Character Aesthetics

Recently, I have started making image collages, also known as ‘Aesthetics’ on Tumblr, or sometimes ‘Moodboards‘, for some of my favourite book characters and my groups D&D characters.

Essentially, making an aesthetic is simple enough; you take multiple images of scenes or items or words that relate to the chosen character – such as main features, where they live, their physical features, their jobs, their fears – and make a nice neat photo collage of these images. It also often includes adding in your ‘dream casting‘; as in: if you could cast the movie of this book/character, who would you put in the lead role. This can include known actors, the actual actors if it has been made into a TV show or film, or just random models or stock photos found online. I prefer the later, this gives the collages an individuality, and doesn’t just seem to be a carry-over from any other visual version that is already available.

It doesn’t have to be a specific character either, or a character at all really. It could be an entire book, a series, a mash-up of two or several of these, a unique character pairing, a place or setting or even a particular event – anything you want really.

I can’t really explain why, perhaps it’s the latent graphic designer in me, but I really enjoy the motion of scrolling through image searches endlessly; pinterest, tumblr, google. Scraping to find the perfect images to sum up these characters, arranging them so that everything fit together just right. There’s something to very satisfying about it.

I’m open to suggestions, but plan to make quite a few more of these in my spare time in the coming months. You can see my collections so far below:

The Raven Cycle:

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The Raven Cycle Hogwarts Houses:

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D&D Characters:

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You can see a larger collection of my aesthetics/moodboards HERE.

For more information, visit my contact page.

Disclaimer: None of these images are owned by me, nor do I take credit for the images themselves, merely the compilation and placement of said images. Images found on pinterest, tumblr, google.

The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle #1), Book Review

Author:Maggie Stiefvater
 Published: September 2012

Every now and again, I come across a book that makes me want to be a better writer. When language paints not just a story, but vivid, moving images in your mind.

Once I started this book, I couldn’t help but be inexplicably drawn into Blue and Gansey’s world. Into a world where magic might be a possibility, where money isn’t always power, and where the future is enormously heavy, even if you think you know what’s coming…


8093221486_58da76fdb6_z.jpg“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”

It is freezing in the churchyard, even before the dead arrive.

Every year, Blue Sargent stands next to her clairvoyant mother as the soon-to-be dead walk past. Blue herself never sees them—not until this year, when a boy emerges from the dark and speaks directly to her.

His name is Gansey, and Blue soon discovers that he is a rich student at Aglionby, the local private school. Blue has a policy of staying away from Aglionby boys. Known as Raven Boys, they can only mean trouble.

But Blue is drawn to Gansey, in a way she can’t entirely explain. He has it all—family money, good looks, devoted friends—but he’s looking for much more than that. He is on a quest that has encompassed three other Raven Boys: Adam, the scholarship student who resents all the privilege around him; Ronan, the fierce soul who ranges from anger to despair; and Noah, the taciturn watcher of the four, who notices many things but says very little.

For as long as she can remember, Blue has been warned that she will cause her true love to die. She never thought this would be a problem. But now, as her life becomes caught up in the strange and sinister world of the Raven Boys, she’s not so sure anymore.


This book has had a lot of exposure in the online book community recently. I’ve seen it popping up time and time again, and while I slowly fell in love with the cover art and the sheer beauty of these books, I knew nothing about the storyline. The post that  pushed me over the edge was on Instagram by Andrew (@BritBookBoy) – his photos are simply stunning – but he had highly recommended this series and his taste in books is not only amazing, but very similar to my own. So, I went out and bought the first three books.

 


Processed with VSCOcam with a9 presetThis book had me gripped from the start. The characters, the intrigue, the mystery. I just needed to know what would happen, after the first page. Without even knowing anything about the main protagonist, or even antagonists, I needed to know. How psychic were these women? What was the significance of what they saw? Who was the boy? How would he die? And so it had sucked me in.

