Hitting close to home


The Existence of Amy by Lana Grace Riva is the authors first delve into fiction works, after having written a non-fiction self-help book about mental health. She sticks with the MH topic in this book and it talks about depression, anxiety and OCD.

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There are all illnesses I struggle with myself. I’m lucky that through lots of working on myself and medication too, I’m on the milder end of these now. But I’ve been there. I will say that if you do suffer from these or would be triggered by them, then this likely isn’t the book for you. The illnesses are represented really well, but this also means that she goes into detail and that might not be helpful for some people.

With the actual book itself, nothing other than our MC Amy going to work, or not going, happens. It simply follows her. I think this was a brilliant decision as it lets the reader focus on what’s going on inside her head rather than stuff happening outside. By the end of this book, I actually felt connected to the characters and was wanting to find out more about them.

Full disclosure, I was sent this book by the author to review. But also full disclosure, sorry Ms Riva, I wasn’t expecting to love it. I thought it might get 3 stars, that it’d be fine and that’d be it. But I ended up really enjoying reading this book and honestly think it’s a good read. I’m glad I did pick this up in the end (she sent me it a while ago) and gave it a go!

What do you think of books which focus on mental health struggles?

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

This was personally a difficult book to read. It was short and easy to read on a technical level. However, the content was… tough. This book is essentially a memoir of one of the most difficult times in Matt’s life, a time when he struggled with a deep depression. I knew this going in, however, what I hadn’t been anticipating was the emotions that the book was going to dredge up within myself.

I have been struggling with depression for just over a decade now, and I have made massive strides in improving my mental health in recent years. Yet this book still managed to bring me back to that place. So separate from the content, I would like to recommend that you only read this if you don’t have this illness or if you believe yourself to be strong enough. I don’t regret reading the book, and I was able to get back to my normal self in a couple of days, however, I wouldn’t want to not warn you in advance if this is something that might impact you.

Content-wise this is a very interesting account of someone looking back on their past self and seeing what they previously couldn’t. That life gets better, and that he’s still alive. It also may help those who don’t suffer from depression to understand the illness more, however, I can’t vouch for that myself. Definitely a book to consider if you’re healthy enough.


September Wrap Up| 2018

I didn’t manage to read all of my September TBR (click here to see that) this month for various reasons. Two books I own physical copies of, and they weren’t coming to uni with me. I didn’t manage to get to them before I left as I was busy preparing so they are unread. There was also one eARC, which I simply didn’t have time for, and I also DNF’d one book. But I’ll talk about that a little further on, as well as having a separate review for it in more depth in the future.


Shattered by Teri Terry (Slated trilogy book #3) ***** 5 stars!!

I have greatly enjoyed every single book in this trilogy and it’s a crime that it took me so long to get to books 2 and 3! A really engrossing and well-written series that I also feel has managed to be unique in an oversaturated world of dystopian young adult literature.

aaruAaru by David Meredith (Aaru Cycle book #1) **** 4 stars

This book surprised me. I will admit that I was disappointed in the beginning, but as you can see by my star rating I ended up enjoying! Click here to see my review on Goodreads, or it’ll be up on my blog sometime soon!

Anna and the Swallow ManAnna and the Swallow Man by Gavriel Savit ***** 5 stars!!

A book which has been on my Goodreads TBR, but not my physical one, for a while. My lovely mother bought me it as a treat when we visited an independent bookshop and I read it soon after. I absolutely adore literature based in WWII and loved the observation of Anna growing as a woman in her time with the Swallow Man.

the psychopath test

The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson **** 4 stars

This wasn’t as enjoyable for me as his book “So You’ve Been Publically Shamed”, however, I still did read through this very quickly and enjoy it. A lot of interesting thoughts to consider about psychopaths, their role in society and more. A good pop-psych (although not great on an actual psychology level).

