Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

30849412The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr
Genre: Contemporary
Published by: Penguin
Pages: 320
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★★
Note: We received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

On the cover of a sampler I received of this book, is the little sticker ‘The YA Debut of 2017′. That’s a big claim to make and a lot to live up to, but I definitely see how The One Memory of Flora Banks lives up to that claim, after finishing the whole thing and needing to sit in silence for a second to absorb what I’d just read. It was powerful, it was special and one I can’t wait for other people to read! Continue reading “Review: The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr”

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Review: The Form of Thing Unknown by Robin Bridges

cover93174-mediumThe Form of Things Unknown by Robin Bridges
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, (Re-telling)
Published by: Kensington Books
Pages: 304
Format: e-book
Rating: ★★.5
Note: I received this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review!

Natalie is suffering from some strange hallucinations while on the set for her school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. With questions of ‘who’s dating who’ and ‘we’re all crazy here’ the characters’ lives somewhat mimic those in the story they’re retelling. It’s an interesting concept, similar to Robin Bridges’ other novel Dreaming of Antigone where the protagonists are both aware of the text they’re retelling whilst retelling it. I’m not sure if it’s a style that completely works for me, but I’ve never been a fan of really meta fiction. But I think The Form of Things Unknown does a good job of blurring the lines between the original text and the new characters’ lives.

Continue reading “Review: The Form of Thing Unknown by Robin Bridges”

Trials, Tribulations & Triumphs with Juno Dawson and Nicola Morgan

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We were lucky enough to win two tickets to the Birmingham Literature Festival’s Teen Takeover event with Juno Dawson and Nicola Morgan! It was the only event that we really wanted to go to, because *dramatic pause* duh, it’s Juno Dawson(!) but we couldn’t afford the tickets so Maddie entered a giveaway (without my knowledge) and we won! (Thank you so much to Michelle Toy for hosting the giveaway!) I couldn’t believe that we’d get to see this amazing talk, and oh my goodness it was incredible.

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Juno reading from Mind Your Head

Both authors stressed the importance of talking about mental health issues and thinking about how they affect teenagers. Juno explained how the first experience of panic or stress is turned into a catastrophe because the sufferer can’t recognise what they’re experiencing. This is why she is so passionate about PSHE (Personal, Social, Health Education) being taught in schools, because if you can teach young people about the effects of mental health issues then they will be better prepared to deal with them, or, at least, be able to recognise the symptoms.

Later in the talk, Juno read from her most recent non-fiction release Mind Your Head, which is aimed at a slightly younger audience, but appeals to everyone. 1 in 10 teens have diagnosable mental illnesses. But Juno stresses: what about about the other 9? Mind Your Head is aimed at more than just the 1 person who was brave enough to seek help and be officially ‘diagnosed’. It’s aimed at the 1, plus the 9 who are probably being told to ‘just get on with it.’

The authors talked about limiting yourself by using labels. Once you’ve been professionally diagnosed or you diagnose yourself with a mental illness it’s important to remember that you are more than your mental illness. Nicola and Juno agreed that when a mental health issue becomes a part of your identity, it becomes destructive.

When asked about whether they made an active decision to include mental health in their books, Juno responded ‘it never occurred to me not to put them in, [because they affect so many young people.]’ Nicola talked about wanting to write about OCD because her niece suffers greatly from it, but because the mental issue came first in her planning the rest of the story hasn’t come together. To write something convincing, and not preachy or laboured, the characters and the plot have to come FIRST. Juno gave a perfect example of this: Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne, which we have both read and really loved how although Evie’s OCD is prevalent and really affects her life, it’s mostly about female friendship and understanding feminism.

Juno also talked a little about her new book Margot & Me which is set in the 90s, and follows a girl called Fliss, who goes to live with her grandmother in south Wales and discovers her gran’s war-time diary in the attic, and it unleashes some family secrets that have the power to destroy. It sounds ridiculously exciting, and once again, different to everything she’s written so far, and is expected to be released in late January 2017. Nicola also talked a bit about her upcoming releases – she’s mostly been focussing on non-fiction, but would like to eventually return to fiction – which is a mental health book aimed for schools!

We are mostly there to hear from Juno Dawson, and we learned some pretty Fun Facts:

  1. Juno agreed to write This Book Is Gay because she came up with the really cool title.
  2. After writing This Book Is Gay, Juno needed to take a break, (even though she was contracted for more non-fiction), so wrote Under My Skin and All of the Above, which proved to her that mental health as still at the forefront of her mind, hence Mind Your Head!
  3. Juno credits Youtube books for making teen non-fiction ‘a thing’. Well, their existence means there needs to be a new category in bookshops…
  4. Hollow Pike, Juno’s first novel, was set to be a four book series, but the book’s initial sales meant the publishers cancelled the other three books – even though Juno had written Hollow Pike 2!
  5. This turned out to be a really GOOD thing, because it meant that she wasn’t stuck to a ‘brand’, which is why all of Juno’s books are different, because genre can’t define her writing!
  6. Juno considers All of the Above a sort of re-telling of Hollow Pike without the human sacrifice.
  7. Hollow Pike had more explicit references to self-harm, but the publishers asked for them to be toned down. Juno joked ‘Can’t it just be a nice book about human sacrifice?!’
  8. Under My Skin was about possession first and then became about dealing with internal struggles/anxiety/Feminism.
  9. Juno’s written a book about Grindr called Strings but after the release of Spot The Difference for World Book Day, where the audience was 10+, the publishers decided to delay its release.