More than just the story though, the mystery unfolding page-by-page, I was thirsty for more information about the characters; about these crazy, weird, complicated, magical characters.

Gansey is entirely captivating. I fell in love with him almost immediately. Even though he’s rich a-hole who goes to a posh, pre-ivy league private school and almost seems programmed to be the kind of character I would usually dislike greatly. With his crazy long name with numbers (Richard Campbell Gansey III) and inability to perceive life outside of his bubble sometimes, his unwavering desire to complete his task is absorbing. You can’t help but root for him to succeed. No to mention, he speaks very proper english, and his use of language is nothing short of thrilling. But more than that, he’s so very charming. And as, unconsciously, uncaring as he may be sometimes (a ‘dick’, if you may, but don’t call him that); you kind of can’t help but want to be a part of his posse. And a part of his never-ending search.

“My words are unerring tools of destruction, and I’ve come unequipped with the ability to disarm them.”

Ronan is like a lost boy – since his father died, he’s almost not sure who he is anymore, and that makes for lots of teenage angst. He’s almost always angry, he’s easily tipped over the edge and he’s hard to get along with if you’re most people; and yet, you just want to know more. Because if you’ve ready this book through to it’s understatedly wonderful conclusion – you know there is so much more.

“Gansey had once told Adam that he was afraid most people didn’t know how to handle Ronan. What he meant by this was that he was worried that one day someone would fall on Ronan and cut themselves.”

Adam is almost the opposite of Gansey; broken and battered, Adam is the only one of the Raven Boys who can’t rely on money from his family to get him by in life. He has to work for his place at Aglionby. He has to lie and try and hide the bruises on his face. He has to sneak, and keep a low profile, and disguise his roots. Adam is mysterious, but he isn’t at the same time, and yet, you can’t help but feel a connection with Adam, and feel like he’s the normal one, the one who understands the real world, and not just the fantasy, a little more than the other boys.

“When Gansey was polite, it made him powerful. When Adam was polite, he was giving power away.”

Noah. Noah. Finding out about Noah is what kept me turning pages well into the night. Finding out about Noah is what got me through hard work days waiting to get home and pick up my book again. Finding out about Noah makes this book addictive. And no more will be said on this – so go and read this book NOW and find out about Noah.

“Noah appeared beside Blue. He looked joyful and adoring, like a Labrador retriever.”

Blue is a little strange. But that’s probably because her mother is a psychic – no, for real – and she lives with several other psychics; women who can actually, quite specifically, see things. Even if Blue can’t. Blue, who exaggerates the energy around her, drives the story forward, and holds the power of the most thrilling, and possibly important, piece of information that we are given at the very beginning of the book – in less than twelve months, Gansey will die. Aside from not really liking her name, (like Gansey, I prefer Jane) Blue herself is likeable enough, even though I didn’t really relate to her as much as I related to Gansey and Adam.

“She wasn’t interested in telling other people’s futures. She was interested in going out and finding her own.”

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Then, of course, there’s the writing. I’ve read Maggie Steifvater books before, but it was the stories that stayed with me then, not necessarily the writing. The Raven Boys however, will stay with me for both. The language, the sentences and the images that are provoked – as an English major and someone who has not only studied language and it’s use in literature, but just as someone who just loves language – this book was magical.

You don’t need to love the fantasy genre to love this book. The character development is amazing, the story is a lovely, overarching masterpiece of language, with each character having their own arch intertwined within it. I recommend this series to anyone who loves getting lost in a book, and I can’t wait to read the rest of the series.

From Maggie Stiefvater, the bestselling and acclaimed author of the Shiver trilogy and The Scorpio Races, comes a spellbinding new series where the inevitability of death and the nature of love lead us to a place we’ve never been before.

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If you need to be enticed further, here is a fanmade vid to whet your appetite:

Seriously – we NEED Netflix to take this up – I would watch the crap out of this show.

Images: here, here, here,

Ready Player One, Book Review

Author:Ernest Cline
Published: 2011

A perfect feat of nostalgic charm, fangirl satisfaction and completely engrossing storyline.

