My Dream Book Panel | Mental Health Awareness

Hey guys, today is going to be a very different post. I've partnered with Eventbrite to share my dream book panel. I've personally used Eventbrite for many of my bookish needs. It is the largest self-service ticketing platform in the world that helps people find and plan events. I used it to go to Apollycon back in 2015! Be sure to check them out so you can get the 411 on any bookish events near you! So without further ado, let me share my dream book panel. 

What will the panel be about?

I'm really glad you asked! You all know your girl here is big on Mental Health Awareness in books. As an anxiety sufferer myself, I feel that it is imperative to have voices that shine a light on mental illness and give hope to people who are experiencing the same thing. I picture this as one of the most inspiring and endearing panels any booklover could ever attend. More specifically, I would like it to cover why mental health awareness in books is so important and how aspiring writers can begin their journey writing in this genre. We need more of these types of books! 

Who will be on my panel?

*eyebrow dance* I thought really long and hard about this, and I have decided to choose authors whom have a great perspective and knowledge on mental health in their books. I have read from some of these authors, but not all. I have also chosen some authors that I want to read from and whose books I've heard nothing but fantastic things on by trustworthy reviewers and personal sufferers. These are all authors, who I personally think, have very different perspectives on writing about mental illness in books. **some of the books mentioned have trigger warnings for self harm, depression, and suicide. 

Kathleen Glasgow, author of debut novel Girl In Pieces, is an author who definitely deserves a place on this panel. I swear, I'm not just saying that because I loved her book to pieces (eyyy see what I did there?). Kathleen's debut novel is unflinchingly honest, drawing from the author's own experience with self harm. The story starts off with the MC who is in a hospital. She is soon released, and we get to experience her transition back into society. Since Kathleen is an own voices author for mental health, I would love to hear her thoughts about putting her experiences on paper. 

Karen Fortunati is also a debut YA author! Her first book, The Weight of Zero, is about a girl who struggles with bipolar disorder. It's specifically about her recovering and relapsing from her disorder, always fearful for its return. I'm really keen on having Karen in my panel because of her extremely unique take on mental illness. Depression is personified in her book and Zero, as it is called by the MC, is always ready to drag Catherine Pulaski back into the dark abyss that is her bipolar disorder. Another great perspective to add to this panel! 

Matthew Quick is no stranger to the mental health community. I've only read Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock, but that book was enough to make me fall in loving with his writing and representation of mental illness. Be warned, FMLP discusses suicide and the MC's suicidal thoughts. I remember reading in an interview, that part of why he writes books surrounding mental illness is to show people that even though they might not be able to relate, they have to believe that these people exist. Thank you Mr. Quick, for being the man to introduce this community of books to me! 

I would love to have debut author Louise Gornall on this panel! If I'm not wrong, Under Rose-Tainted Skies is Gornall's first YA novel. It follows a MC who has agoraphobia and severe OCD. Now I've already heard so much about this book, but it wasn't until April Maximus' mention in her November wrap up did I realize how much I needed this book. Reading the synopsis, I expected there to be a lot of romance; more romance than I'd like in a book surrounding mental illness. After reading April's video, however, I'm no longer reluctant to pick this up. April, also a sufferer of anxiety, absolutely loved it and said that it was relatable and the relationship wasn't romanticized at all. Sounds like a 2017 release that should be on your list! 

What would I ask the authors?

  1. Hello authors! Before we get into the nitty gritty questions, let's talk a little about each of your books. Tell us the title and a short summary of your book. 
  2. So you all write books about the mental health community. What would you say is the hardest part about writing a book surrounding mental illness? 
  3. I do believe some of you have suffered from mental illness. For those who haven't, what kind of research was done to ensure accurate representation?

Individual Questions for Authors: 

  1. Kathleen Glasgow. Your book draws from your personal battle with self harm. What do you hope for readers to retain from your book? 
  2. Karen Fortunati. In your book, Zero is Catherine's terrifying depression that always seems to seek her out. How you first decide to write about a personified form of Catherine's depression? 
  3. Matthew Quick. Can you recommend some of the best books you've read that encompass mental health/mental illness? 
  4. Louise Gornall. As you may know, often times mental illness is romanticized in YA literature. Your book includes an adorable romance, however, it is not portrayed as the savior in the story. What is your opinion on romance in books about mental illness? 

