Poorly Written Mental Health Books

Four Weeks Five PeopleThey’re more than their problems.

Obsessive-compulsive teen Clarissa wants to get better, if only so her mother will stop asking her if she’s okay.

Andrew wants to overcome his eating disorder so he can get back to his band and their dreams of becoming famous.

Film aficionado Ben would rather live in the movies than in reality.

Gorgeous and overly confident Mason thinks everyone is an idiot.

And Stella just doesn’t want to be back for her second summer of wilderness therapy.

As the five teens get to know one another and work to overcome the various disorders that have affected their lives, they find themselves forming bonds they never thought they would, discovering new truths about themselves and actually looking forward to the future.

The amount of books I’ve read where teenagers living with mental illnesses go on “recovery camps” is ridiculous. Maybe it’s because I’ve never encountered anything like this in Australia (not to say they don’t exist; I just haven’t heard of them here), or maybe it’s because the idea of going on a camp that is portrayed to “cure” teenagers by the end of a few weeks is problematic, but these books generally don’t sit well with me. However, I was excited to give this one a go because I hoped that it would be different. Spoiler alert: It didn’t. I felt like this book took on more than it could chew, writing from the points of view of five teenagers all dealing with different mental illnesses, and perhaps I would have enjoyed it more if there was more of a plot. To me, this book felt like one that simply showed the lives of these teenagers throughout four weeks, and even that wasn’t done well as it felt like it didn’t have any real direction. There was just a lot wrong with this book.Read More »

DNF-ing Books // “She Says, She Says”

Hi friends! Today I have another very exciting instalment of She Says, She Says, where I’ll be chatting to Bec from Bec’s Books about DNF-ing books! It’s something that we’ve both done and we wanted to talk a bit about what makes us DNF a book and when we should and shouldn’t feel ashamed for doing so!

Warning: blogger confessions ahead.

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Hi Bec! Thanks so much for making the time to chat about DNF-ing books with me. First of all, tell everyone a little bit about yourself! Here’s the perfect opportunity for all that self promo!

Hi Sarah! Thank you for having me! I’ve just started up my blog (rebeccagough.wordpress.com) and I’m yet to feature a discussion post, so I’m really excited to be talking with you! Plus I’m mildly in denial that I DNF books so this’ll definitely help to reevaluate what I’ve definitely DNF’d hehe. Read More »

Feminism in Fiction

Looking back on many of the fairytales I’ve grown up reading and loving, I’ve realised that the majority of them are incredibly sexist. They seem to indicate that women are not in control of their lives or their fate and are in constant need of saving. With awareness for feminism being the most it has ever been, it’s a wonder anyone thinks that reading these archaic, misogynistic stories to children is acceptable. Not only does it teach our girls that they have to rely on a prince to save them and that they have no say in the matter, but it teaches everyone else that women are helpless victims who will never feel fulfilled in life without a husband.

Let me stop you right there, sexist society. We don’t need saving. We’re perfectly fine on our own, thank you very much. The last thing we want is you Facebook stalking us to come to our houses and shove a mangy old slipper on our foot that will effectively manacle us to you for all of eternity. We’re done having you save us — we’re not damsels in distress or plot devices that enable you to show off your masculinity… and your massive ego. Oh, and for the record, not all of us want to marry you — a cisgender straight male. There there, go cry yourself to sleep.

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The Dangers of Hype

To me, there’s three kinds of people who dislike hyped, so-called popular YA novels. The first of these is the reader that feels overwhelmed by the hype and has built up unrealistic expectations for how spectacular the novel is going to be. I’m sure you’ve been this person a few times, and haven’t enjoyed a novel purely because it wasn’t how you expected it to be and you were disappointed that it didn’t live up to the hype. Been there, done that. The second is the person that just genuinely doesn’t like the “popular” book. They read it, maybe even DNF it, purely because it wasn’t for them. They weren’t influenced in any way and they weren’t trying to make a statement. That’s when the third kind of reader comes in. The reader that dislikes the hyped book to make a statement. To be the only one-star review on Goodreads, who will write an absolutely scathing review of the novel to be “different”, even if it isn’t their entire honest opinion.

Am I one of those people? Have I become that person?

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Remind Me Why I Love Aussie YA

Maybe I’m biased, but I think that Aussie writers are some of the most talented, lovely people in the bookish community. We’re so lucky to have an abundance of wonderful, captivating stories being published in our country that are even going on to conquer the world. Just in the last year or so, we’ve seen so many Aussie authors having their books published in the U.S. for the first time, which is absolutely phenomenal, and it makes me so excited to know that so many other people are going to get to read the books that got me passionate about Aussie literature. Not only are Aussie novels unique in that they are often set in small Australian towns or Aussie cities, which always makes me feel at home, but they capture the way of life and the diversity of Australia in a way that no one else ever could. Every time I pick up an Aussie novels, it’s like coming home again after being overseas for a month. It’s comforting. I know the slang and the culture, and I’m ready to fall into this story. And let me tell you, there’s no other books I’d rather fall into.

