Thursday, 21 June 2018

Crime and Historical Fiction

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  • Burial Rites - Hannah Kent ( SO well researched, powerful and full of feeling. A truly impressive debut.)
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Tuesday, 16 January 2018

Eating Disorders | Why 'To the Bone' affected me

Hello all,

I apologise in advance for this seemingly random post that isn't book related and is actually about a movie. I also apologise that it will not be taking the light-hearted format of my usual writing, due to the nature of the post. Although being upbeat in difficult situations is often a great thing, I feel it would be wrong for this post and indeed for the way I'm writing this post. I just sort of want to spew feelings onto a page so if you'd rather not experience that (for which I definitely do not blame you) feel free to click away…you have been duly disclaimed.

For those of you who are unaware ‘To the Bone' is a movie that was released in 2017 on Netflix and follows the story of a girl on her journey to recover from anorexia. I started watching it this evening for two key reasons: Firstly, because it looked good and I had heard good things. Secondly: Lily Collins is in it. Seems sort of shallow considering the topic of the movie, but honestly, that was it.

The film begins with a warning message, telling the viewer that it might be disturbing for some and hard to watch given the graphic nature of the film and the sensitivities surrounding such an area. Although I read the feature in full… I didn't belong to the crowd. I watch gore and horror and know I am not particularly squeamish. Mentally, having not suffered from an eating disorder, I didn't feel like I would be affected too badly. Obviously, I would feel bad but I wouldn't be too upset, it was fine, it's just a movie, it's just life. I thought nothing of it. It wasn't until I found myself holding back tears at several moments throughout, sometimes at points that weren't even particularly tear-jerky that I began to think…hmmm, I really am being affected by this. It was Upon furiously blinking away tears over a completely casual conversation the protagonist was having about ‘boogers' that I paused and furiously mentally exclaimed ‘WHY AM I CRYING!?' that it sort of hit me.

 I may not have personally suffered from an eating disorder or faced a struggle to quite the extreme level as shown in this movie. But I have certainly experienced an eating disorder.

As someone who has been on the outside, in the least-selfish way possible it was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. So I can only imagine what the hell it was like for the person who was actually facing this arduous constant battle.

The peoples I will now be talking about will remain nameless for privacy's sake

Let me tell you about my friend. From my side of the tracks.

I had two best friends and we did everything together. I remember sitting together stuffing our faces with marshmallow fluff at 12 am watching shitty makeup tutorials and laughing at nothing. Life was easy and great and our biggest worries were usually school related or boyfriend drama. Weight wasn't an issue. An occasional moan about some belly wobble or how our thighs splooged outwards when we sat down came up but we were all pretty secure in our bodies. In fact, if you had walked into that room of sugar-ridden 16-year-olds and told them somebody in this room would soon have an issue with food and would become dangerously underweight all gazes would have shifted to me.

I was the one with the appetite of mood swings. One minute scarfing down a roast with two puddings to follow, one day picking at my dinner like a bird at a feeder. I was the one who was always dubbed ‘too skinny' in the changing room. The one with the sticking out ribs. The other girls had healthier eating habits, they both had healthier looking, grown-up bodies. There was nobody, however, to come from the future and tell us how awful things would get. Nobody to tell us that no it wasn't me.

I have no idea when how fat my friend was became an issue. I can't read her mind and I can't ask her because sadly we have drifted away from this closeness we had. What I do remember is when she shed the first load of weight.

It was GCSE results day and us three friends plus one more went to the beach to celebrate. We could not get over how amazing our friend looked in her new bikini, flaunting her shiny toned tummy and muscular legs. This summer she had shed her puppy fat and slimmed down from doing manual work. Even looking back now I can tell you she looked healthy and happy and she practically glowed when we showered her with wondrous comments all the day through.

She was now the hot girl. Not just to us, because she had always been gorgeous in our eyes. Everyone saw the transformation and I think that was how it started. Someone who felt out of the limelight their whole lives was now receiving so much positive energy. It must have been addictive. I can see that.

Exercising became more regular and eating became healthier: more salads, fewer carbs. Apparently, nothing to stress over. My other best friend and I didn't even really bat an eye when she started buying lunch from town for fear of the ‘unhealthy, greasy school food.' She wasn't silly enough to go hungry. She's got this under control.

