Tuesday, 26 June 2018

What I Lost by Alexandra Ballard

*trigger warning for eating disorders on this book and blog post!*

Publication: June 6th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) 

Goodreads Description:
What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again. She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size 0 obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick? 

My thoughts:
*I am placing a big trigger warning for eating disorders on this book! There is content in this book that could be trigger to some such as discussion of weight, size, calories, unhealthy eating behaviour and anxiety around eating.*

What I Lost is the eating disorder story I have been looking for. Ballard captures the raw intensity of what it's like to live with an ED and what it's like to be in recovery. While some parts were difficult to read I had an amazing time reading Elizabeth's story!

I loved how Alexandra Ballard discussed some of the more medical stuff associated with eating disorders that are usually not mentioned in the media. There is mentions of lanugo, Mitral Valve Prolapse (a heart condition), the girls get bone density tests and much more which was great to see represented. 

I really enjoyed reading Elizabeth's journey in recovery, I was cheering her on and loved reading the moments she had a breakthrough as well as feeling connected to her and her experience. I related to Elizabeth and the girls a good bit and while I was reading I felt like I really got to know Elizabeth and was rooting for her. The author captured living with and ED in an authentic manner and I found myself picking out little details here and there thinking 'Yes!!yes that's right! She gets it!' I also loved how Elizabeth goes through a bit of an identity crisis of who she was with/without her anorexia. I felt it was a realistic portrayal of someone with an ED.

While this book is really about Elizabeth's recovery, I did really enjoyed the mystery aspect of the plot of who was sending her the gifts. I was guessing the whole time and coming up with theories as I read which added a fun lighthearted side to a sometimes difficult read.

Elizabeth's friendships with the other girls was also a highlight. Their relationships were definitely complicated because of the situation they were in but they felt real and I liked that. They supported each other and wanted what was best for each other. Some is the side characters fell a bit flat but 2/3 where developed enough for me to care about them 

It was also super interesting having the parents as a big part of the story. The impact Elizabeth's parents had on her behaviours and her treatment had a bigger role than I expected. We even got to see how her treatment was effecting them. It is important in a story like this to include families because they are a big part of the recovery process. 

What I Lost is different than Paperweight and Wintergirls but a good different, a great different actually. This books are great but in a different way. What I Lost is a more of an uplifting read because this is a story about recovery.

I really enjoyed What I Lost and definitely recommend if you are looking for a book about eating disorders that doesn't shy away from the reality of living with one and has a strong focus on recovery. 

Thanks for reading,

A :)

Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Otherworld by Jason Segel and Kirstin Miller

Series: Otherworld, #1

Publication:  October 31st 2017 by Delacorte Press

Goodreads Description:
The company says Otherworld is amazing—like nothing you’ve ever seen before. They say it’s addictive—that you’ll want to stay forever. They promise Otherworld will make all your dreams come true.

Simon thought Otherworld was a game. Turns out he knew nothing. Otherworld is the next phase of reality. It’s everything you’ve ever wanted.

And it’s about to change humanity forever.
Welcome to the Otherworld. No one could have seen it coming. 

My thoughts:
Short review today guys because I was not a fan of Otherworld. At all.

I hated the main character and that made it so difficult for me to enjoy reading the book. Simon is an idiot. He does and says things that are so wrong, hypocritical and sexist and on top of that he is a stalker and just an all round round bad guy.i hated him and not in the I-love-to-hate a character kind of way; he was just so unlikeable it really hindered my enjoyment of the story.

The actual writing was meh. There was way to many sentences stating with 'I'; I felt like I was in school reading the kids' new copies. The overuse of 'I' did dial down a bit about half way but not enough that it wasn't noticeable. There was also a few incorrect tenses used- enough that I noticed which was annoying.

On top of not liking Simon and finding the writing to be just ok I wasn't a huge fan of the plot. It was alright but nothing ground breaking. I skimmed a lot and felt like I'd read similar stuff before. 

