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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Recommendations: Books About Mental Illness

As you guys are probably aware, I am quite the advocate for mental illness as I have had some struggles myself. Unfortunately there is still quite a stigma attached to these conditions, so I'm here today to provide some books recommendations that will hopefully expand your knowledge! 

The Time Keeper by Mitch Albom. 

So this isn't a novel that is based solely on mental illness, but instead takes the approach of how we all struggle with the concept of time. The reason I suggest this novel is because one of the characters is a teenage girl who can't seem to get through her life fast enough - and that leads her to take some drastic measures. 

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

This was one of the first books I read and reviewed on goodreads, and remains one of my favourite books of all time. This is a novel about depression and a young woman's suicide, and the tapes she leaves behind explaining why - consider it a thirteen part suicide note directed at specific people. I felt like this was such a strong and realistic plot, because when I was deep in my depression I was so angry I wanted to blame everyone. Instead of dealing with my issues I was engrossed in them and wanted people to admit what they did wrong. But that doesn't happen and that's why I feel this is such a good read if you can emphasize with the main character. 

Boy21 by Matthew Quick

I'm throwing this one into the list because the main character Russ experiences a trauma, and it has a powerful effect on his mental state. So this novel deals with different things psychologically, but I still believe it is a good read. 

Hate List by Jennifer Brown

The protagonist in this novel is a victim. A victim of a school shooting that was caused by her depressed boyfriend and the "hate list" they had created between them. Do I need to say any more? This novel switches between past and present so the reader is able to see the development that caused Nick (the boyfriend and shooter) to feel like he had no other options. 

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

I did not enjoy this story at all, but I do understand why the author went the direction she did. This is a novel about a girl who gets kidnapped, and eventually falls for her captor. I understand that Stockholm syndrome is a serious thing, HOWEVER this author did not do a good representation of the development. As a writer I would have put more effort into the captor, wanting the reader to fall in love with him so that they would emphasize with the protagonist. This is on the list though because I believe not enough people understand that when in a situation such as this, it is very possible for a victim to have positive feelings such as empathy and sympathy toward their captor. 

Serial Killers and Mass Murders by Nigel Cawthorne

I know what you're thinking; Kristina, why would I want to read about serial killers? Because lovely viewer, most serial killers suffer from a mental illness, and that is usually what leads them to commit said crimes. Think back on some school shootings you might have heard about and their gunman: Columbine killers? Both bullied profusely. Virginia Tech? Bullied. Most of the time abused at home and bullied at school, these are people that are depressed and have reached the end of the line. They give up and decide to get revenge and go out with a bang (no pun intended). 

And an honourable mention:

The Program duology by Susan Young

This is a duology that deal with depression but it is a dystopian world. In this series when a teenager is diagnosed or assumed to be depressed/suicidal, the government decides they need to be admitted and have their memory wiped. Obviously life doesn't work like that but there were other aspects of this story that I really liked. 

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Ruthless Review (DNF'd)

Hello all and happy Wednesday! Today I thought I would do a kind of review for a book I was sent for review. I say "kind of" review because I didn't finish reading it, I only got 85 pages into it.


Written by: Carolyn Lee Adams
# of pages: 256

Published: July 14, 2015

Summary according to goodreads

Ruth Carver has always competed like her life depends on it. Ambitious. Tough. Maybe even mean. It's no wonder people call her Ruthless.

When she wakes up with a concussion in the bed of a moving pickup truck, she realizes she has been entered into a contest she can't afford to lose.

At a remote, rotting cabin deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Ruth's blindfold comes off and she comes face-to-face with her captor. A man who believes his mission is to punish bad girls like Ruth. A man who has done this six times before.

My Thoughts

I did recieve an advanced copy of this novel for review, but that does not affect my opinion towards it. 

I have only recently started giving up on books, but I did not want to do that for a review copy. I really tried to give this novel a chance as I was very excited for it, but it did not live up to the expectations I had. The first chapter or so was well done, but that's where it stopped. The writing was mediocre and I did not find myself in the story she was trying to tell.