I remember her telling me exactly the same thing when she stopped eating lunch altogether. We reached out to adults we thought could help and in a small way it did. It showed our friend somebody noticed. Somebody cared.

I was always the friend I think she felt she could tell anything. So she told me. In bits and pieces. Not that it was not under control of course but with a bit of push and shove I found out how much she was really exercising. How much she was really eating and what. How she now looked without her shirt on. I remember seeing her slightly shriveled appearance, shivering, looking utterly embarrassed and ashamed and truly thinking: my best friend is going to die.

I pushed a huge section of myself and my life away because I was so utterly and completely devastated that somebody I loved and cared about would do this to themselves and that I had let them and that I couldn't stop it. I'm glad I did, I don't regret it because I like to think I did help.

Her obsessive lack of eating became my obsession. I made her meal plans, I patted her reassuringly on the back as she asked for food in the lunch queue, I gave her secret small smiles of courage or a kick underneath the table when she swallowed a bite or when someone commented on her rationed plate. I made her issues so personal to me that it was so hard for me not to yell and scream and get frustrated. Why could she not just eat, why did she have to be so thin, why why why? I blamed our friends, I blamed our school, I blamed myself and I blamed her, I blamed fate for crying out loud because surely it has to be somebody's fault that caused somebody to become this?

One night we were chatting about her eating and her progress and how she was actually doing that little bit better. A small but cherished victory. I asked her the sacred question: ‘why?' and I realized she had the same unhealthy mentality as I. She was blaming everything and anyone. Her need for attention, her family, school, her boyfriend, the media, every comment from every girl about how much she ate, all of which were factors of course. Then she said something, which to this day rattles me.
She said: ‘don't take this the wrong way but a lot of me blames you.'
 I blamed myself too, of course, I thought I was a terrible friend, not attentive enough etc. But she assured me I was a good friend and my blame on myself was misplaced.

"no its more I wanted to be like you. You're so thin, you eat far less than I do, you have all these weird eating habits. It was you that started it."

To not appear hurt by this was near impossible. I thought my friend was dying because she was copying me. I was devastated. I began to change my actions, eat more in front of her, try to put on weight and celebrate about doing so but in all honesty, it had little effect. I wasn't the cause of her eating disorder, you can't find a cause. There are simply too many and the brain is too complex a place to find an answer.

I resorted to everything to try to ‘cure her'. Found her a therapist's number form a friend of a friend, offered to ring up for her, Reverse phycology, buying her extra food she liked, making every meal like it was no big deal but also a great success, monitoring how much she used her exercise app, praying every month her period would come back, praying again that when it did she wouldn't freak out and lose what little weight she had gained. I measured her leg against an umbrella in width to shock her, I broke and cried and begged her not to die, not to give up on me to tell me what to do. I tried to understand and accepted when sometimes I couldn't. I took every blow she threw at me, every knock and stab that I was doing the wrong things, I didn't really care, I should just leave her alone and stop pretending to be some expert when I knew absolutely nothing.

What I really learned from having a friend with an eating disorder is it's not so much as losing a friend. It's like them coming back from holiday with a replacement. It's like your best friend has this new shiny BFF, one you can't compete with. One that is with her when you are and when you're not, whispering in her ear, feeding her lies to allude her body into thinking it is living and nurtured. That is why this film affected me. Not only did it make me miss that deep, loving connection I had for this friend in some twisted tragic way, but it made me feel helpless and useless and frustrated like I always did during this time. It made me feel the way I felt when I held my best friend and begged her not to leave me.

To anyone reading this, I may seem selfish, like I was the one suffering and like I was such an amazing person. That is not the message I am pitifully trying to convey at all. I am fully aware that I did not have to go through anything even bordering on what my friend will have to carry the rest of her life. I am fully aware that I still do not and probably never will understand eating disorders, but from this, I hope I can shed some light on how I felt bad for being affected by a topic I am not directly related to. And maybe I'm trying to reach out and tell anyone who feels guilty or frustrated or achingly heartbroken over a loved one battling with themselves. I know. Just keep going.