If you want to find out more about these authors…

Nicola Morgan: Twitter | Website
Juno Dawson: Twitter | Website


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Review: The Movie Version by Emma Wunsch

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The Movie Version by Emma Wunsch
Genre: 
Contemporary
Published by: Amulet Books
Pages: 368
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★

The idea of a character that constantly compares real life to the movies, and how it would be better if it was a movie, sounds like my kind of thing. I feel like I’m constantly quoting films or bringing them up in conversation, whether it alienates other people or not. So, The Movie Version was setting itself up to be good, but I didn’t realise it would be so great. With a great sibling relationship, a mental health issue and the trials and tribulations of first love, this book ticked way more boxes than I thought it would.  Continue reading “Review: The Movie Version by Emma Wunsch”

Review: Where You’ll Find Me by Natasha Friend

25666024Where You’ll Find Me by Natasha Friend
Genre: Contemporary
Published by: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Pages: 270
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★.5

I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

P  L  O  T
The story focuses on Anna, a girl who’s mother has been hospitalised with bipolar disorder, so she’s had to go and live with her dad, his young wife and new baby daughter. As well as that family fiasco, her best friend, Danielle, has decided she doesn’t want to be Anna’s friend anymore. With family and friendships falling down around her, Anna feels completely lost, and like no one understands her. That is until she stops getting mad at the world and realises there are other people, besides her mother, who care about her.  Continue reading “Review: Where You’ll Find Me by Natasha Friend”

Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord

25663637When We Collided by Emery Lord
Genre: Contemporary, Romance, Mental Health
Published by: Bloomsbury
Pages: 352
Format: ARC e-book
Rating: ★★★

I received a copy of this book from the publishers in exchange for an honest review.

I think I have a love/hate relationship with this book. I really liked that Vivi was representing a mental illness that isn’t usually talked about, and Jonah was a sort of child carer, but I’m not a fan of needing romance to accept yourself and Vivi was the essence of a panic mixie dream girl.  Continue reading “Review: When We Collided by Emery Lord”

Review: Underwater by Marisa Reichardt

26799477Underwater by Marisa Reichardt
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Published by: Macmillan Children’s Books
Pages: 256
Format: ARC E-Book
Rating: ★★★.5
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon | Author

Synopsis
Morgan, a seventeen year old star swimmer, suffers from agoraphobia after her experience of a school shooting. Tired of being a hermit, Morgan wishes she could live a normal life. Luckily, a new neighbour, Evan, gives her a chance to do so, and with Evan’s reassurance and the support of her family, Morgan finds her way back underwater. Continue reading “Review: Underwater by Marisa Reichardt”

Review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella

finding audreyFinding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella
Genre: 
Contemporary, Mental Health
Published by: Delacorte Books
Pages: 288
Format: ARC E-Book
Rating: ★★★★
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

The main selling point for this book is that it’s about a girl with social anxiety. But perhaps, the next main selling point is that it’s a YA book written by the chick-lit author Sophie Kinsella. A lot of people, on Goodreads, were getting exciting about Kinsella moving into the YA genre, and although I haven’t read any of her previous works, I can definitely say I was impressed by ‘Finding Audrey’. Continue reading “Review: Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella”

Review: Amy and Matthew by Cammie McGovern

amy and matthewAmy and Matthew by Cammie McGovern
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Published by: Macmillan
Pages: 320
Format: Paperback
Rating: ★★.5
Where to Find: Goodreads | Amazon

This book was like a breath of fresh air. Dealing with disability and mental illness, ‘Amy and Matthew’ ticks a lot of diversity boxes, and gains some originality points, as I’ve never read something that covers these issues. So, ‘Amy and Matthew’, I didn’t have a problem with. However, the fact it’s subtitled as ‘A Love Story’ is where things started to get a little tricky.

Characters
The first twenty percent of the book, we are introduced to the lives of our protagonists, written in 3rd person so we can experience their lives separately, as well as together. Amy has cerebral palsy and Matthew has (to begin with) undiagnosed OCD. They have to deal with the stresses of over-active and absent parents, along with trying to survive senior year. Amy wants to make some friends, which includes Matthew. They hang out and slowly, they fall in love. Except, neither character can overtly say they’re in love and if they do, each character seems to be in a different place in the relationship.
Continue reading “Review: Amy and Matthew by Cammie McGovern”