2 Months

Today officially marks two months with out my Bear. Each day sucks worse than the last. He should still be here. Still being my baby boy even if he was ten. I love my Stuart, my new pup, but the trauma of losing my Bear will stick with me. Will make it hard not to be guarded about loss. Bear was.. just.. something special. A pet I needed with out knowing it until he was gone. I love you, Bear. I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you.

Temporary Hiatus

I am going to be needing a temporary hiatus from reading and all projects and reviews that were coming.

My beautiful PomChi, Bear, was attacked by my neighbors pit bull. With great sorrow I had to put Bear down far sooner than I ever imagined I had to.

My beautiful boy had so many years left in him. So many laughs to give me. So many night sleep left to lay cuddled by my side. I haven’t stopped crying for four days and I don’t know when my pain and tears may stop.

Thank you for bearing with me while I deal with my pain and loss. I’ll return when I feel as if I have the strength to do so.

First Day of Spring Life Update

As if it wasn’t obvious I have been M.I.A for a good, long time.

Reason being is that my life had nearly, literally, blown up in my face. My house needed major repairs and everything that could go wrong, did. Our bathroom needed to be fixed first because of black mold and the toilet almost falling through the floor had it not been for the structural integrity of the pipes and basement floor boards.

Next our stove went. Thinking it was the heating coil and an easy repair we later found out it was the mother board. That is still out for repair with no idea if it can even be replaced given that it’s an in-wall unit.

Then went our fridge, which wasn’t that old! 6 years AT BEST. So for about two weeks we were living out of coolers filled with what we could save and ice. That was replaced recently for not a cheap price.

Our dishwasher was replaced, that was fun.

My uncle broke his ribs which limited driving and the ability to get our groceries or anything else we needed for about 6 weeks.

I’m not sleeping all that well and I’ve put on so much weight due to about three months of living out of coolers, eating out at restaurants, and fast food because we couldn’t cook for one reason or another. In all of this my Anxiety & Depression has taken a drastic nose dive. I just want to sleep, or hide, or just read books and be left alone. It’s very hard to deal with, as of late. I’m trying to get out of my slump but when everything just continues to fall apart it’s difficult to get out from under and you feel defeated.

So when it rains it pours! I just couldn’t win. The only thing that got me through were my favorite TV shows and books. I received some very special books.

The one I’m reading now is Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer. She sent me an early, hardcover, signed copy as I asked for an ARC but there weren’t any available at the time except for NETGalley. The reason being as I have a very similar situation with the main character. Not in HOW the situation with her family happened, but in that I have lost a parent at a very early age in life. I talked to the author and told her that I could see myself finding her book to be very therapeutic for myself and I would love to read and review it. I started reading a copy on NG and to my surprise I was sent the hardcopy.
I never received such a precious gift before. I will cherish this book to the end, I can already tell. I’ve already cried a few times, this book will kill me in the end but I think as the MC grows I might, myself, as well. Or gain a new perspective on how to handle my own grief as time goes on.

I’m very excited to finish this book. But also hesitant because I’ve already cried several times. LOL And Im not a crier. LOL.

Other than that life is SLOWLY getting back together. SLOWLY.

I went out with friends this weekend for St Patricks Day to celebrate what Irish Heritage is in my blood line. A few drinks, some cornbeef, friends, Cards Against Humanity, desserts, so on. Now I just wait to go home, as I don’t drive, to get to my OwlCrate which should be arriving today!

But that’s me! How’s YOUR life been lately? Less hectic than mine, I hope.

 

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han

Can we talk about how AMAZING Jenny Han and duology (soon to be a trilogy) is?!

If you haven’t read these books I do warn you there MIGHT be spoilers because I may be unable to stop myself from gushing over the incredible read this book is!

 

You’ve been warned!

 

Turn back now!

 

Last chance!

 

You’re about to blow it!!

 

You’re doomed..


 

Title: To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Author: Jenny Han
Paperback: 384 pages
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Reader

Synopsis: What if all the crushes you ever had found out how you felt about them…all at once?