Of Blood Exhausted by Jemahl Evans (The Blandford Candy Series book #3) **** 4 stars

No image here as I was beta reading this book for Jemahl, another great addition to this historical fiction series set in the English Civil War (1600s) and I definitely recommend this series to anyone who enjoys the genre. As far as I can tell from a laywoman’s pov, (and he was also a teacher so this should add some weight), it is historically accurate from what we know of the time. As well as being humorous, realistic, and fully retaining your attention.

happier thinkingHappier Thinking by Lana Grace Riva *** 3 stars

I was sent this book to review by Lana, and I will hopefully be uploading a full review post of it soon. It’s definitely a positive review, however, I’m not 100% sure of what star rating I’m going to give it currently, so it’s subject to change. A good book that’ll make you aware of negative thoughts and provide possible ways to alter this.

mysteryofthreequartersThe Mystery of Three Quarters by Sophie Hannah (New Hercule Poirot Mysteries book #3) **** 4.5 stars

I got this book from NetGalley to review, and I adore Christie’s style of writing, so I was intrigued. I absolutely loved this rendition and 100% want to go back and read the previous 2 books released within this series by Sophie Hannah. The writing, I feel, is done incredibly well and I found it genuinely hard to put down! I love a good classic mystery!

timeschoolTime School by Nikki Young *** 3 stars

An 8-12 (middle grade for North American readers) book involving traveling back in time to a school during the WWI period. There was very little depth within the story, and I know that it’s aimed at a younger audience but this is still something that can, and in my opinion should, be included. Other than that, I enjoyed the plot and the emphasis of remembering those we lost during world wars (and other wars) and being thankful for their sacrifice. A good way to bring this story to life for younger children.


The End of Chiraq edited by Javon Johnson and Kevin Coval *** stars, DNF

I struggled with this book, and as I said at the start, this needs its own in-depth review. There were 2 reasons I DNF’d this book, one is that the style of the writing was not for me. The second was that I felt that the book wasn’t intended for me. I was not the audience that it was directed at, as a white British female, and although there are cases where this doesn’t matter I felt like this was very much not for me. I know more now about Chicago and the cultural and economic divide, but I also feel that this was written by the black people of the city for the black people of the city. I felt like I was intruding. Like I said, this needs its own review, and I need to find a way to express my feelings fully so that I don’t accidentally insult someone. But for now, this will suffice.

And that’s it folks! That’s all the books I read this month, and I really enjoyed loads of them! Fingers crossed next month can be as good in terms of star ratings and reading quantity!

Have you read any of these books? Are you going to? Let me know! I want to chat, recommend and gush!

Happier Thinking by Lana Grace Riva, a review

I was sent this tiny book for review by the author. When she sent her request to me I was intrigued, I suffer from mental health issues myself and wanted to see how she covered this topic and what advice she gave. I will say right now that all thoughts are my own, and if I felt that this book was not good I would most definitely tell you guys. I was incredibly pleased to read her say, right at the beginning of the book, that this is not intended to cure someone of depression etc. These are simply ways to recognise, re-evaluate and attempt to correct unnecessary negative thinking which is having an impact on how you live your life. Each chapter has a title that could be the advice in itself, but Lana expands on these basic concepts to give you examples of how to change your thinking and the reasons this could be beneficial.

So let’s get into the different bits of advice we’re given. The first chapter is titled Don’t write off the day. So often, when something negative happens at the beginning of the day, we’re quick to say that the whole day is wasted and nothing will go right. This type of thinking, Lana points out, will lead us to focus on the most negative parts of the day and almost block out those positive experiences. Therefore, leading us to believe that the day was indeed negative and us being unhappy as a result. If we can manage to separate the negative event from the day as a whole, and still look for positive experiences, then we are much more likely to find happiness within the days’ events.

Some other pieces of advice given can be summarised to Don’t compare your life to imagined others, journal good things, accept changed plans and many more besides. I won’t go into them all or you won’t go and read the book for yourself! Within all these different chapters, Lana describes negative thinking that you might be engaging in, how to recognise this within yourself and how to then go about attempting to change these thought patterns. These may seem like very simple, common sense ideas, but for those who struggle with negative thinking, it can be difficult to come to these conclusions without someone pointing them out and providing a way of thinking differently.

Lana emphasises at multiple points in the book that this is not a cure for depression, however, I believe that this can be a great accompaniment to other treatments. Simply taking anti-depressants will not cure ingrained negative thoughts, although they are incredibly helpful and in some cases life-saving. Changing the pattern of your thinking is what will, in the end, leave you feeling happier and able to live life to the full.

I look forward to applying the advice given in my daily life, as I am a negative thinker and feel like these steps could help me on the way to being a more positive person. I definitely recommend this little book, it doesn’t take long to read and could really help you start to take the steps to change how you think, for the better.