Who would moderate?

I don't mean to be selfish, but I would very much like to moderate this panel. It's not only because I want to meet all of these authors (okay, maybe that's 80%... 90%... of the reason why). I think I'd be a great addition to the conversation as someone who's read a lot of great and not so great books advocating for mental health awareness. I also suffer from anxiety, and I know what it's like to seek out relatable representation in books. I'll be the girl in tears at the front of the panel, sobbing over how beautiful this mix of conversation and authors is. 

Where would the panel take place?

BOOKCON/BEA OF COURSE! It's been a long-time dream of mine to see large scale events (such as Bookcon and BEA) include more diverse panels. Whether it be of the LGBTQIA+ community, disabilities and mental health in books, PoC, or marginalized groups and authors, I want to see it all! I would love for this panel to someday be featured in Bookcon and BEA, as these two events draw in so many readers from around the world annually! 

Thanks for reading. What would your dream book panel look like?

Maresi by Maria Turtschaninoff | Feminism in YA Fantasy Writing

Title: Maresi (Book 1 in The Red Abbey Chronicles trilogy)
Author: Maria Turtschaninoff
Pages: 256 pages
Release Date: January 3rd, 2017
Source: ARC from Amulet Books
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Feminism
Rating: 5/5 stars
Only women and girls are allowed in the Red Abbey, a haven from abuse and oppression. Maresi, a thirteen-year-old novice there, arrived in the hunger winter and now lives a happy life in the Abbey, protected by the Mother and reveling in the vast library in the House of Knowledge, her favorite place. Into this idyllic existence comes Jai, a girl with a dark past. She has escaped her home after witnessing the killing of her beloved sister. Soon the dangers of the outside world follow Jai into the sacred space of the Abbey, and Maresi can no longer hide in books and words but must become one who acts.

Preorder now!
"Feminism in YA fantasy writing," the publishers pitched. 

*puts down current read to start this book*

Finnish author, Maria Turtschaninoff brings her A-game with this feminist-empowering fantasy story. As a book reviewer, I find it extremely difficult to be able to distinguish certain gems from an entire sea of books. That rings true especially when reading in Young Adult genre because most books are just purely entertaining and never burn a lasting-impression in my head. Most people turn away from YA books because they think they won't learn something out of it or because it's simply 'too childish'. With Maresi, however, I believe this is a book every single person no matter what age group they fall under should read.

Only women and girls are allowed in the Red Abbey. We follow Maresi, a thirteen-year-old novice, as she documents her story and time at the Abbey through one long flashback-like moment. The Red Abbey is a peaceful haven for young girls and women who seek refuge away from society or abuse. That is, until Jai arrives. Jai brings with her the burden of her past and her father who will not stop until he gets ahold of his precious daughter who has brought him a great deal of shame. And when men invade the Red Abbey, the true strength and resilience of these girls and women are put to the test...

Image result for feminist gifs

If you've been reading YA for the past several years, you'd be familiar with the oh-so-popular female heroine complex. Everyone loves a good kickass female protagonist. Just take the most popular ones: Celaena Sardothien, Katniss Everdeen, Tris Prior and even Cinder from The Lunar Chronicles series. My true task in writing this review is to convince you that this book is extremely different from any of the YA books you've ever read before. 

In some ways, it is the same as every female-heroine YA book you've ever read because there simply is a female heroine. The females save the day. The females make it out in the end. What else do you want me to say? But in an entirely different aspect, you'll find that this book is unlike any other YA.

These Red Abbey girls who seek a safe haven are usually brought to the island at a very young age. They grow up entirely away from the bonds and care of men. And so, they must cook, clean, learn and survive without men. 

In most female-heroine books, we see only one female making a difference, fighting off the bad guy or even saving the world. In Maresi, we see an entire community of females (both young and old) come together to fight off a greater evil. If that doesn't scream girl power, I don't know what does!