I did not like the main character Ruth at all. She was strong emotionally considering this trauma, but I just did not like her personality. The way she treated people and viewed herself as better than everyone was very shallow. She is only 17 years old so I was bothered by her attitude that she knew/could do anything. The way she was written suggests an older character, but once she opens her mouth you hear a child. I hate to say this but all I could associate her with was only-child syndrome. 

There was hardly any dialogue which is something I want to see in a kidnapping story. What are his motives, what is his personality like, etc. He was described as the typical kidnapper you would see in an episode of Criminal Minds, and his nickname "Wolfman" didn't add anything. From a writers standpoint I can see why Carolyn kept us inside of Ruth's head, but as a reader it was very frustrating since she was an awful character (in my opinion, of course). 

Another aspect I did not like: the flashbacks between every chapter. They would switch between her past and the kidnappers past a number of years apart. For the kidnappers flashbacks you were able to see clips of how he grew up and the psychological effect it had on him, but for Ruth they just made her look like a snotty little girl and her horse shows. I didn't feel like there was enough consistency to these flashbacks, and although I understand why she used them, they were not done well enough to work. Maybe if I had stuck through this novel I would see how the flashbacks fit into the end goal of the story, but I did not have the patience. 

This was the authors debut novel so hopefully if she continues writing she will fine-tune her strengths. It is not easy to start as an author and considering she is a comedian, this was probably not the genre for her to begin with.

Overall, I was disappointed with this novel. I was expecting for it to be a kidnapping story, but it ended up being more about surviving in the woods. I am not saying that people would not enjoy this novel, it just wasn't the story I was in the mood for I suppose. If you decide to give this book a chance I would love to hear your opinions!

Obviously I won't be giving this novel a rating since I only read 85 pages.

~ Kristina

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

My Favourite Summer Reads!

It has been so humid in Ontario recently, so I thought today would be the perfect day to share my favourite summer/beach reads with you!

I personally love reading light contemporary or even new adult novels when I am on summer vacation. After a stressful semester at school I just find it nice and easy while my brain recovers!

The Vincent Boys duology by Abbi Glines


Ashton is getting tired of being good, of impressing her parents and playing ideal girlfriend to Sawyer Vincent. Sawyer is perfect, a regular Prince Charming, but when he leaves town for the summer, it's his cousin Beau who catches Ashton's eye. Beau is the sexiest guy she' ever seen, and even though he's dangerous, Ashton is drawn to him.

I know it sounds cheesy and typical, but i loved it. I read it in a couple of hours because it was so light and I couldn't put it down.

The Last Song by Nicholas Sparks


Seventeen year-old Ronnie's life was turned upside-down when her parents divorced and her father moved from New York City to Wilmington, North Carolina. Three years later, she remains angry and alienated from her parents, especially her father...until her mother decides it would be in everyone's best interest if she spent the summer in Wilmington with him. The tale that unfolds is an unforgettable story about love in its myriad forms - first love, and the love between parents and children.

I read this book almost three years ago and it has still stuck with me. If you are looking for something romantic with family elements and something darker lying underneath, I would recommend this one!

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
(or anything by Stephanie Perkins)


Anna is looking forward to her senior year in Atlanta, where she has a great job, a loyal best friend, and a crush on the verge of becoming more. Which is why she is less then thrilled about being shipped off to boarding school in Paris - until she meets Etienne St. Clair. Smart, charming, beautiful, Etienne has it all...including a serious girlfriend. 

THIS BOOK. One of my all time favourite books that makes me want to get on the next plane out of Toronto to Paris. Unfortunately the closest I'll is Paris, Ontario so I'll just live my wanderlust through Anna and St.Clair. 

To Be Perfectly Honest by Sonya Sones


Fifteen-year-old Colette is addicted to lying. Her shrink says this is because she's got a very bad case of daughter-of-a-famous-movie-star Disorder - so she lies to escape out from under her mother's massive shadow. But Colette doesn't see it that way. She says she lies because it's the most fun she can have with her clothes on. Not that she's had that much fun with her clothiers off. At least not yet anyway...