Fangirl, a review!

I’ve finally read Fangirl!!! This is the 4th book I got around to during the 7in7readathon and it took me a little bit to get into it, but once I did I absolutely flew through it! I’ve been allowing myself to read more contemporaries lately, I used to think that I didn’t like the genre, that it was too “girly” and I wanted to stay away. However, that’s obviously nonsense and finally, I’ve come around to actually reading these sorts of books and loving them!! So, onto the actual book!

Fangirl follows Cath, a twin, and her and her sister moving to college and slowly entering the adult world. Cath is very shy and nervous and hides away a lot, so I absolutely loved watching her grow and become her own person rather than Wren’s twin sister. There were lots of nerdy pop culture references within this book, not only within the Simon Snow sector (where Harry Potter is referenced a lot, obviously), but also silly references to Twilight and more, definitely fun little additions.

There are some pretty deep plot points within this novel, but I feel like they were handled very well with just the right degree of humour mixed in with the more serious notes. All in all, this was such an enjoyable book, I was sucked fully into the world and I definitely would be up for reading a sequel or a book from another character’s pov!

The little excerpts from Simon Snow and Cath’s fanfic Carry On started out ridiculously cheesy. To the point where I was going to just skip them for the rest of the book. But I’m really glad I didn’t. The cheese lessened as the book carried on and I actually ended up interested in what was going to happen in the story! Definitely wanting to pick up Carry On now and see what “Cath” does with it.

There are so many different aspects about this book, and I feel like I could go on about it for ages, and that would just get boring and spoilery. So overall, I definitely recommend this book. It was engrossing, deep, fun, and just a lovely book!

Forgiveness *is* Really Strange


This graphic novel is within the same series as “Anxiety is Really Strange”, which I have reviewed previously. Find my review of Anxiety is Really Strange here. One thing I like about both of these books is the art style present. This series doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do, in direct contrast to “Anxiety is Really Strange”, “Forgiveness is Really Strange” seems to have no scientific basis and is incredibly simplistic. This doesn’t work so much for the first half of the book but becomes much better within the second half. Within the first half, forgiveness is explained. This includes explaining pros and cons of forgiving someone who wronged you, and the different effects this can have on the body physically as well as much more. After this, there are real-life examples of people who have suffered great losses or tragedies and have forgiven those who have harmed them for various different reasons. These vary from forgiving for their own mental health to wanting to help those who hurt them as they recognise that there are deeper reasons for their actions. Although I feel this graphic novel could benefit from a little more scientific evidence to back up the points made, it is a nice, simplistic piece which is accessible to everyone and the addition of real-life stories makes the points hit home even more. Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an eCopy of this book in return for an unbiased review.


Anxiety is Really…technical?


Thank you to NetGalley for a free eCopy of this graphic novel in return for an honest review. I’m not particularly enamoured by this book, which is sad as the concept is something right up my alley. A comic which delves into mental health and anxiety sounds like a brilliant idea, as it could bring awareness to a whole new group of people and help those who would never normally seek access to this information. There is a lot of referenced data, and some clean cut illustrations to add to the information. It would be a very good book to present to someone to educate them about anxiety, whether in relation to the receiver of the book or someone around them. There was a lot of information about anxiety itself in the first half, and information on how to manage symptoms in the second half, both of which were informative and helpful.

However, the way it has been worded is very clinical, and although this may work in some settings it doesn’t in a comic format. It makes it feel slightly alienated and aloof instead and meant that I wasn’t engrossed, I was just browsing. As another reviewer has mentioned (Nikki “The Crazie Betty” V on GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/2616607-nikki-the-crazie-betty-v), this comic felt “more like a tri-fold pamphlet from the doctor’s office than a graphic novel” and I definitely agree with this thought. It may be too complex in some places also, there were a few little bits that I struggled with but the rest seemed at level with my previous education on the subject (two years of study at A Level [16 – 18 years old] in psychology), which was fine for me but is not good for a publication which is supposed to help those not familiar with anxiety understand more about the condition.

It is a nice idea, and the information contained within seems to be accurate, well referenced and useful. But, something about it just doesn’t hit the mark to be sold as a graphic novel, as it’s a little too aloof and technical, would be a good little leaflet to have in a doctors office though.