Image result for girl power gif 
"I want to grow up to see what the world has to offer me and what I have to offer to the world. I am not finished with it yet."

- quoted from an advanced and unfinished copy of Maresi, by Maria Turtschaninoff 
I'll admit it took me quite a while to get into the book, but I think that's because of how much the narrator lagged on and on about the Abbey's history in the beginning. Once I hit the middle and Jai's entrance into the story, I was hooked!

Another thing I want to point out is Turtschaninoff's ability to write such a fantastic story in only 256 pages. Likeeeeee what?? The book itself is so tiny but she hit all the points of the story and managed to write a superb book. The history of the Red Abbey was extremely well-developed. We learned why the Abbey was created, how it was created and the magic behind it. I think the flashback format that she followed played a great deal in revealing character development of our narrator Maresi. It was kind of ingenious!

An absolutely stunning addition to any booklover's YA bookshelves. An inspiring piece about the presence of strong feminism in YA fantasy writing. Empowering. Ground-breaking. Heartbreaking. A story about sisterhood, feminism, and inner-strength. Maresi will capture reader's hearts, both male and female alike. I think every gender can learn something from this book. From the world-building, magic, to the emergence of a strong female voice, this book was definitely a 5/5 star read for me.

I'm pretty much over one single female character being the embodiment of feminism and strength in YA literature. If you are too, I highly suggest picking up Maresi when it comes out on January 2017.

Trouble Makes a Comeback by Stephanie Tromly | RELEASE DAY BLITZ GIVEAWAY

Title: Trouble Makes A Comeback
Author: Stephanie Tromly
Release Date: November 22nd, 2016
Source: Paperback galley from Penguin Teen
Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary
A whip-smart, screwball noir mystery—with snappy prose, wry humor, and breakneck dialogue—this sequel to Trouble Is a Friend of Mine is perfect for fans of Veronica Mars, Sherlock, John Hughes, and Carl Hiassen. After a fall semester of fiascos: getting arrested, then kidnapped, then blown up in an explosion (all thanks to the weird but brilliant Philip Digby), Zoe Webster is looking forward to a quiet spring. Now that Digby has left town, she's finally built a regular high school life for herself. She's dating Miles, the alternate QB; she knows girls she considers friends; she's learning to enjoy being normal and semi-popular. Which of course is when Digby comes back: He's got a new lead on his missing sister and he needs Zoe's help. Suddenly Zoe is tussling with a billionaire arch-villain, locking horns with armed goons, and digging into what makes the Digby family tick, even as she tries to navigate the confusing and emotionally fraught world of high school politics and locker-room drama. After all, it's hard to explain Digby to a boy like Miles, especially when Zoe isn't sure how she feels about Digby herself—or how he feels about her. Now that Digby's back, get ready for another hilarious whodunit filled with razor-sharp dialogue, ridiculously funny action, and the most charismatic, dynamic duo you've ever met. And just try to stay out of trouble. We dare you.
Buy it now! 
Hey guys! I'm here to share a special book birthday with you all. Trouble Makes a Comeback is the sequel to Stephanie Tromly's Trouble series. As of now, I believe it is titled as a duology but we never know when another bun is gonna pop out of the oven right? I was planning on reading the first book, which I've been hearing so much about. But you know what? School and life are just not agreeing with me right now so I've barely had time to read anything. 

Why I'm Excited To Start These Books?

  • THERE'S A WISE ASS MALE LEAD | You all know (or should know) that I have an obsession with Jennifer L Armentrout's books. JLA books usually mean one too many wise ass male characters that acknowledge their hotness and like to be smart asses. Frankly, I'm surprised by how used to it I am and how much it makes me smirk. When I heard that there was going to be a wise ass guy involved, I was sold! You should be too! These dynamics are fun to read about.
  • Falling for someone you know is all wrong for you? STORY OF MY FREAKING LIFE. I can't tell you how many times I've had crushes on the 'bad boys' and 'rebels' of my school. It's like my mind is saying know but my heart is saying yes yes yes. I'm excited to see how that comes into play with this book. 
  • A romance and a mystery? Oh my, is it Christmas already? This series promises a romantic mystery with sharp and witty humor. I'm so ready! 
  • If Sherlock and Veronica Mars had a baby, it would be this book. Need I say more?