Sixteen-year-old Lara Jean Song keeps her love letters in a hatbox her mother gave her. They aren’t love letters that anyone else wrote for her; these are ones she’s written. One for every boy she’s ever loved—five in all. When she writes, she pours out her heart and soul and says all the things she would never say in real life, because her letters are for her eyes only. Until the day her secret letters are mailed, and suddenly, Lara Jean’s love life goes from imaginary to out of control.

 

Like many other books before this one I’m not sure why I put reading it off so much. Mainly, I think, it was misconception of what the book was about. For me, contemporaries always seem to be about the same thing. Girl meets boy, boy breaks girls heart, they get back together, possibly sex, big lesson during some other drama, everything works out, and the end.
To me that’s soooooo boring! That and I’m just not into sex being in my books. Don’t think of me as a prude. I have read a few of the Sherrilyn Kenyon Dark Hunter books. I have a few favorites, one being the sexy god Acheron! It’s just it tends to get on my nerves if it feels forced or badly written or as if the characters are put in a situation where it shouldn’t have happened right then. Then I feel awkward reading it and don’t want to continue it. If it fades to black, that’s awesome because I feel, unless you’re into erotica, that’s not anything I wanna read.

ANYWAY, that’s usually why I’m not into contemporaries and thus I had a huge misconception of Jenny Han’s book. And Ms Han, I apologize WHOLE HEARTEDLY. I judged a book by it’s cover and title and for my 2017 New Years resolution (one I KNOW I CAN KEEP) I promise never to do that again! I will read a book no matter how it sounds if it even has the slightest hint of interest to me. I won’t let something else turn me off of it. Because, in the past, these books did interest me. I let something dumb turn me off to it.

Moving on!

HOW GREAT ARE THESE BOOKS?! I’m not actually done with book two yet; that review will come as soon as I am! I had to get my thoughts out about this first one, however.

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before made me have a lot of thoughts I hadn’t had before with others. I think that’s why Jenny will, and is, become a very strong force in my reading world.
Through Lara Jean, Jenny opened up a lot of my own fears about love, sex, and relationships I’ve struggled with even in my later years in life. On top of that the book also opened my eyes to the fact that change is inevitable. Whether you’re the one changing or the one being left, or feeling like you’re left, behind as everyone else around you is moving forward.

As far as the book itself, I have to say screw everyone that thinks Lara Jean is whiny and juvenile. I’m sorry, did we read the same book as everyone else? I know the mantra is not everyone reads the same book the same way, HOWEVER, Lara Jean IS JUVENILE. She’s, what, Fifteen or Sixteen in the first book? She IS a child. She’s a freaking out child who is flipping out because she’s suddenly discovered the letters she’s kept privately are gone.

Secondly, she’d now the woman of the house as Margot, her eldest sister, is moving to Scotland to attend college. Being the grown up is TERRIFYING. Even with a parent present, knowing you have to take over is the worst feeling in the world. To some it may be liberating and the jump start into responsibility others might need but to most, it can be a scary place.

Lastly, the only other real male influence and relationship reference Lara Jean has had in her life is Josh, (*SPOILER ALERT*) Margot’s, now, ex-boyfriend. Margot and Josh break up so she isn’t doing the Long Distance thing and no one is tied down to each other. Something Margot’s mother drilled into the girls heads and she’s trying to uphold that mentality.

With all of this going on I think Lara Jean is an incredibly well handled female protagonist. There’s even times when I think she’s handling things better than I would. There’s also times I wish I could offer her advice of ‘chill out, you’re making things worse, honey.’ Lol! So her letters are gone, her sister is leaving, her sister and the boyfriend broke up which sort of upsets the dynamic of the family, and in all of this Lara Jean still has to be the one to hold the family together while her dad works long hours at the Hospital.