This book has stolen my heart. It’s so wonderfully written, and so absolutely, insanely clever. It’s been a really long time since I read a book that struck so many chords in me, brought out so many emotions, and brought out a large amount of huge, no-holds-barred, fangirl grins.

In the year 2044, reality is an ugly place. The only time teenage Wade Watts really feels alive is when he’s jacked into the virtual utopia known as the  OASIS. Wade’s devoted his life to studying the puzzles hidden within this world’s digital confines, puzzles that are based on their creator’s obsession with the pop culture of decades past and that promise massive power and fortune to whoever can unlock them. When Wade stumbles upon the first clue, he finds himself beset by players willing to kill to take this ultimate prize. The race is on, and if Wade’s going to survive, he’ll have to win—and confront the real world he’s always been so desperate to escape.

The book follows our not-so-heroic hero, Wade. After billionaire game-creator James Halliday dies, leaving his fortune up for grabs in a virtual scavenger hunt, the world goes crazy. But when no one has found anything after five years, the competition, while not forgotten, has lost it’s momentum. That is, until Wade, or rather his avatar Parzival, finds something. And that’s where the book takes off.

RP1-aestheticI was born in the 80’s and a lot of the references are things that I grew up watching, reading or loving. To have all of these things that I’ve loved in some capacity or another, as a child and an adult, feature so seamlessly in a story that was so contemporary was utterly joyous. But even so, all these great tugs at my heart strings aside, the story was completely engrossing. It started off a little slow, but once it got going, it swallowed me up and I was hooked, dying to know how our heroes would defeat the guys that you can tell were just written to be hated.

Without digging too deeply, and getting all philosophical, this book is just good old fashioned fun to read. I related to more than one of the characters and I cared enough about them to be concerned by what was happening to them – I was dragged into their world and for me that makes a good book.

In a classic battle of Good vs. Evil, and a Star Wars like charm of a rag-tag band of misfits joining in their pursuit to save the world, this book really has everything a fangirl could want and more. recommended to anyone who loves a great science fiction story with a little bit of a love story, loads of texture and a brilliant and gripping ending sequence!

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Imges via: here, here

The Truth About Alice, Book Review 

Author: Jennifer Mathieu

Published: June 2014, Roaring Brook Press

In the tradition of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher – this book gives a scarily true representation of a teenage world and the seemingly terrible horrors that can transpire within it.

Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party.

But did you know Alice was sexting Brandon when he crashed his car?

It’s true. Ask ANYBODY.

Rumor has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It’s written all over the bathroom stall at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumors start to spiral out of control.

In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students—the girl who has the infamous party, the car accident survivor, the former best friend, and the boy next door—tell all they know.

But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there’s only one person to ask: Alice herself.

We’ve all been there – high school. It’s not the greatest place in the world for all of us. For some, it can be an easy ride, but for others it can turn into hell in a heartbeat. Alice is one of those others. She seemingly had it all – looks, popularity, friends, grades. But after one fateful summer party, the rumours start. And Alice is at the centre of them all.

TruthAboutAliceThis book is so simple at a first glance – and I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s easy to read and it flows and it’s not at all hard to get into. From the very beginning you just want to know what happened to Alice: did she really do it, why are people saying all these things? And from four different points of view, everything slowly starts to unravel, the story takes shape and becomes so much more complex that you ever would have thought.

The characters are all very relatable. Even though I was never a popular American teenage girl, I can still see where Elaine is coming from, her reputation on the line if she doesn’t ditch Alice immediately, and her anger at the rumours themselves. Josh is also part of that popular world, best friends with the star quarter back, he seemed to have it all planned out, until Alice came along and ruined it. Kurt sits comfortably on the other side of the fence, no friends, but content in not having to translate life for the stupid masses, and this gives him a different view of Alice, too. And then there’s poor Kelsey, the former best friend of the now infamous Alice Franklin, who slowly divulges why she left Alice for dead (socially). Between the four of them, we find out what Alice did. Or do we?