You know you want it...


Of course, I can't just announce that there's a new book coming out and not do a giveaway! Sponsored by Penguin Teen, enter for your chance to win a copy of Trouble Is A Friend of Mine AND Trouble Makes A Comeback. There will be three winners!

The Thanks U Give | A Bookish Community Thanksgiving Celebration

Happy Monday everybody! I know, I've been the worst book blogger ever and I haven't been posting consistently. This year has been hard on me, and I noticed that I'm not going to have enough time to bring out posts every single week. Right now, I'm aiming for at least one post per week but even that's not 100% completely manageable. But for today's post, I wanted to take a break from talking about all things books. 
Created by Mishma @ Chasing Faerytales and Hazel @ Stay Bookish, The Thanks U Give is an event running from the 21st of November to Thanksgiving day where bloggers can sign up and spread love throughout the bookish community. I was especially eager to sign up because Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, and I thought it was time to give back to this wonderful community that I've been apart of for about three and a half years now. 

 Where Have I Been?

This year I entered my junior year of high school and, boy, people weren't kidding when they said that this was going to be the most important year of my high school career. I'm not going to lie and say that I'm doing well in school because I'm honestly not. It's extremely disheartening that school is keeping me from doing the things I love to do - blogging and reading. I am angry. I am hurt. I feel terrible that I can't do what I absolutely love to do because school is getting in my way. And that goes into one of the first things I'm thankful for...

Things I Am Thankful For...

  • YOU | I am incredibly thankful to everyone who has ever visited my blog before. If you read, comment or share my posts, I am extremely grateful. Today is a day of giving thanks. I know that by the end of this post you'll be tired of hearing the world 'thankful', but there are really not enough words or thank you's to give you for your support. To all my followers and readers, you have given me something to come back to. To all the friends I've made since day one, you have inspired and taught me to become better and better every day. I love you. 
  • MY FAMILY | Family is something I will always come back to. My family, although they may not be reading this, has gone to hell and back for me. I am thankful for my mom's security, always making sure I don't talk to strangers on the internet (even though, I obviously do. Sorry mom). I am thankful for my dad's humor that has always lifted my spirits. I am thankful for my brother's unconditional love because even though I torture him, he always loves me. And lastly, I am thankful for my sister's support. Since day one, my sister has stood behind every decision I made for the sake of my blog and Youtube Channel. I love you, Kristina. We are two halves of one bean bun :D 
  • PUBLISHING COMPANIES | There's too many publishing companies to name that have trusted me to promote and review their books. When I first started blogging, I had no idea that there was a business side to all of it. Fast forward to when I emailed my first publishing company, and from then on I've had the courage to ask more and more. I'm so grateful for books that they send to me and even ones they send me earlier than the release date. It means so so much. This actually doesn't only apply to publishing companies, but to all companies in general that I've gotten to work with or have personally reached out to me! 
  • AUTHORS | Of course, where would we all be without authors? I am thankful for the time, blood, sweat, and possibly some tears that are put onto your pages. I am thankful to all authors, ones I've met and ones I haven't. Authors, near and far! You are the foundation that holds bloggers, readers, publishers and fangirls/fanboys together. 
  • GIRL IN PIECES BY KATHLEEN GLASGLOW | I'm thankful to all the books I've ever read for entertaining and teaching me, however, there's one book that I have to get down on my knees and worship. That book is Girl In Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow. Never have I read a book that resonates with me as best as GIP did. A book that understands me to my deepest core. It was like this book was taking my body and mind apart and putting it back together again in a story. Shortly after reading GIP, I was inspired to become someone different. I said, "hey this main character can do it, so can I!" Thank you Kathleen Glasgow, for being brave enough to write that story and for teaching other young girls and boys like Charlotte that there is hope! 

What are you thankful for? 

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