Now, Peter Kavinsky, ONE of the boys who received a letter, I have to say I -HATED- him, at first. His pretentiousness drove me crazy! Everyone loves him, he’s a jock, he has a pretty boy face, and he has the hottest girlfriend at school. That seems to be a thing every book writer does once, though. They have to have ONE boy in one of their books thats a pretentious jerk that you wanna smack then later lover. Cassandra Clare did it with Jace, David Levithan did it with Dash, I’m sure there’s a million others. We love to hate them.
The one change I did appreciate in Peter that Jenny did was that he came from a wholesome home. Most books I’ve read with a playboy attitude family their home is a wreck. Peter has a little brother, a welcoming and loving mother, a beautiful home, and both sons and mother are close. Which is very important. Despite Peter’s ‘play boy attitude’ he does show that he knows how to take care of a lady. I very much appreciated that side of Peter and it made me grow to like him despite side characters acting, appropriately, to hate him because they don’t know the full personality of him.

I don’t want to go too much further into the main plot of the story because I think it’s just brilliant on it’s own. However, the drama that comes out of mailed letters wasn’t something I saw coming. I was fairly certain things weren’t going to go the way it was meant to go. You just have to READ to figure out what I’m talking about! GO! READ!

Jenny Han wrote this beautiful duology (soon to be a trilogy YAY!) from true perspective of  clique’s, high school nightmares, first true love, first heart breaks, and anything else you could want in a contemporary read.

I’m so excited for the third book, I’m trying my hardest to get the ARC if there is one. Other wise I’ve already pre-ordered the hardcover! LOL! And I have a UK hook up I’m hoping to get the version of since I have the first two in UK versions as well.

If you get the chance PLEASE pick up a copy from Amazon, Book Depository, Barnes & Noble, you’re local indie or any where else you get your books. I promise you won’t regret the read!

~B

Disgusted

I know I’ve been MIA. Life has just been keeping me sort of.. In the dumps and I have’t been feeling much like.. writing or blogging. I haven’t updated my Bookstagram (instagram) much either, despite the fact I’ve gotten SOOOO many books in thanks to #BooksforTrade & #ArcsforTrade on Twitter!

What brings me back today is something I am.. beyond disgusted about. Floored even. Raging, maybe?

I love Halloween, I really do. Even when my Anxiety tells me to turn and run away I try to fight it as much as possible. I love Cosplay/costumes and dressing up. It’s fun! You get to be someone else! You get to hang out with friends especially if they throw parties!

But what I saw today threw a wrench in my gut. Through a third party seller a certain retailer store was selling Asylum Straight Jackets, Suicide Scar and Razor Blade make up kits, Schizophrenia jump suits, and Anorexia dresses as COSTUMES.. They were selling MENTAL ILLNESS COSTUMES.

WHO..

DOES..

THAT!?

Even if the main retailer wasn’t responsible who in their right mind would think this was okay?! And why would the models be okay with it?! MENTAL ILLNESS IS NOT A COSTUME!! So needless to say I sent a VERY strongly worded letter to the retailer begging them to take them down. The community of Twitter was successful in getting the retailer to take it down and the retailer asks us to keep an eye out and send links their way via their official FB page.

But still.. To stigmatize mental illness as a costume.. just made me sick to my stomach. WHO DOES THAT!? Halloween is about fun. I get it but making a mental illness a costume isn’t fun. It’s making fun of someones sickness and that’s just.. not cool. That isn’t something that’s okay.

I will be trying to post more. Maybe I’ll update once more after I get over my revulsion.

Under Rose-Tainted Skies by Louise Gornall

If there was ever a book about Mental Health that was needed to read, Under Rose-Tainted Skies is it. I’m beyond blessed to have been granted an ARC. With how much this book meant to me and how kind and.. remarkable the Author is I will be supporting her and her writing from now on. There’s just no way I can’t.

As a suffering person of Anxiety and Depression for so long I’m only just exploring books that tap into the mental health realm. Upon finding URTS I don’t think I could have started with something better.

Synopsis: Norah has agoraphobia and OCD. When groceries are left on the porch, she can’t step out to get them. Struggling to snag the bags with a stick, she meets Luke. He’s sweet and funny, and he just caught her fishing for groceries. Because of course he did. Norah can’t leave the house, but can she let someone in? As their friendship grows deeper, Norah realizes Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can lie on the front lawn and look up at the stars. One who isn’t so screwed up.