This is an emotionally charged journey, in which Alice finds herself in the midst of a tremendous and ugly rumour mill. Teenagers can be really cruel, but sometimes, they’re only doing it to protect themselves, and sometimes, they’re even extremely kind. Finding out why is half the fun of this story. This book has a really interesting view point, and explores what happens when a rumour starts and can’t be stopped. Recommended to fans of contemporary YA fiction.

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Images: Here, here,

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Read Me Like a Book, Book Review

Author: Liz Kessler   

Published: May 2015 by Indigo

This book spoke to me.

There are several reasons that I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. One of them is definitely the writing – so easy and flowing, the type of writing that prevents you putting the book down willingly. Another is the story, it’s so simple and so relatable that it just sucked me right in and didn’t want to let me go. Last was Ash – I saw so much of my younger self in her that there was no way I wasn’t gonna fall in love with her.

The premise is simple:

Ashleigh Walker is in love. You know the feeling – that intense, heart-racing, all-consuming emotion that can only come with first love. It’s enough to stop her worrying about bad grades at college. Enough to distract her from her parents’ marriage troubles. There’s just one thing bothering her . . .

Shouldn’t it be her boyfriend, Dylan, who makes her feel this way – not Miss Murray, her English teacher?

readmelikeabookI think there need to be more books like this one going around, no fairy-tale crap, no misleading happy endings. Just real feelings, real characters, a disarming sense of loss but no life stunting sadness (think Twilight and Bella’s ridiculous breakdown) – this story feels real. It’s real life and it’s really relatable; chances are that we’ve all had an unrequited crush on someone – and its crappy, but it’s not the end of the world. And this book tackles that beautifully.

I loved Ash. She reminded me so much of a teenage version of myself, back when emotions – particularly those that you haven’t experienced before – can be insanely confusing. Ash deals with things in a normal, teenage way: she withdraws, she lashes out, she bottles things in, she fights with her friends, she makes silly mistakes and wrong moves; Ash is just so very relatable and I love her persona so much. In fact, I’m sure I’d put my love for this book down to Ash and her character, and how well she is written.

Unrequited love is harsh. It’s cold and lonely and confusing, particularly when the receiving end is a teacher. Even more so if they are the same-sex as you. Discovering yourself as a teenager is hard, its complicated and it takes a certain amount of bravery. Liz Kessler writes this so poetically that it is integrated almost seamlessly into her amazing story. This is the type of book I would have read a hundred times during high-school had it been available to me back then, purely on the basis that someone, somewhere, knew how it felt to feel like you weren’t normal, but so totally normal at the same time; like everyone knew who you were but you and they were all waiting for you to catch up.

The actual story itself isn’t very difficult to follow – it’s a simple love story: girl meets boy, girl likes boy, boy likes girl, girl realises she doesn’t really like boy, girl likes teacher, teacher doesn’t like girl like that, girl feels rejected and confused… (okay, maybe not so simple.) But simple as it may be, the story is utterly engaging, it’s completely enthralling and it just left me wanting more. Honestly, it was a lovely, honest and sweet coming out story, there’s nothing over-the-top or smothering about this book, and I would recommend it to anyone; gay, straight or left-handed.

The story also deals with the separation of Ash’s parents and the breakdown of their marriage. This is not something I have experienced myself, but was still detailed throughout the story in a way that I could still relate to what Ash was feeling. The character growth that pulls Ash through the book is wonderfully written, and also not so much so that she comes out the other end a totally different person; I really liked that Ash still felt like the same character at the end as at the beginning, yet subtly different, enough so that we can figure she really has done a decent amount of self-discovering through-out the book.

Added bonus: I am an English fanatic, I loved it in high school, I majored in it at Uni, I am a readaholic adult and I just love writing. So the fact that this story not only focuses on Ash’s English teacher, but also her own growing adoration of studying English really engaged me. Loved it.

