Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 – Reading Recommendations

File_001 (7)Since it’s Mental Health Awareness Week, I thought it would be appropriate to recommend a few books which I think address mental health very well. They’re not all books which are centered around mental health, and they don’t all focus on it greatly, but whether it’s an inspiring paragraph or the whole book, it’s here for a reason.

First, to represent agoraphobia and OCD, it has to be Under Rose-Tainted Skies (Louise Gornall). This book is beautiful, honest, moving and I felt like I related to it a lot more than some other books focusing on the same things. Norah is amazing, strong and very similar to me so that was an immediate click for me. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

Also representing OCD, it’s Am I Normal Yet? (Holly Bourne) which is a beautiful story following the life of Evie who suffers from strong OCD and shows her struggles and attempts to be ‘normal’. This so well portrays the mindset of someone who thinks they’re weird and wants to fit in, and I found it very easy to relate to. It’s honest and is one of my favourite reads because of this. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

I am fully aware that being transgender isn’t a mental disorder or illness, so please don’t shoot me, but I’m putting If I Was Your Girl (Meredith Russo) in here too. This is because the main character is struggling with her identity and through the bullying and misunderstandings, there are points where the narration displays some quite hurtful thoughts about herself. Because of the bullying in the story, she isn’t thinking right and could be experiencing some variation of depression or anxiety. It’s a very touching, very important story that everyone should read and I do think that it belongs here since it does portray some very negative, self-deprecating thoughts that wouldn’t be there otherwise (without the bullying/misunderstandings) as she’s been essentially taught to think this way. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

Representing eating disorders/a distorted body image is Only Ever Yours (Louise O’Neill) and it’s the first book I ever decided to review because of how good it is. I think it’s so realistic in a ‘this would never happen’ kind of way. I can see how the patriarchal control in the story replicates the same manipulation in the real world and it’s done so well that I think everyone should have to read this even if it’s just to inspire you to tell the world to f off. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

As representation for anxiety, I’ve put in the entire Girl Online series (Zoe Sugg) because I think (at least for me), it’s very accurate and portrays that inner monologue well. I enjoy the story as well as the issues inside it, as there’s no love triangle and the romantic interest isn’t magically a cure for her mental health problems. It’s realistic, and honestly shows the stages of a panic attack, thoughts caused by anxiety and the missed opportunities it can cause. Just because it’s ghost-written for a vlogger doesn’t make it bad. You can read my full review (including the blurb) of the first book here: Review

This last book is a slight stretch since it isn’t entirely focused on mental health, however I do think that it would help someone going through the same situation. It’s No Virgin (Anne Cassidy) which is about a rape. It’s not explicitly mentioned that the main character is experiencing any mental health issues, however I think that through the narrative, it could be assumed that she’s having a lot of negative thoughts, self-blame and guilt which could so easily become depression or anxiety (among other things). PTSD is a common problem which comes after rape, and it could be argued that that is present in this book. I think it depends how you interpret it and how hard-hitting the subject is for you, but I definitely think that this book should be on this list. You can read my full review (including the blurb) here: Review.

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Review: Girl Online On Tour (Zoe Sugg)

file_000-7Title: Girl Online

Author: Zoe Sugg

Publisher: Penguin

Release: Out now!

Genre: Contemporary

Which animal is similar to this book? I would say that this book is similar to a bloodhound, because I already reviewed the first in the series (and compared it to a panda, you can read the review here: Review: Girl Online (Zoe Sugg) and the second is quite different to the first. For starters, there are more emotions involved and I felt so sorry for Penny a lot more in this book and (to me, at least!) bloodhounds always look incredibly sad. They also have a lively and funny side though, and this book is very fast-paced and there’s some good witty humor in it!

The blurb says: Penny’s bags are packed. When Noah invites Penny on his European music tour, she can’t wait to spend time with her rock-god-tastic boyfriend. But, between Noah’s jam-packed schedule, less-than-welcoming bandmates and threatening messages from jealous fans, Penny wonders whether she’s really cut out for life on tour. She can’t help but miss her family, her best friend Elliot… and her blog, Girl Online. Can Penny learn to balance life and love on the road, or will she lose everything in pursuit of the perfect summer?

As I said, this book is much more emotional than the first because I found myself rooting for Penny to survive tour and I felt every struggle she had. Having anxiety myself, it’s easy to see why she would want to put herself in that situation to prove she could cope, but it was also easy to see every struggle she would have and how hard it would be to actually cope, especially with Noah busy a lot of the time. I love how the book addresses anxiety, and how it makes it so realistic and easy to understand; I think it’s a good way of getting it read about without being a sad book about just anxiety which some people are less likely to read. What I mean is, Zoe Sugg’s audience is much more likely to read a book like this with anxiety not quite the main/only focus instead of other, heavier books. I just think it’s a very good description of it without scaring people.