 

Every person who reads this book WILL find themselves in Norah and/or Luke. There just isn’t a way around it. I know that is a common thing to say about main characters but when a contemporary comes along and really digs under your skin poking at very true vulnerabilities it’s very hard not to look at yourself and wonder if what’s being said on the page isn’t true about yourself. More than once I had to stop reading the book because as Norah explores her own mind in her many, MANY break downs, (because let’s face it, OCD and Agoraphobia is going to weigh and you -will- freak out now and again) I would reflect on my own anxiety and how easy it is lose yourself and only make your attacks worse.
       However, with the adults in Norah’s life and they truly give some very hard core advice on how to help her over come obstacles. Especially when it came to boys. Luke is a charmer. He’s funny, cute, and gets her but he has his own .. challenges, as well. Does it bring them together? In what ways?
You’ll have to read!
When I was reading URTS it felt more like a friend was talking to me. Like Louise was helping me through my own problems. Or, as if, she wrote this book FOR ME. Norah has a one parent home. Issues with boys and intimacy. She feels better off alone, but hates it at the same time. Most of all -HATES- change. It felt like Louise watched my life and just.. wrote about -ME-. I know hundreds of others will feel the same way. It felt like Louise was making friends with me, as well. Which is strange to say, I know, but that she was reaching out a hand to say ‘It’s okay to be weird and have problems. You’re still a person.”
So thank you, Louise Gornall. This book is something.. I will never forget.
I won’t go into the ending because, honestly, the whole book is a treasure and I will be reading it over and over again. I found it healing and something I will purchase in ALL forms.
US release date is: January 3rd, 2017.
I strongly encourage everyone to order a copy. You won’t be disappointed.

Reading, Your Brain, and Mental Health

It’s Guest Blogger time again!

This time it’s from @NLOAnxiety on Twitter. I think this post is incredibly important and really opens up discussion over the importance of reading and the connection with Anxiety.


 

Reading, Your Brain, and Mental Health

 

People are in a constant search for the newest and best of everything. What is the latest treatment for anxiety? What is the best way to feel calm? How can the latest technological innovations lead to a newfound sense of peace and tranquility?

Surely, there is great benefit that comes with pushing forward and looking for modern solutions to old problems, but there is a catch. When people are so focused on the future, there is a tendency to lose track of the past.

Then, you begin to ignore the tried and true solutions that have worked for so many over the course of not days, not years, not decades, but millennia. Such is the case with reading.

Reading is not glamorous. It is not fashionable. It is not pushing the limits of technology or advancement. In a lot of ways, it’s boring.

Despite its shortcomings, reading is a fantastic exercise for the mind that produces and strengthens the characteristics you are looking to build.

However, not all reading is equal. Reading a biographical account of a noteworthy historical figure written by a respected author is quite different than scanning your favorite checkout line headlines.

Reading a classic novel bursting with tension about characters consumed by unclear motivations varies greatly from clicking through an article about celebrities who look differently than they did 30 years ago.

To benefit from reading, you have to be reading quality material that is of interest to you. So, how exactly does reading help anxiety and mental health overall?

 

Gaining Information

 

Where do you get your information? Where do you get your news? What sources do you consult for pivotal periods of history?

There is a tremendous amount of information available in the world, which means there is even more misinformation surrounding you. Seeking out and reading valid and reliable sources will make you a better-informed citizen who is able to form opinions and make choices based on accurate data.

If you base all of your political information of what your neighbor tells you or what you read on a conspiracy website, you might be missing some facts. The truth will serve to diminish stigmas and prejudice others suffer.

 

Witnessing Communication

 

People with anxiety often struggle to communicate their feelings, thoughts, and opinions effectively to others. They just do not know how to begin.

Books are a great source of communication. By reading and noting the interactions between characters, you will construct a basis of communication that you can apply to your relationships.

Does the protagonist falter due to being too aggressive or too passive? Were their opportunities missed, or would the results have been better had they slowed down?

Great writers create characters who interact in realistic ways that you can use as a case study. You can find solutions to your problems based on their problem-solving skills.

 

Building Empathy

 

Therapists use empathy every day to gain a better understanding of who their clients are and what they endure, but an accurate sense of empathy can benefit anyone. Reading a story puts you in the shoes of the narrator, and chances are good that person is completely different from you.

