Top Ten Tuesday | Traits That Make Me Love Characters

Happy Tuesday, bloggers!

I wondered what I’d pick for this week’s topic. I thought I’d go with just one option, but I picked all three since they mostly connect together in some way.

Top Ten Tuesday, originally created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is a weekly meme. The next prompt is all about character traits I love/personality traits I love to see in book characters/things that make me love a character. Hannah from Books, Life, and Other Oddities submitted the topic.

I hope you love this post! Have fun, everyone.

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Top Ten Tuesday | Books That Saved Me from Myself

Happy Tuesday!

Now that I have some free time, I can get back to blogging! Okay, who else has struggled the same as me with this freebie? It took me a while to come up with my topic. But I think I’ve decided on a good one. 😉

Top Ten Tuesday, originally created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by That Artsy Reader Girl, is a weekly meme. July’s last prompt is a freebie. I am an advocate for mental health and illnesses. You know I hold them in special regard. So I want to highlight the books that saved me from myself. They’ve come to me when I was down or stumbling in life.

I hope you all love my choices!

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Beyond the Blurb | Why Mental Illness Rep in Books Is Needed

Morning, readers!

For the last seven months, I have struggled with my mental illnesses. And even though next week, my Mom will complete her final chemo treatment, I feel the utter power my illnesses have over me. And it doesn’t matter if I have coping mechanisms, which aren’t working anymore, if I’ve fought them before and beat them, or if I talk with friends. They’re still here.

But the only solace I’ve found is in literature. It always has been even if a reading slump finds me. Mental illness and health are prominent on my blog, and I want readers to find a safe place here. Although I’ve talked a lot about each topic, I haven’t shown why the proper mental illness rep in books is not only needed but desperately wanted from readers. Kal from Reader Voracious inspired my next discussion post, which I’ll examine why this rep is important. Let’s get to it.

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Review | Honor among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre

Published by: Katherine Tegan Books

Publication Date: February 13, 2018

Genre: Science Fiction

Page Count: 467

Rating: 4.5/5

Source: Purchase

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US | Book Depository


Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead of moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.

Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead, Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.


“It’s what I hated about the whole world, back on Earth. All the rules you had to follow without knowing why, and if you asked, you got branded difficult and damaged. Well, I am difficult. I am damaged.”

I have gained a new respect for YA science fiction. And these two authors are why. Honor Among Thieves is the novel I needed at this moment in my life. And I honestly wish I read it sooner. At first glance, I assumed this space novel would be more plot driven. Oh, I was entirely wrong. And I’m glad I was.

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Beyond the Blurb | How Blogging Has Saved Me from My Mental Illnesses

Since the #BellLetsTalk campaign, which draws awareness to mental health and illness, begins today, I thought I’d talk about mine. As most of you know, I have two mental illnesses: anxiety and PTSD. I wasn’t diagnosed until last year. I always knew I had anxiety since I was young, but I never knew I had the latter.

My mental illnesses are always present in my life. Something or someone may set them off. And I withdraw from life. Now, some of my blogger friends may have realized that I haven’t been around lately. As you read my post, I will be at a local hospital, waiting for my Mom to go into surgery to remove the breast cancer the doctors have found. I wasn’t sure if I’d want to discuss something this personal on my blog, but it has become an extension of me and my life. And maybe reaching out to other people who have dealt with this situation will help.

I have withdrawn from the blogosphere. And a part of me wants to apologize and say that my anxiety keeps me away. But I feel as if that’s an excuse. So instead, for my discussion post, Beyond the Blurb, I want to talk about how book blogging has saved me from my mental illnesses. I never believed blogging would do such a thing. But here I am, marvelling at how a simple website has given me so much. So here is how:

It Gives Me a Place to Vent

With my anxiety and PTSD, I feel safer in my home, away from the people and the society that have caused me so much anger, rage, and pain. I used to love going out at night, but for years, I feared to do that alone. But now, the night is when I add another post and talk about subjects that have provided me a platform to feel as if people will hear my voice, which is often quiet and unheard.