Brutally honest and unceasingly charming, this book should be read by teenagers (and adults) the world over.

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Popsugar 2015 Reading ChallengeA Book Set in Another Country

Images: Here, here,

Ketchup Clouds, Book Review 

Author: Annabel Pitcher 
Published: 2012 by Orion

Once again, I have finished a book and am left with a totally depressing book-hangover and a complete heart smattering over the ending. This novel is sweet, honest and touching, but written so strongly, even if it may not seem so at first, the story draws you in, hook, line, sinker and heart.

 

Fifteen-year-old Zoe has a secret—a dark and terrible secret that she can’t confess to anyone she knows. But then one day she hears of a criminal, Stuart Harris, locked up on death row in Texas. Like Zoe, Stuart is no stranger to secrets. Or lies. Or murder.

Full of heartache yet humour, Zoe tells her story in the only way she can—in letters to the man in prison in America. Armed with a pen, Zoe takes a deep breath, eats a jam sandwich, and begins her tale of love and betrayal.

kc-packshotIt took me a little bit of time to adjust to the writing, it seemed that the voice was younger than that of a fifteen-year-old, but as the story progresses, so does Zoe; and I suppose that it’s been a long time since I was fifteen, and I’m sure that my own writing voice would have been much the same at that age. However, once I got past the initial few letters, the whole tone of the book really started to reel me in, and like I’ve said before, I love epistolary novels, and this one, written in the form of letters fits the bill perfectly.

Zoe has done something: something unforgivable, something she can’t tell anyone, something she has to live with. But she has to get it out, and after a bit of good ol’ internet research, Zoe decides to write to Stuart Harris, a criminal across the world, on Death Row in Texas. She writes him letters, with no reply, and she tells him her story. She tells us her story. And it’s a tricky one. The story is complicated, emotionally charged and doesn’t stop giving the reader something to look forward to. I read almost the entire final two-thirds of the book in one sitting.

The characters are intriguing, of course, the twisted love triangle is even more so. And as Zoe gets more and more involved with each of the boys, we learn more and more about her, and more about her relationship to each of them. The most interesting thing about the novel is, technically, we know the ending. We know from the blurb alone that Zoe has done something horrible, and she is writing to a convicted murderer, and revealing her feelings of sympathy for what he must have felt or be feeling. So we can safely surmise that one of the characters is going to die and Zoe is going to have something to do with it. What I really love though, about the novel and the way the story plays out, is that as the reader, we really have no idea who is going to die until the very end of the book. And then when you get there, you’re heart just breaks. Guaranteed. ketchup-clouds-featured1

This book deals with some complicated issues, and gives a stunning insight into guilt, grief and the struggle associated with both. I loved this book, and really didn’t want it to end. But even though it did, and even if it didn’t end how I had imagined it, it was still wonderful, and fresh and very real.

Added Bonus: Here is a manuscript of a talk with Annabel Pitcher about Mental Health: Let’s talk about mental health

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Popsugar 2015 Reading ChallengeA Book written by someone under 30 (It was published in 2012, so she would have been under 30 while she was writing it :p)

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Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock – Book Review

Author: Matthew Quick 
Published: January 2014 by Headline Book Publishing

Leonard Peacock is turning 18.
And he wants to say goodbye.

Not to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing something tragic and horrific.

Nor to his mum who’s moved out and left him to fend form himself. But to his four friends.
A Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour
A teenage violin virtuoso
A pastor’s daughter
A teacher

Most of the time, Leonard believes he’s weird and sad but these friends have made him think that maybe he’s not.