I’ve seen quite a few negative reviews of this, and the first one, purely because Zoe Sugg is a youtuber, so people believe it’s going to ‘boring’ and like ‘every other book by a youtuber’ but I genuinely believe that while Zoe had help, the ideas, the structure and the characters are from her. Penny is similar to Zoe and I think often people will write about a character similar to them, especially when addressing disorders and experience the author suffers with too. I also think it’s written in a witty and often funny way, apart from the sections dealing with the anxiety and other difficult topics; those are dealt wi20160804_163746th appropriately without being too heavy on the reader.

I really enjoy this series and with the release of Girl Online Going Solo tomorrow, I thought now was a good time to post this review! Obviously I’ve pre-ordered the third in the series and I will likely review that too! I give this 9 out of 10 paw prints!

September Favourites (2016)

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This month, I started my second year of college but also spent a lot of time doing thin
gs I enjoy! One of them is listening to music and there have been a few albums that I’ve been listening to quite obsessively…The best and most listened to album is definitely Death Of A Bachelor by Panic! At The Disco because it’s just a beautiful album. I saw them live in May and it was amazing and honestly the best experience, and it gave me a much better appreciation for the songs and the way they’re put together. It’s just beautiful, buy it or illegally download it; Brendon Urie doesn’t care…

I also went to see Suicide Squad and having not been a comic fan, I wasn’t angry at it like everyone else seems to be, and I didn’t have any expectations so in my eyes, it’s my new favourite film. Harley Quinn is insane and I love her (everyone does though!) but I also really like Deadshot because of his back story and the way he handles it. I liked Suicide Squad so much that I bought a Harley Quinn Pop Vinyl figure and I have a couple posters from the film. What can I say; I’m a quick fan girl!

My favourite book of September was easily Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall because it was a beautiful but honest explanation of OCD/anxiety/agoraphobia and lots of it was helpful, if not comforting, for me. You can read my full review of it here: Review: Undsnapchat-5330640036923931416er Rose-Tainted Skies (Louise Gornall).

September and October are my favourite months in terms of weather because they’re usually not too hot or too cold, and September is the official start of autumn so I am very happy to embrace that as soon as I have the chance. So when the seasonal drinks appear in Costa/Starbucks, I am right there, ready to drink the heck out of them! I’m not a coffe-drinker usually (I drink some at home, but not quite brave enough to buy one!), but I do love a good hot chocolate, so the gingerbread hot chocolates are my slight obsession, thank you very much Costa!

Since the end of July, I haven’t worn make-up and have been trying to take better care of my skin, but I do like to try cheaper versions of branded products, because they often are at least just as good. I’ve been using Superdrug’s Vitamin E Micellar Cleanser and it’s so good. It feels so gentle (my skin is very sensitive!) and it smells nice but not too chemically-manufactured, and it has made my skin much softer and happier.20160922_172324

I’ve also been loving Zoella’s Soak Opera bath soak/shower cream because it smells amazing and feels so soft on my skin, I just love it, okay? On the theme of youtubers, Joe Sugg’s Username series is very popular with me at the moment! I love the story and artwork, they’re just great! I was so excited when Username: Regenerated arrived and I spent the night reading it of course (it’s amazing, a review will be coming in October some time! In the meantime, you can read my review of the first in the series, Username: Evie here: Review: Username: Evie (Joe Sugg)

So that’s it for this month! Hope you have a fantastic October filled with tricks and treats and pumpkins and cuddly blankets and hot chocolates etc etc…

Review: Girl Online (Zoe Sugg)

20160823_160005Title: Girl Online

Author: Zoe Sugg

Publisher: Penguin

Release: Out Now!

Genre: Contemporary

Which animal is similar to this book? I believe this book resembles a panda for the reason that they’re cute and playful but also endangered. This book is very fun and amusing at times, but also has quite serious aspects, such as the topic of the main character’s anxiety and issues in social situations. Pandas seem like very low-stress animals since they’re very funny in their behaviours, but also have that serious side of being highly endangered.

The blurb says: Penny has a secret. Under the alias Girl Online, Penny blogs her hidden feelings about friendship, boys, her crazy family and the panic attacks that have begun to take over her life. When things go from bad to worse, her family whisks her away to New York, where she meets Noah: a gorgeous, guitar-strumming American. Suddenly Penny is falling in love – and capturing every moment of it on her blog. But Noah has a secret too. One that threatens to ruin Penny’s cover – and her closest friendship – forever.

This novel is funny as well as interesting and the voice of Penny leaves the reader feeling connected to her. As someone who also suffers with anxiety, and as someone who has watched all of Zoe’s videos on anxiety, it was nice to read about someone who has it to the same level I do and who has found ways to cope with it. It was also nice for the character to be so in control of it that she could do what she wanted to most of the time, and to not let it control her life.

The social structure of the story is realistic and the way it all plays out, although un20160804_163746likely to happen to anyone in my life ever, it does read as plausible and realistic too. It’s easy to read and keeps the reader hooked, making it impossible to put down.

I loved this story, the characters and the voice the characters were given, so I would give this 9 pawprints out of 10!