This gives you a window into the psyche and thought process of another person. This experience can be easily translated to real life to provide a new perspective of the people you come in contact with on a daily basis. If you understand them, you can get along with them.

 

Reframing Perspective

 

Taken a step further, building empathy for characters in a book can reframe the perspective you hold for yourself. Too often people get locked into one way of thinking and one way of feeling, and this becomes extraordinarily restrictive.

People who have fluid ideas and demonstrate an amount of flexibility tend to be happier and more accommodating. Being able to see yourself objectively can lead to better decision-making, and it all starts from reading a book.

 

Boosting Self-Help

 

Fiction, nonfiction, journalism, and poetry all have a way of indirectly improving your mental health. If you are looking for something more direct, try anxiety self-help strategies from the self-help section.

This type of book covers most topics available, from ways to lower your depression, measures to boost your relaxation, and ways to learn a foreign language in no time at all. If anxiety is your enemy, pick up a self-help workbook on the subject and begin working your way through the pages. As you read and explore the experiential tasks, you can accomplish your goal.

 

Practicing Attention

 

Attention and concentration are skills that need constant practice to maintain and improve. If you do not challenge your mind, your skills will diminish to the point that nothing will keep your interest.

In a time where technology is constant and rapid, a book is slow, methodical, and trying, but it is completely worth the energy. Reading forces your brain to tap into areas that are underutilized with today’s innovations.

These areas are still important, though. A strong mind will provide for you well into older adulthood.

 

Applying Distraction

 

At the end of the day, sometimes you need an escape pod from your life. Reading can be the way you jettison away from the monotony of your life into a great adventure or romance as you jump inside your favorite literary figures to see the world through their eyes.

Your world will be waiting for you when you return, but you will face this world with new energy and a sense of rejuvenation.

Though the above benefits will vary wildly, they share a common theme: stress-relief. This is the central benefit of reading. If you find yourself in a stressful, overwhelming, and anxiety-provoking situation, take out your favorite book and start turning the pages.

It is true that e-readers, tablets, and phones will make reading more convenient, but do not underestimate the gratification that comes with turning to a new chapter or dog-earing the page you complete.

Accomplishment comes in all forms. One of the best accomplishments you can have is reading a book. If you do, your world will be a better, more accurate, and more rewarding place.

 

 

Eric Patterson, LPC is a professional counselor in western Pennsylvania working for the last 10 years to help children, teens and adults achieve their goals and live happier lives. You can find more of his writing on NewLifeOutlook.

 

 

Happy Birthday Cassandra Clare!

It’s the Birthday of the Author who brought us Jace, Clary, Emma, Julian, Tessa, Will, & James! Plus so many more! And to locations like New York, Los Angeles, London, & Shadowhunter home land, Alicante!

Happy Birthday, Cassandra Clare! I hope your new year is a great one with new ideas, new books, and new adventures!

Interview with Kendare Blake!

I got the special privileged to have a small interview with Kendare Blake!

If that name rings a bell it’s because of books she wrote: Anna Dressed in Blood, which is currently being opted for film, and Three Dark Crowns due out Sept 20th, 2016!

I’m so humbled at the fact that Mrs Blake was so willing to open up about mental health and her own personal struggles with Anxiety. So with out further ado:

Evening! I’ve been mulling over questions and how to do this interview for the last few weeks. Then I was conked on the head and ended up with a concussion. Ouch! I’m okay! It was minor, just put a slow down in reading and getting things like this done! I did a little research on you before I started this and I have to commend you on your pets names. Absolutely PERFECT! LOL! (Their two cat sons (Tybalt and Tyrion Cattister) and their red Doberman dog son, Obi Dog Kenobi!)
First for the basic fun stuff!
When did you know that writing was a passion of yours? So early on that I can’t remember. It seems that it stemmed rather naturally from an intense love of reading. Stories, stories and more stories, and at some point I began wanting to tell some of my own.
Did you have any small writings published in your local high school or neighborhood paper? Or contests? Not in high school. I never had anything published until grad school actually. I did try, but the work just wasn’t ready.
Did you read or write Fan Fiction? Both.
If yes, what Fandoms were your favorite go to’s? For fan fiction the only real fandom I got into was Harry Potter. And Sailor Moon. 
Now the more difficult.. 
When did you realize that Anxiety was possibly presenting itself in your life? Shortly before I got married, right in the midst of writing Anna Dressed in Blood. I didn’t know what it was then. I didn’t recognize panic attacks as panic attacks. I just thought I was ill.
Did you battle Depression thus exacerbating one problem with the other? No. Thankfully depression has not factored into it.
Was there a particular Anxiety attack that changed your perspective on your mental health? Or getting yourself help? (no need for details on what happen, of course) Yes, actually. I was at ALA, the big librarian conference, promoting…oh, it must have been Girl of Nightmares at that point. I’d just met my editor for the first time there, and she was with me before I had to do this thing called an “Author Tea Party” or an “Author Speed Date”, basically a gigantic room full of tables with people at them, and they start you at one table and you have three minutes or so to chat with them about your book or whatever and then someone blows a horn and you dash to the next table. It lasts about an hour usually. I’ve done quite a few since then, and often they’re quite fun. But the noise and the heat of the room got to me that time, and I had to excuse myself to regroup in the hall before starting. My editor was very understanding, but I was humiliated. Mortified. I’d been self-managing for a few years by then, but that was when I said fuck this, and started thinking about treatment.
Did you discover that writing helped your Anxiety? Actually I don’t think writing does help my anxiety. The two don’t seem to be linked that much. Though when I’m writing, like the physical act of writing, I’m never anxious. 
Do you think a book centered around a character with a mental health struggle could be in the future? (I’d be excited about this! Lol!) I don’t think so. At least, not centered around a mental health struggle. There will certainly be characters in my novels who struggle with different levels of anxiety, different levels of depression, narcissism, etc., but that will only be part of the story. 
Any tips for those of us who still struggle daily with Depression and Anxiety? What works best for you on your bad days? On my bad days, I medicate. When I go into a situation where I know I might have an issue, I medicate. And when medicating doesn’t work, I just wait it out. But I have no good tips, I’m afraid. Anxiety is a beast of variety and it seems that everyone has different ways to cope.
Anything else you’d like to add about yourself, your books, or anything coming up? Not really. Though I will say that I’ve never done an interview on anxiety before! As far as I can recall, I’ve never mentioned having it. But the more writers I meet, the more common it seems. Actually the older I get, the more common it seems. Both of my best friends deal with it, and so does my mother. Is anxiety some kind of epidemic? Because if it is it needs to stop. It’s annoying as fuck to have.
Thanks for having me by the blog, Bella!
THANK YOU for taking the time to answer some questions about Anxiety! 
It’s easy to forget that Anxiety and other Mental Illness can effect someone you love. It happens with in a blink of an eye. The brain is something not fully understood as of yet. Maybe some day we might be able to reroute mental illness or, at least, be able to cure certain kinds with things more effective then ‘here, take a pill’. Some day in the future! 
Thank you so much to Mrs Kendare Blake for the interview. I hope to do another one with her, perhaps, later down the line.
Look for other interviews with authors in the future!

Concussion

Like the title says for nearly over a week I’ve been dealing with a concussion. So thus the lack of updates and reviews on the blog.

I won’t go into the details of how it happened, it was really stupid and completely accidental. No, it wasn’t from doing anything of a ‘Here’s Your Sign’ type, wipe your stupid off the face of humanity stunt. It was just an accident at home that basically is laying me up for some unnumbered amount of days.

I’m alright and health checking out is the biggest relief. TRYING to get any reading done is a bit of a hassle as staring at books or any amount of phone or computer screen is very straining on the eyes. The dizzy spells and hair triggering headaches are very quick to come and go.

But give me a few more days and I should be back to 100%. Other than that I’m still active on my Instagram ( https://www.instagram.com/anxiousbookaholic/ ) since it doesn’t take much to post there if I’m feeling particularly under the weather.

I will return soon with a vengeance! Fear me! LOL!

 

(C) Image to its creator