 

It Allows Me to Reach Out into the World and to Find New People

You may not understand how every single one of my readers and the ones who have become my blogger friends and family has helped me through my dark times. Just talking to me and reaching out have done wonders for my anxiety. For years, I refused to talk about my scars because I didn’t see the point. But the past is a part of me. If I don’t acknowledge it, how can I move past it? So knowing people are there who are accepting is uplifting.

 

Even If It May Be Stressful, Blogging Releases My Built-Up Anxiety

Odd, right? How can something cause stress help relieve it? Somehow, it does the opposite of what I thought it would. Blogging shouldn’t demand all of your undivided attention. If it does, then perhaps you’re approaching it the wrong way. You call the shots. So if I don’t feel up to do a post, I don’t write one.

 

It Shows I’m Not Alone

When you feel isolated, your mental health typically takes a nosedive. We humans aren’t solitary beings. Even if we crave the wilderness and the quiet away from society, we usually find our way back. When I figured that knowledge out, this understanding is when I realized I can’t seclude myself from everyone. I can see that mental illness is shared through everyone. And I am not the only person who feels like drowning sometimes.

 

It Has Also Enabled Me to Give Support Others Who Are Struggling

I truly find one of my callings in helping people. I may be selfish, but when I offer to help another person who suffers from anything in life, I know I’ve accomplished something. I feel empowered. So the major reason why I started Beyond the Blurb was to offer support to new and seasoned bloggers who need that little nudge in the right direction.

How has blogging helped you as a person and a blogger? Has it helped or affected your mental health? Let’s chat!

Beyond the Blurb | How to Survive a Stressful Holiday

Perfect timing, right? You may be heading to your in-laws’ house soon. Or you may be dragged to the compulsory holiday get together, but you want anything but. But mental health can take a nasty backseat when Christmas arrives. So how do you manage life with the holiday bustle? For my next Beyond the Blurb, a discussion series, I want to talk about some tips on how to survive the upcoming festivities.

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Beyond the Blurb | The Struggles of Blogging with a Mental Illness

I always stay honest with you, my readers and fellow bloggers. With my discussion posts, Beyond the Blurb, I like to bring up the tough and also hushed up topics, try to find solutions, and connect with you. You all know I have several mental illnesses. Yes, unfortunately, I have more than one. And I never thought they would affect my blogging. But they do on a constant basis.

This topic is rather personal. Mental illness will follow you even if you think it’s disappeared. And I’ve allowed it to control my life. I’m finding help and getting treatment. But sometimes, I struggle with mine, and I don’t always reach out to bloggers who comment on my blog or like my posts. I apologize for not connecting. I’m not ignoring you; I’m simply fighting my own mind.

I often find solace in helping others who struggle with the same problems. So here are tips to find a balance between blogging and mental illness:

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Wrap-Up: July 2016

roundup

In July, I found some memorable reads and some fantastic ones. I’m only eight books away from my Goodreads Reading Challenge! Woo!

The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah

A thought-provoking WWII story that explores the heart-breaking journey of two sisters who survive in occupied France. I haven’t cried so hard when I finished this book.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US

 

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

A heart-pounding and character-driven fantasy that is sure to captivate any reader. Sabaa has a rare and upcoming talent that I hope will enchant me even more. I simply adore her debut novel. Her characters are one the best I’ve seen in years. I can live in her book for weeks!

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US

 

The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

I can’t ask more from Kelley. She sure knows how to write a suspenseful and action-packed thriller. I love how Kelley brings out the psychologist in her. Her ability to address mental illness is superb.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US

 

The Unquiet Past by Kelley Armstrong

A great Canadian read from my favourite author. This novel has a sprinkle of mystery, suspense, and supernatural. I love the banter between the two main characters.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US

 

Betrayals by Kelley Armstrong

A heart-wrenching fantasy that will not let you go! Kelley excels in her fantasy worlds. She is a master in her craft. I’m in love with this Cainsville series. I was not expecting this ending. Wow, I’m blown away. I can’t wait until Rituals is out!