Happy Reading/Watching,

Hebe x

Monday, 1 January 2018

2018

Hi All! Another year, another book challenge! Last year I actually for once competed my challenge *bows profusely* so I've decided to bump up my book goal by 5 books! 45 books here we go...2018 you better be a good one...




Book goal: 45
Books read: 24
% complete: 53%                                    


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  • A court of Thorns and Roses #1 - Sarah J Maas (RE READ)
  • A court of Mist and Fury #2 - Sarah J Maas (RE READ)
  • A court of Wings and ruin #3 - Sarah J Maas (RE READ)
  • A court of Frost and Starlight #3.5 - Sarah J Maas
  • Amy and Matthew: A love story - Cammie McGovern

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  • Burial Rites - Hannah Kent

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  • Crown of Midnight (TOG #2) - Sarah J Maas (RE READ)

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  • Dark Days (Skullduggery Pleasant #4) - Derek Landy (AUDIO VERSION)
  • Differently Normal - Tammy Robinson

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  • Empire of storms (TOG #5) - Sarah J Maas

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  • Heir of Fire (TOG #3) - Sarah J Maas (RE READ)
  • Here's looking at you - Mhairi McFarlane

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  • Isla and the Happily ever after - Stephanie Perkins

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  • Playing with fire (Skullduggery Pleasant #2) - Derek Landy (AUDIO VERSION)

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  • Queen of Shadows (TOG #4) - Sarah J Maas
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  • Ratburger - David Walliams

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  • She doesn't know - Shane Morales
  • Skullduggery Pleasant (#1) - Derek Landy (AUDIO VERSION)

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  • The Faceless ones (Skullduggery Pleasant #3) - Derek Landy (AUDIO VERSION)
  • The Girl on the Train - Paula Hawkins
  • The Luxe (Luxe #1) - Anna Godberson
  • The Night Circus - Erin Morgenstern
  • Throne of glass (TOG #1) - Sarah J Maas (RE READ)


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  • Wolf brother (chronicles of ancient darkness #1) - Michelle Paver  (AUDIO VERSION)

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Sunday, 9 July 2017

Book Review | Lacey's Story: Skinniness is Next to Goddessness

Title: Skinniness is Next to Goddessness - Lacey's story

Author: Julia Keanini

Genre: Contemporary, YA

Pages: 258

Series: The first of six books 

Publisher: Pickled Plum

Rating: 5 stars

Lacey Steele knows all of life's hardships, her mother's disapproval, her classmates' disdain, and her own lack of self-esteem would be fixed if only she were thinner. With her friend Ashley, they create the Future Goddess Girls Club. All it will take to lose the future? Drop the extra pounds plaguing them. 
As the number on Lacey's scale decreases, the more she feels empowered and the faster she wants results. Extreme calorie cutting may be a bit much, but at least it isn't a real eating disorder.
Lacey and Ashley's shortcut seems to good to be true, outfits they only dreamed of wearing now fit perfectly and boys they'd longed for, now can't help but turn their heads.
But just as life seems to become exactly what they want, the shortcut reveals its price, one much too high to pay.
Skinniness is Next to Goddessness? Lacey's Story takes on a dark subject in a brighter manner combining the difficulties of body image and eating disorders with hope, love, and eventual acceptance.
The Goddessness? books are stand-alone and can be read in any order, but each contain mild spoilers for any previous books in the Goddessness? series.


Its rare but it has happened - I awarded 'Lacey's story' 5 whole stars! This book was totally amazing, as you will see by how much I am about to rant and rave about it. (sorry in advance)

This has to be the first book I have been asked to review that is written in such a fantastic style with a plot that perfectly balances its various twists and suspense in each chapter, meaning I actually couldn't put it down and ended up pulling an all-nighter. (Kind of sad that most people my age are pulling all nighters at parties and such in comparison to mine, which consist of reading). The fact that I was gripped throughout and couldn't get it out of my head even after putting it down is always a sign I've read something really really good.

The writing style was perfect for its genre: conversational, not repetitive, no inappropriately fancy vocabulary and such, but not simple and babyish either. The characters were all written well and maybe could have done with a bit more description as I found a few hard to picture, however, this does allow the reader to come up with their own interpretation of the characters.