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Trigger Warnings

Have you ever read a book that makes your heart clench? That makes you feel sick to your stomach? That makes you feel like you can’t breathe? Have you ever read a book that takes you back to a dark time in your life and plants a seed in your head that makes you think you won’t feel the same until you relapse?

I have.

For people that haven’t been marginalised because of their disability, sexuality, culture, or haven’t experienced mental illness, it’s easy to assume that we don’t need trigger warnings on what we read. There aren’t trigger warnings in real life, right? But that doesn’t mean you don’t have a responsibility to your readers, especially when so many of us are capable of being harmed by what we read.

We’re not “sensitive”.

What we read does affect us, and suggesting otherwise is not only condescending, but highlights your own privilege.

I’m not denying the fact that the best books are ones that leave us thinking. Some would even argue that controversial novels are necessary because they spark conversations about the things that we need to be talking about. But trigger warnings aren’t an attempt to take away that aspect of novels. Trigger warnings are needed because they have the capability to warn or protect potentially vulnerable readers. If you care more about protecting the “integrity” of a novel than the people that read it, then you should question your place in the reading community or the industry.Read More »

Why I Love Reading About Grandmas

There’s something so sweet about YA novels with a grandma that plays a major role in the narrative. Maybe it’s because it reminds me so much of my childhood — of warm hugs and scones fresh from the oven. Maybe it’s because I know that even though there might be tension between the characters or the grandma might not be the most likeable person at times, I know that there will always be a resolution of the conflict and I will always love the grandma in the end.

Aren’t grandmas just the cutest people in the whole world? While old people can be frustrating at times and we’ve all experienced moments when they hate us in retail or wherever we may be serving them, as soon as they start talking about their knitting or what they’re buying their grandson for their birthday, I’m wanting to be in their good books. Also, I love cookies. You know, just in case you might feel like baking me some one day.

But even though we all love reading about families and grandparents in books, even funny bickering grandparents, it’s rare that we get the opportunity to see them in YA fiction. If you think there’s a phenomenon of the missing parents, think about the grandparents. While I know that these relatives might not play a role as important to a mum or a dad, but I’d still love to see more of them in YA.

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That Time I Fell in Love with a Clock

Timekeeper bookIn an alternate Victorian world controlled by clock towers, a damaged clock can fracture time—and a destroyed one can stop it completely.

It’s a truth that seventeen-year-old clock mechanic Danny Hart knows all too well; his father has been trapped in a Stopped town east of London for three years. Though Danny is a prodigy who can repair not only clockwork, but the very fabric of time, his fixation with staging a rescue is quickly becoming a concern to his superiors.

And so they assign him to Enfield, a town where the tower seems to be forever plagued with problems. Danny’s new apprentice both annoys and intrigues him, and though the boy is eager to work, he maintains a secretive distance. Danny soon discovers why: he is the tower’s clock spirit, a mythical being that oversees Enfield’s time. Though the boys are drawn together by their loneliness, Danny knows falling in love with a clock spirit is forbidden, and means risking everything he’s fought to achieve.

But when a series of bombings at nearby towers threaten to Stop more cities, Danny must race to prevent Enfield from becoming the next target or he’ll not only lose his father, but the boy he loves, forever.

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One Reason Why I Picked Up CHARISMA

33280094Aislyn suffers from crippling shyness—that is, until she’s offered a dose of Charisma, an underground gene therapy drug guaranteed to make her shine. The effects are instant. She’s charming, vivacious, and popular. But strangely, so are some other kids she knows. The media goes into a frenzy when the disease turns contagious, and then deadly, and the doctor who gave it to them disappears. Aislyn must find a way to stop it, before it’s too late.

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Alex, ApproximatelyThe one guy Bailey Rydell can’t stand is actually the boy of her dreams—she just doesn’t know it yet.

Classic movie fan Bailey “Mink” Rydell has spent months crushing on a witty film geek she only knows online as Alex. Two coasts separate the teens until Bailey moves in with her dad, who lives in the same California surfing town as her online crush.

Faced with doubts (what if he’s a creep in real life—or worse?), Bailey doesn’t tell Alex she’s moved to his hometown. Or that she’s landed a job at the local tourist-trap museum. Or that she’s being heckled daily by the irritatingly hot museum security guard, Porter Roth—a.k.a. her new archnemesis. But life is whole lot messier than the movies, especially when Bailey discovers that tricky fine line between hate, love, and whatever it is she’s starting to feel for Porter.

And as the summer months go by, Bailey must choose whether to cling to a dreamy online fantasy in Alex or take a risk on an imperfect reality with Porter. The choice is both simpler and more complicated than she realizes, because Porter Roth is hiding a secret of his own: Porter is Alex… Approximately.

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