Kelley’s fourth book in the Cainsville series will be out on August 9. You can also find the first five chapters here.

⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ (4.5 actually)

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CAN | Amazon US

 

Mini Review: The Masked Truth and The Unquiet Past by Kelley Armstrong

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24733600The Unquiet Past by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Orca Book Publishers

Publication Date: October 13, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Contemporary, Thriller

Extent: 352 pages

Rating: 3/5


Riley Vasquez is haunted by the brutal murder of the couple she was babysitting for. Max Cross is suffering under the shadow of a life-altering diagnosis he doesn’t dare reveal. The last thing either of them wants is to spend a weekend away at a therapy camp alongside five other teens with “issues.” But that’s exactly where they are when three masked men burst in to take the group hostage. The building has no windows. The exits are sealed shut. Their phones are gone. And their captors are on a killing spree. Riley and Max know that if they can’t get out, they’ll be next—but they’re about to discover that even escape doesn’t equal freedom.


Therapy camp, murder, and teen mental illness? Sign me up! Surprisingly, I enjoyed reading this novel. I had no high expectations, but I savoured the easy read and fast-paced action in The Masked Truth. It does take a foreign path I’m not accustomed to with Kelley, so I wasn’t expecting to be hooked so quickly.

With The Masked Truth, you get to see Kelley’s other side. She studied for a degree in psychology before she became an author, and her experience shows through in her writing. How Kelley addresses mental illness––especially schizophrenia and PTSD––in youth is what sparked my interest.

This book reminds me of Kelley’s Darkest Powers and Darkness Rising series, but without the fantasy. Riley is a relatable teen who witnesses a brutal crime that causes her to attend this deadly therapy retreat, and Max is a teenage boy who simply cannot accept his diagnosis (I know I couldn’t, especially with my family connection to his illness). Both work great as a team, and I enjoyed both POVs.

Two negatives are Max’s obsession to continuously make out and his tendency to wander. I get why he’s intrigued by Riley, but I believe your life has a higher priority than kissing her, even if she is cute. And now I sound old. Great. Anyways, Kelley took a chance with this standalone book, and while there were some rough edges, The Masked Truth is a fun read.

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CA | Amazon US


003188_1163d3ae7b517100f7d7003e0c15cb18The Masked Truth by Kelley Armstrong

Published by: Doubleday Canada

Publication Date: September 29, 2015

Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Supernatural, Mystery

Extent: 264 pages

Rating: 3/5


Tess has always been tormented by waking visions that make her question her sanity. When the orphanage she lives in burns down, she decides to face her fears and find out once and for all what is wrong with her. She believes the truth must lie with her parents, and so, armed with only an address and phone number, Tess travels to a crumbling mansion in rural Quebec, where she discovers evidence of mistreatment of mental patients. She also makes an unlikely ally and gradually unearths her family’s sad history—and finally accepts the truth about her paranormal powers.


When Kelley brings Canadiana to her work, especially setting her book in Canada, I am eager to get my hands on it. I don’t always see Canadian settings. Don’t get me wrong; I love other countries, but when I know which city or town authors write about, I’m thrilled to immerse myself in their work.

This book is a part of the Secrets series from Orca Book Publishers. I’m not intrigued by all the books in Secrets, but I’m interested in a few: Stones on a Grave by Kathy Kacer, My Life before Me by Norah McClintock, and Innocent by Eric Walters.

This book also deals with mental illness but is sprinkled with some suspense and supernatural undertones. At first, Tess annoyed me a little, especially when she doesn’t listen to her instincts. But I grew to like her, though. I enjoyed her character’s growth and the banter she has with Jackson. Both have an interesting bond. But I felt that the ending was rushed. The Unquiet Past is a quick and compelling read. I wish Kelley fleshed out the ending, though. The rating would be different. Overall, it was a nice read.

Goodreads | Indigo | Amazon CA | Amazon US