He wants to thank them, and bid them farewell.

matthewquick-forgivemeleonardpeacockI’ve read a lot of books about depression and suicide. I have had Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder) for most of my adult life (and probably most of my young adult life, undiagnosed) and find that I can relate well to these characters, draw from their experiences and relate them back to mine, learn from them, grow with them etc, etc, etc. But this book was more than that to me. Unlike All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, in which one of the main characters does, after much fighting against it, eventually kill himself; Leonard, is so adamant to let it consume him and end his life, and he doesn’t fight it. Leonard has accepted his fate, his doom, his demise. And he is content with it, not accepting that anyone can actually help him, regardless of whether he wants them to save him or not. Leonard’s story is about goodbye, not about battling his inner demons; Leonard’s demons have, seemingly, already won.

And that’s one of the things I really like about this book. The gritty, harsh reality of it. Because a lot of the time, (especially at that age, when the bigger picture is so very difficult to see,) giving up is the easiest option. Giving in to the desire, the burning ache, to just end everything and be done with it, is real. Leonard is a little quirky, as most male protagonists in YA lit are these days, but I like his quirks, they’re subtle and cool and even though he doesn’t seem to fit in in his shitty high school, he’d certainly feel at home in college or university. He’s smart, but he is humble. I really liked Leonard’s character.

What I loved secondly about this book, was it’s ability to keep what happened between Leonard and Asher – likely the catalyst for Leonard’s depression – under wraps until Leonard actually allowed himself to think about. Leonard had hidden it away in the deepest, darkest recesses of his mind, and did not want to think about it, and so the reader didn’t get to know about it either. The information on each character that Leonard was saying goodbye to came when, and if, it was needed.

tumblr_ms5g74snHw1rkciaro1_500I also loved, wholeheartedly, the mix of non-traditional prose in this novel. There are three main prose forms in this book: the main traditional prose through which Leonard’s story is told, footnotes to the story to add in after thoughts, additional information and anecdotes that Leonard feels the reader ought to know or to give context, and lastly the letters that Leonard writes ‘from the future’ to his teenage self. This kept the book interesting, even if the letters don’t make sense at first.

The characters, as few of them as there are, also helped to keep this book interesting. Actually, not even really the characters themselves, more the stories behind the way each character was connected to Leonard, and the thoughts that Leonard has about them, how he feels about them, and the ideas he conjures in his own imagination about each one.Herr Silverman was the one I definitely found the most interesting, the way he actually cares about Leonard, ad in a way that Leonard doesn’t even understand. In the end, even though he only kind of admits it, Leonard is glad that there was at least one person, one adult that he could turn to, talk to, and who might even be able to save him. The way Leonard sees Herr Silverman instills in the reader that eternal little blip of hope, that maybe they really aren’t completely alone. And this little blip of hope is IMPORTANT, it sends a great message to anyone that might relate closely with Leonard and his view of the world. The true, gritty insight into Leonards mind is exceedingly well written, engaging and honest, and I LOVED it. I’m sincerely looking forward to picking up more books by Matthew Quick!

Again, I have to say: It’s important to reach out for help if you think you might be suffering from depression, sometimes this is the hardest step to recovery. If you don’t feel like you can talk to anyone in your life, sometimes an anonymous ear to listen can go a long way, contacting a counselling service can save a life, or even just someone online who understands what you’re going through (yes, this is an invitation to email me if you ever need to talk to someone). Check out Beyond Blue for more information on battling depression, or suicidal thoughts.

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Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: A Book that Became a Movie (t’s not a movie yet, but a movie is in the works)

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Five Books I’m Really Looking Forward to Reading

I have a book addiction. Seriously, I can’t go into a bookstore without buying books, and I go into bookstores a lot. Ergo, I have a lot of books sitting on my shelves at the moment that are still waiting to be read. But they look so pretty, sitting there, waiting.

There are well over two dozen books sitting on my To Be Read (TBR) list at the moment, but here are the top five on that list that I can’t wait to read:

(Hover over the titles/authors for links to more information)

1. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

matthewquick-forgivemeleonardpeacockI know very little about this book, and that’s partially why I’m so excited to read it. I suppose, I tend to love any book that tackles the taboo. Such as I loved Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, or even Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, this book also tackles those ever taboo issues in high school. I haven’t read any other of Matthew Quick’s books, but I saw the film of Silver Linings Playbook and that book is also on my TBR list, and hopefully this book lives up to the awesome reviews I’ve seen so far, none of which, thankfully, have given away any of the plot.

2. Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

kc-packshotI originally picked this book up based on the gorgeous bird prints on the outer page edges, they are simply stunning. Then I read the blurb – Secrets, romance, murder and lies: Zoe shares a terrible secret in a letter to a stranger on death row. I mean, doesn’t that just seem to hook you in right away? Also – I love books that are written, or stories that are told, in non-traditional prose, so letter writing is right up my alley. A novel centred around a 15 year-old and her complicated grasp of live and emotion, this novel is certainly one that I am likely going to devour in a matter of hours.

3. Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy

22456952Now, to be one hundred percent honest with you, this was predminately a ‘cover buy’, although I had technically decided that I wanted to read it before I actually purchased it. I saw it on @blueyedbiblo‘s instagram feed and the cover was just gorgeous and the title equally as intriguing.  On top of that, this book is written entirely in lists. Yes, lists. Something I adore, use a lot in my day to day life and tend to be drawn to, particularly when scouring social media (think, ’20 things all girls who wear glasses know to be true’ etc.). So another non-traditional prose based novel full of teen angst I simply can’t wait to dive head first into.

4. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

book-coverAnother book written in letters. It seems I can’t help myself when it comes to these types of books. This book sees our protagonist writing a letter, first off, as a school project, to someone who has died, and Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain. This is admittedly one of the main reasons I want to read this book, because I am old enough to have been into Nirvana just after Kurt took his own life, so I remember actually hearing about it and coming to terms with that as a pre-teen. Death is always a hard subject to write about, and grief is even harder because we all experience it so differently. This book was going to be my first to read in May, but my copy got really badly damaged in a rainstorm not long ago, and my new copy came today, can’t wait.

5. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

The-Shock-Of-The-Fall-coverIt was the blurb of this book that made me carry it away from the shelf and up to the counter to part with my hard earned cash. The blurb consists of a simple quote in a childlike voice: “I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.” And that was it, that’s what grabbed me. But another book about mental illness is something that I know will grab my attention, because it hits so close to home. This book has had a lot of great reviews, and seems like it’s gonna be another brilliant read.

Keep your eyes peeled for reviews of these books on my review page as I read them. You an also keep up to date on what I’m currently reading, if you feel so inclined, by following more of my book adventures on Instagram (@felixturtle_reads) and on Goodreads (felixturtle).

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Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Book Review

Author: Becky Albertalli
Published: April 7th 2015 by Balzer + Bray

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised. 

Honestly, this is one of the cutest, most endearing books I’ve read all year. It’s honest and sweet and genuinely entertaining. At no point did I think ‘I want to put this book down’.

Albertalli has created such a genuine, believable, and relatable character in Simon Spier that all I want to do is bring him home and hang out with him, and get to know him better. And that’s what reading this book felt like, almost as though I was hanging out with Simon and getting to know him better. This book literally had me laughing, crying and squealing with delight, and I am not ashamed to admit that.

simonvsposterrodilSimon is super sweet, very cute and completely smitten with a boy he emails, but has no idea who his true identity is. In fact, Simon is trying to figure out exactly who he is himself, and how to express that true identity to those that matter to him. He has to find that right moment to perform his huge Coming Out. So far, Simon has only spoken about his being gay to one other person, and that’s Blue – his secret email pen-pal whom he doesn’t really know, but desperately wants to.

Of course, everything gets flipped on its head when things go wrong and someone screws up. And Simon is all of a sudden thrown headfirst into the whole universe knowing his secret, but he still needs to protect Blue, even though he desperately wants to know his identity himself.