The combination of hating the main character, the weak plot and meh writing made it hard to get through. I ended up skimming a lot. If you're looking for a virtual reality book I'd recommend avoiding Otherworld and picking up Warcross by Marie Lu (review to come) instead!

Thanks for reading,

A :)

Tuesday, 12 June 2018

Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Series: Wayward Children, #2

Publication: June 13th 2017 by Tor.com

Goodreads Description:
Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you've got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

My thoughts:
Down Among Sticks and Bones is just as amazing as Every Heart A Doorway. It's a prequel to Every Heart A Doorway but can easily be read as a standalone. I had such an enjoyable time reading it!

I found it so easy to fall into. I was reading for what felt like 5 minutes and I was already 20% into the book! It was such a quick read I read it in one sitting in a few hours.

I really appreciated how Seanan McGuire explored gender stereotypes and how parents can influence a child's identities. The girls make themselves fit into the mould parents made for them as babies and over the course of the story they challenge this. I loved the message of how there is no one right way to be a girl 

The setting of Down Among the Sticks and Bones is very different to Every Heart A Doorway. The twin's door is very different to Nancy's- so the setting of this one is dark and has a more paranormal feel to it, with the eerie moors and vampires and the like. 

The plot was not as mysterious and dark as Every Heart as it is more focused on the girls forming their identities and the difference between them.

I think the story was a perfect length at just under 200 pages but I think any longer it would have dragged out.

Highly recommend if you are looking for a quick fantasy read!

Thanks for reading,

A :)

Tuesday, 5 June 2018

Hospital High by Mimi Thebo

Publication: September 29th 2017 by Lodestone Books

Goodreads Description:
My life had been saved...and boy, was I annoyed. Humour and attitude keep Coco going when things get grim. Her relationships with her mother, hospital staff and other injured teens sustain her when her school friendships fall apart. But although everyone's working to give Coco a normal life, Coco doesn't think 'normal' is enough... When she was fourteen, the author Mimi Thebo died in a car accident. Hospital High is a young adult novel based on the day she died and the subsequent three years spent recovering from the accident.

My thoughts:
I was pleasantly surprised with Hospital High. It is a book very different to what I usually read but decided to give it a go as I won a copy in a giveaway from Hanna Hodgeson (on YouTube). I actually ended up enjoying Hospital High for the most part.

It was definitely hard for me to get into it as there was lots of flashbacks in the beginning and I found myself getting antsy wanting to know more about Coco in the present. A lot of the flashbacks could have been edited down a bit more or put all together. I really stared getting invested at about half way through when new characters were introduced and Coco started making new friends, at that point I started looking forward to reading every night!

Coco, the main character, was not an easy person to get along with, and I found it hard to like her at times and she felt very rough around the edges. She has her struggles and I understand that but at times she really made life more difficult for herself than it needed to be especially in regards to her friendships/social circles.

There wasn't really a plot but I didn't mind, Hospital High is more of a life story since based on true events in the authors life. The story was nice and easy and calming to read and flowed nicely after all the flashbacks in the beginning. I also liked the side stoylines with the hospital staff and some of Coco's friends.

The writing is very simple and easy to follow but sometimes I'd stop and reread parts because the author captured a really complex feeling or idea so perfectly.

You could class Hospital High as kind of historical fiction in a way as it is set in the 70s. We get to see what it's like being a teenager in the 70s which was interesting. That's not something I've ever read before. Most of the historical fiction I read is late 1800s/early 1900s.

The story is mostly set in a hospital and this made it hard for me to connect with the story as luckily I have never had to spent time in a hospital and have never been seriously ill. It was eye opening reading about some of Coco's experiences there with surgeons and staff.

I obviously can't speak for the chronic illness rep in this book but I can only assume it was actuate and sensitively done as the story is based on true life and written as a sort of memoir.

I was surprised that it wasn't really a sad book like I was expecting. There were a few moments here and there but overall there was a more of a sense of calmness than extreme emotion.

Overall I enjoyed Hospital High more than I thought I would it is very different to my usual reads but had a good time reading.

Thanks for reading,

A :)