, I even wanted to be a musical theatre actress when I grew up (more on that in another blog).

I loved Heathers enough to see it twice and I’d happily see Six again when it moves back to London. I’m looking forward to getting more shows in 2019!

10 year anniversary

We made it to 10 years! I’ve been lucky enough to spend the past decade with this wonderful human. He’s pretty great.

Disneyland!

I got to go to Disneyland!!! DISNEYLAND. I loved it so much I wrote not one but two blogs. You can read the first one here and the second here.

I Read 115 Books!

After setting my Goodreads goal at 50 so that I didn’t feel any pressure, I managed to double it and then added some! I read some really amazing books (and some not so amazing books).

There are more things and people that I haven’t had a chance to add but here’s to hoping I have an even better 2019!

Book Review: Sadie – Courtney Summers

When Sadie’s younger sister Mattie is found dead, her world is shattered. After spending the last 13 years raising her the only thing on her mind is revenge. She’s going to hunt down her sisters killer and he’s next. Told through the perspective of Sadie herself and a Podcast host trying to solve the mystery of Mattie’s death and Sadie’s own disappearance.

This is a novel that has taken the book world by storm I have seen it over countless blogs, Bookstagram, Booktube (yeah, I really like books). I finally found a copy in London and had to buy it to see what all the fuss was about. It’s been a really long time since I’ve read a good YA suspense novel so why not?

I really enjoyed the way in which the novel was set out, switching between Sadie herself and Podcaster Matt gave an extra something to it. I’ve also been told that Macmillen recorded an actual podcast to go along with the book. From the two perspectives, you get to learn a lot more about Sadie and her life without it being forced on you. I don’t know if this would work time and time again, however, in this instance it did.

It was a real page-turner, I couldn’t put it down. When I had that book in my hand I was racing through with questions. What happened to Mattie? Is Sadie going to find the killer? Does Sadie know what she’s getting herself into here? I needed to know what was happening and for the majority of the novel, I felt like this.

There were some points within the novel that I felt things were just a little too coincidental and some of the twists and turns were a little predictable. That said, I really do understand how it got the attention it did. This is a fast-paced novel that has an interesting way of telling a story. For that reason, I really do think it is worth a look if this sounds interesting to you.

I feel that this is a 3.5 star read. I really, really, wanted to love it as much as every else has but the end just ruined it for me. Without spoilers, I just felt like it could have ended better. I still had so many questions and felt a little irritated by it. I wish I could say more but I don’t want to spoil it for you!

The Miseducation of Cameron Post – Emily M. Danforth

After the sudden death of her parents Cameron Posts life is shaken to its very core. One thing she doesn’t expect to feel is relief, her parents will never find out that she kissed her best friend the very same night they died. Left with her elderly grandmother and religious aunt Cameron has to navigate her sexuality in secret in her small town.

This novel was promoted quite a lot at YALC in the summer, I didn’t know that it was about to become a film. So, of course, I put in a request on Netgalley to see what the fuss was all about. I’m glad that I did. It was an interesting read that I’m not sure I would have picked up otherwise.

There are some tough topics dealt with within the novel. Of course, there is the pressure of a small town in the mid-nineties that Cameron faces isn’t comfortable to read. More so, the fact that ‘conversion therapy’ plays a big part in the second half of the novel can be tough to get through. That said, while you would imagine this to be totally horrific Danforth managed to spread a message of hope throughout Cameron’s forced stay.

What I will say about this novel is that the number of girls that Cameron finds that are Lesbian or Bisexual seemed a little unrealistic to me. She seemed to get a fair amount of experience in what was meant to be a small, very religious town. It’s the only thing that didn’t quite sit right with me.

I gave this novel 4 stars, I think it took quite a while for the pace to pick up and feel a lot of people would possibly put it down. Don’t! There is a beauty and connection in the second half of the novel that truly makes it worth it. Would I recommend this read? Yes, I would. It’s definitely an intriguing novel – that said I won’t be watching the film.

Thank you to the author, publisher and Netgalley for this copy in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: This Is Where It Ends – Marieke Nijkamp

This is Where it Ends - Marieke Nijkamp

10:00 a.m. The principal of Opportunity High School finishes her speech, welcoming the entire student body to a new semester and encouraging them to excel and achieve.

10:02 a.m. The students get up to leave the auditorium for their next class.

10:03 a.m. The auditorium doors won’t open.

10:05 a.m. Someone starts shooting.

The novel centres around a school shooting, each perspective is that of someone who has been in contact with the shooter in some way or another – and they all have something to lose. A novel full of suspense, who will get out alive?

I’ve been waiting to read this novel since it was released and I finally picked it up at YALC in the summer. I’m fascinated by how an author gets into writing such a tough novel because, ultimately, there is a lot of risk of not getting it right. I believe that Nijkamp was very sensitive and has fleshed out the characters really well.

I was really pleased to see the LGBT representation in the novel, two of the characters are lesbians and dealing with their breakup as the shooting emerges. There is also a character with a disability, as well as multiple characters who are ethnic minorities – but this doesn’t feel forced at all.

I thought it was really interesting how the novel used social media within the situation. These are teenagers and what we have seen, particularly in response to Parkland, is how young people use social media. Of course, there would be tweets, people would be trying to reach people. This was a good addition on Nijkamp’s part.

The ending was terribly, terribly sad and just leaves the novel on a poignant note. The shooting is, unfortunately, just the start of many people’s nightmares. Some will have to face life without their family members, others will have to live with injuries similar to those in war zones.

I gave this novel 4 stars, this was incredibly well written and tackled an incredibly hard topic. In the current climate, more novels like this should be available to bring awareness to what can happen. If you liked Only Child, one of my top reads of the year, you will also find this to be an excellent novel.

Book Review Girl Made of Stars

Book Review: Girl Made of Stars – Ashley Herring Blake

Girl Made of Stars

When your friend accuses your twin brother of rape where do you turn? Your friend wouldn’t lie, but could the brother you love do this? Add in the complication of an ex-girlfriend and it’s enough to tear anyone apart. This is Mara’s reality.

This novel will break your heart, I need to warn you going into this. I read this while stuck in the hospital and I truly escaped into the novel and felt my heart break but was also blown away. This has so many levels, Mara’s relationship with her brother, with her parents and with her friends.

Ashley Herring Blake really captures the grey area of consent. In many cases of sexual assault, particularly when the accused and accuser know each other things get muddy. That said she has perfectly captured the complexity of the situation and at no point blames the victim.

In the era of #MeToo more stories like this are being heard and even though this novel is fictional it reinforces the message: you deserve to be heard. While this is from Mara’s perspective, this does not take away from the emotions of someone to have gone through such an event. It is superbly written

On another note, I love, love, love that there was a bisexual main character. There are very few I’ve seen that show interest in both sexes within the novel, that was a huge thing for me. This isn’t a huge plot point or a twist it just is what it is and I applaud that.

If you haven’t guessed already, I gave this novel 5 stars. It really is a brilliantly written novel which has heart as well as complexity. This is the kind of novel that should be taught in school, that will give young people something to relate to.

I’d love to hear your thoughts you’ve read this novel. Let me know in the comments below!