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 »

Night Swimming – book review

NightSwimming StephBoweImagine being the only two seventeen-year-olds in a small town. That’s life for Kirby Arrow—named after the most dissenting judge in Australia’s history—and her best friend Clancy Lee, would-be musical star.

Clancy wants nothing more than to leave town and head for the big smoke, but Kirby is worried: her family has a history of leaving. She hasn’t heard from her father since he left when she was a baby. Shouldn’t she stay to help her mother with the goat’s-milk soap-making business, look after her grandfather who suffers from dementia, be an apprentice carpenter to old Mr Pool? And how could she leave her pet goat, Stanley, her dog Maude, and her cat Marianne?

But two things happen that change everything for Kirby. She finds an article in the newspaper about her father, and Iris arrives in town. Iris is beautiful, wears crazy clothes, plays the mandolin, and seems perfect, really, thinks Kirby. Clancy has his heart set on winning over Iris. Trouble is Kirby is also falling in love with Iris…

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Bookish Subscription Boxes

Bookish subscription boxes are something I’m obsessed with. I love watching all the unboxing videos on YouTube, getting excited about the theme of the box for the month, and lament over the fact that I will never be able to choose with bookish subscription box I want to sell my soul to because there are just so many fantastic ones. But even though I think bookish subscription boxes are glorious and simply the best thing that’s happened to book nerds since Book Depository, it wasn’t until recently that I’d actually received a box.

I’m not kidding – it was the highlight of my week.

But there are a few reasons why I haven’t signed up for a regular bookish subscription box, and it sometimes makes it a little hard.

  1. Having subscription boxes shipped to Australia is EXPENSIVE. I absolutely adore OwlCrate and FairyLoot, but the shipping ends up being around the same cost as the box itself, which is heartbreaking.
  2. What if I get a book I already have? I receive a lot of books for reviewing, some of them before they’ve been released, so it’s hard to commit to a bookish subscription box when I’m not 100% what the Book of the Month will be.
  3. Things getting lost in the post. Australia’s postal service is notorious for being terrible and losing things, so it would be devastating to have such an important parcel go missing.

However, Be Bookish! was kind enough to send me one of their boxes to review! I’m super impressed by the gorgeous selection of goodies and the book was one that I’ve been eyeing for ages but hadn’t got around to purchasing!

So let’s unbox this thing together!

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Japan, Romance, and the “Exotic Backdrop”

The idea of reading YA novels set in countries different from the usual American setting, which is part of the reason why I was so excited to get a copy of Seven Days of You — a contemporary love story set in Tokyo. I’ve always wanted to go to Japan and I’ve spent some time learning a little Japanese, so the prospect of reading about characters immersed in this beautifully cultural country was very exciting. But what I quickly discovered was that the setting played little part in the narrative. This book could have honestly been set in America, or Australia, and you wouldn’t have been able to tell the difference. The whole culture of Japan was overlooked and basically whitewashed, focussing on a white romance with the country being the “exotic” background to their love story.

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Magical-Realism in YA

I didn’t realise I’d been missing a whole genre in my life until I finally decided to pick up my first magical-realism novel, Bone Gap, and was swept away by the beauty of the world Laura Ruby had created and the way magical elements were seamlessly worked into the narrative to create a truly mesmerising read. It was only after reading this gorgeous book that I realised I’d read hardly any books with magical-realism in them. As a lover of contemporaries and someone who does like fantasy – but is rather picky about what fantasy novels I’ll read because high fantasy confuses the heck out of me – I found that magical-realism was the perfect solution. You’ll definitely be seeing me reading more magical-realism in future!

(For those of you that aren’t completely sure what magical-realism is, it’s basically the term used to refer to fiction where magic or the supernatural is presented in an otherwise real-world or mundane setting.)

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All This Could End – book review

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What’s the craziest thing your mum has asked you to do? 

Nina doesn’t have a conventional family. Her family robs banks—even she and her twelve-year-old brother Tom are in on the act now. Sophia, Nina’s mother, keeps chasing the thrill: ‘Anyway, their money’s insured!’ she says. 

After yet another move and another new school, Nina is fed up and wants things to change. This time she’s made a friend she’s determined to keep: Spencer loves weird words and will talk to her about almost anything. His mother has just left home with a man who looks like a body-builder vampire, and his father and sister have stopped talking. 

Spencer and Nina both need each other as their families fall apart, but Nina is on the run and doesn’t know if she will ever see Spencer again. Steph Bowe, author of Girl Saves Boy, once again explores the hearts and minds of teenagers in a novel full of drama, laughter and characters with strange and wonderful ways.
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Gilded Cage – book review

gilded-cage

Our world belongs to the Equals — aristocrats with magical gifts — and all commoners must serve them for ten years. But behind the gates of England’s grandest estate lies a power that could break the world.

A girl thirsts for love and knowledge.

Abi is a servant to England’s most powerful family, but her spirit is free. So when she falls for one of the noble-born sons, Abi faces a terrible choice. Uncovering the family’s secrets might win her liberty, but will her heart pay the price?

A boy dreams of revolution.

Abi’s brother, Luke, is enslaved in a brutal factory town. Far from his family and cruelly oppressed, he makes friends whose ideals could cost him everything. Now Luke has discovered there may be a power even greater than magic: revolution.

And an aristocrat will remake the world with his dark gifts.

He is a shadow in the glittering world of the Equals, with mysterious powers no one else understands. But will he liberate—or destroy?

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Labyrinth Lost – book review

labyrinth-lost

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Beautiful Creatures meets Daughter of Smoke and Bone with an infusion of Latin American tradition in this highly original fantasy adventure.Read More »

A Shadow’s Breath – book review

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Then, things were looking up for Tessa. Her mum was finally getting her life back on track. Tessa had started seeing Nick. She was making new friends. She’d even begun to paint again.

Now, Tessa and Nick are trapped in the car after a corner taken too fast. Injured, stranded in the wilderness, at the mercy of the elements, the question becomes one of survival.

But Tessa isn’t sure she wants to be found. Not after what she saw. Not after what she remembered.

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Violent Ends – book review

violent-ends-book

It took only twenty-two minutes for Kirby Matheson to exit his car, march onto school grounds, enter the gymnasium, and open fire, killing six and injuring five others. 

But this isn’t a story about the shooting itself. This isn’t about recounting that one unforgettable day.

This is about Kirby and how one boy—who had friends, enjoyed reading, played saxophone in the band, and had never been in trouble before—became a monster capable of entering his school with a loaded gun and firing on his classmates.

Each chapter is told from a different victim’s viewpoint, giving insight into who Kirby was and who he’d become. Some are sweet, some are dark; some are seemingly unrelated, about fights or first kisses or late-night parties. 

This is a book of perspectives—with one character and one event drawing them all together—from the minds of some of YA’s most recognizable names.Read More »