The message behind the story and the story itself was my favourite part about 'Lacey's story'. Keanini managed to completely capture the mind of most teenage girls, especially those who struggle with body image or eating disorders, which is an alarming amount in this day and age. it was scary how from a readers perspective it was so easy to see eating behaviour as poor or irresponsible, however, reflecting on it there are times where I know many girls and boys (myself included) have had similar thoughts or feelings to those in the book who have a bad relationship with food and it shows how easy it is to fall into bad habits.

I thought not only was the book funny and well written, but the romance in it was spot on. teenagers have this habit of sort of averting the topic of liking someone and waiting for them to figure it out even when it is blindingly obvious it is meant to be. Keanini let this happen and made the characters more real and more relateable. Nobody was special or out of the ordinary and it made one relate easier to characters especially Lacey herself. 

Overall a really great summer read and would recommend to anyone! 

Happy Reading,

Hebe x


Friday, 2 June 2017

Book Review | Red Hourglass

Title: Red Hourglass

Author: Scarlet Risque

Genre: Thriller, Romance

Pages: 249

Series: First in the Hourglass series

Publisher: N/A

Rating: 4 stars


A POWERFUL, MYSTERIOUS woman finds a homeless girl in a New York subway and adopts her. Janet swears loyalty to the White family and they train her at their Academy as a secret agent. Before long, her transformation into the Red Hourglass—an assassin—is complete. She is ready to start her missions in service of the White Queen.

In order to learn the whereabouts of her real mother from the White Queen, the Red Hourglass must stop the planned expansion of Wilmar Enterprises. She goes undercover to infiltrate Wilmar, and she is hired as the executive secretary to the Chief of Security, Conan Casey.

Janet works diligently to uncover all Wilmar’s secrets. She soon learns that Conan Casey, her target, is heir to the billion dollar Wilmar organization. She falls prey to his dark seductions and twisted secrets … and they leave her gasping for more.

She unwittingly bets her stakes on a dangerous game of love. Where do her loyalties lie? Will she betray Conan for the White Queen, or fall in love with him and give up all hope of finding her real mother? And will they get out alive?

The first in the Hourglass series - a dark coming of age thriller romance novel about finding one's identity with dominance and submission romance scenes against the backdrop of capitalism, undercover agents, poker and tango with an infusion of eastern and western philosophy.


So I have just realised that when I first published this review, it managed to delete itself so this is take 2 of my review for 'Red Hourglass'!

Any synopsis that contains traces of badass female assassins and steamy Romance immediately grabs my attention and so I was super excited when presented with 'Red Hourglass'.

I really loved how original the plot was and the different links tied into the main plot. Although at times I found it a tad predictable, there were times where I was not expecting the twists that arose and this kept me gripped. At times I found I simply couldn't put this book down and every chapter ended with me wanting to squeeze in another before bed time (one more chapter inevitably turned to many many more).

Another feature I loved was the way in which the characters were linked to each other. I thought Conan was so hard to read and it was difficult to gauge how I felt about him. This allowed me to empathise with Scarlet a lot more and really helped me engage with her as the main character. I also loved how the White Queen interacted with her agents and vice versa and thought this relationship was a new concept and fun to get my brain around.

The characters themselves all added to the plot and were more complex than first meets the eye, which was sort of perfect. I thought the skill in which Risque adapted the characters steadily but surely and gave them all different personalities and purpose was really great. I would love to have had more development on Conan's family and thought scenes with them, particularly at the end were rather rushed and crammed in and would have benefitted from more attention.

One thing I was not expecting was the adult nature of the romance in the novel. With the 'fifty shades' craze still at its height, for many the steamy scenes would be an enticement, yet for me they were a little graphic and often laughable I found (this may just be my immature brain of course!)

The writing style was accessible yet not to basic, which was wonderful as you could imagine a lot but your brain wasn't going into overdrive trying to figure out words or over the top descriptions.

Overall, a fast paced, action packed read and would recommend to any adult who is into thrillers and crime reads.

Happy Reading,

Hebe x