The thing I think Albertalli does brilliantly, is seamlessly integrate contemporary means of communication: Facebook, email, Tumblr, text; and make it flow so naturally. The voices in the book, Simon predominately, as well as Blue, and even some of the supporting characters are so true to life, simple, messy and just fun to read. Overall, I can honestly recommend this book to anyone, of any age that loves a good book, with a fluffy ending, and none of the cheesy, fake feeling clichés. This book will now sit on my favourites shelf, proudly.

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Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: Another book set in high School

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All the Bright Places, Book Review

Author: Jennifer Niven
Published: January 6th 2015 by Knopf

When Finch and Violet meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school—six stories above the ground—it’s unclear who saves whom. For fans of The Fault in Our Stars and Eleanor and Park, this is an exhilarating and heart-wrenching love story about a girl who learns to live from a boy who intends to die…

 

Theodore Finch is fascinated by death, and he constantly thinks of ways he might kill himself. But each time, something good, no matter how small, stops him. 

Violet Markey lives for the future, counting the days until graduation, when she can escape her Indiana town and her aching grief in the wake of her sister’s recent death.

I have to be honest, This book took me longer to read than the few I read before it. But I’m glad I persevered, very glad. This book gave a true glimpse into depression, the horribly crippling side effect of Bipolar Disorder. And by the time I finished, I had really enjoyed it.

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The novel starts out a little differently, with the two protagonists meeting in the clock tower of their school, contemplating suicide. After this unusual, and uncomfortable beginning, the two take a while to become friends, and eventually more, and this was the part of the book I found a little slow. But as I mentioned, I’m glad I pushed through, because as the two become closer, Violet gets more of a look into Finch’s mind while he begins to slowly fall apart. But I’ll get to Finch later, because for me, he made this book.

Violet Markey has her own demons that she is dealing with. Almost a year ago, her older sister died in a car accident while driving them home from a party. She used to be in with the popular kids, and now she just wants to keep her head down and get to graduation. But then she meets Finch. Finch, over time, pulls violet out of her funk, out of her shell and out into the world. Once again, Violet slowly starts to be excited about things again, and starts to write again, and even starts to drive again. And she, of course, falls in love with Theodore Finch. The thing I love most about Violet is her love of writing, which she has lost, but starts to find again throughout the novel. She used to work on a website with her sister, eleanorandviolet.com, and she later starts up a new project, an online magazine she names Germ, both of which exist and you can visit online. I adore when authors create extra content and avenues for their fans to explore the book.

bright placesTheodore Finch is troubled. He contemplates death, he wanders aimlessly, and he doesn’t really care what people think. Except that he does. He has periods of ‘the Asleep’ – where he can not function, or perform normal day to day tasks, while depression is not spoken about obviously or openly in the book as much as suicide, it is clear that this is what Finch is suffering from. He likely has Bipolar Disorder, suffering his manic periods alongside mania with his excitement about being with Violet, and the uphoria he feels when they are together. The thing about Finch that drew me in – as much as he may just be another quirky, not-fitting-in, rebellious teenage boy – is that I understand him. I have Bipolar Disorder and have struggled, predominately when I was a teenager, with depression and with thoughts of suicide. The way Niven voices Finch, the way he talks about how it feels, even the way Violet observes his behaviour, is how it is when you just don’t fit in the world situation you are living in. When you don’t fit in your body, you don’t fit in the world, you don’t fit anywhere and it’s completely debilitating.

Jennifer Niven beautifully captures the tragic, overbearing, often unnoticed struggle of depression and suicide, for those struggling to avoid it and those struggling to pick up the pieces upon being left behind. I genuinely recommend this book to all ages, as mental illness can strike at any stage in life, and it should not be taboo, we should be able to talk about it, not have to keep it inside.

It’s important to reach out for help if you think you might be suffering from depression, sometimes this is the hardest step to recovery. If you don’t feel like you can talk to anyone in your life, sometimes an anonymous ear to listen can go a long way, contacting a counselling service can save a life. Check out Beyond Blue for more information in battling depression, or suicidal thoughts.

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Buy it Here:

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
 

Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: A book by an author I’ve never read before

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