A verse-writing style with the love interest being an older guy that rides a motorcycle? Yes please. One of my favourites as well and even though it is about 400 pages in length, it flows so well!

Charlie St. Cloud by Ben Sherwood


In a snug New England fishing village, Charlie St. Cloud tends the lawns and monuments of an ancient cemetery where his younger brother, Sam, is buried. After surviving the car accident that claimed his brother's life, Charlie is graced with an extraordinary gift: He can see, talk to, and even play catch with Sam's spirit. Into this magical world comes Tess Carroll, a captivating woman training for a solo sailing trip around the globe. Fate steers her boat into a treacherous storm that propels her into Charlie's life. Their beautiful and uncommon connection leads to a race against time and a choice between death and life, between the past and the future, between holding on and letting go.

Like The Last Song, this is a romance-y novel with heavier topics. 

Grace's Guide by Grace Helbig


Face it - being a young adult in the digital era is one of the hardest things to be. Well, maybe there are harder things in life...but being an adult is difficult! So Grace Helbig has written a guide that's perfect for anyone who is faced with the daunting task of becoming an adult. Amusing and unexpectedly educational, this refreshing and colourful guide proves that becoming an adult doesn't necessarily mean you have to grow up.

I LOVE Grace and her youtube videos, so I knew I would really enjoy this book. It is divided into categories and topics so you can pick it up and put it down whenever! 

What do you enjoy reading most in the summer? A specific author or genre? Let me know! 

~ Kristina

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Books I DNF'd This Month (June)

Hey guys, so I thought I had had a pretty good reading month in June, but looking back I gave up on reading three books. THREE! And they were ones I had been really looking forward to, so I thought I would discuss that today.

First off I just wanted to tell everyone reading this that it is okay to not finish a book! My TBR is over 300, and if I wasted my time finishing books that I couldn't get into, I would never read everything I want to. After starting university and working, the time that I had to sit down and read for pleasure was precious, and I didn't want to waste that! My general rule of thumb is to give a book at least 50 pages before DNF'ing it, and if I see potential I'll push that to 75 or 100 to see if it catches my interest. 

So now let's talk about the books I couldn't read this month...

We Were Liars by E. Lochart

[Click for Goodreads page]

I went into this book with expectations through the roof. I thought I was going to be sucked in and then blown away with this big twist at the end. I was not. I read about 70 pages of this book, and those alone were a struggle. This book is only slightly above 200 pages, and I couldn't push through. I didn't feel anything towards any of the characters, and I honestly couldn't remember the ties to most of them (i.e who was a cousin, who was an aunt, etc.) Everyone keeps telling me that it is worth it once you get to the end, but I found out what the twist is and I'm not sure I could judge it worth finishing for that. However maybe the execution of it was fantastic and I'm missing out - that would be my loss. 

They All Fall Down by Roxanne St. Claire

[Click for Goodreads page]

First of all - cover love and appreciation please. That is the main thing that attracted me to this book, and then I read this line of the synopsis; "This is the power of the list. If you're on it, you're life changes. If you're on it this year? You're life ends." I KNOW. Sounds amazing right? The 50 pages I read did not lead anything to this. It was filled with teen angst and hot guys, a mysterious boy and a best friend who wants to soak up the attention she isn't getting. Maybe I'm getting too old for this kind of story (20 in September!), but I was very disappointed. I'd had this on hold from the library and started reading it the second it was available, but couldn't push through the juvenile issues unfortunately. 

To All the Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han

[Click for Goodreads page]

Please don't kill me/unfollow my blog for this one but I had to! Lara Jean was such an annoying character for me, that no matter how much I wanted to love it, I couldn't. I think I got about 80 pages into this one before I had to stop for (mostly) the same reasons as They All Fall Down. Why would you want to be with your sister's ex-boyfriend that you've known for years? A lot of things she said/did/acted bothered me and although I've heard amazing things, I have to disagree!

Maybe one day I'll try some of these novels again since I have heard such good things, but as of right now my TBR is too long! Other priorities are taking over but we'll see what the future holds! 

What are some books you have DNF'd or what are your thoughts on the ones I gave up on this past month? Have a good one! ~ Kristina