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Life Unaware By Cole Gibsen

Life Unaware By Cole Gibsen
Published 28 Apr 2015 By Entangled Teen

Disclaimer: I received a review copy c/o the publisher. 

Goodreads

SummaryRegan Flay is on the cusp of achieving her control-freak mother’s “plan” for high school success―cheerleading, student council, the Honor Society—until her life gets turned horribly, horribly upside down. Every bitchy text. Every bitchy email. Every lie, manipulation, and insult she’s ever said have been printed out and taped to all the lockers in school.

Now Regan has gone from popular princess to total pariah.

The only person who even speaks to her is her former best friend’s hot but socially miscreant brother, Nolan Letner. Nolan thinks he knows what Regan’s going through, but what nobody knows is that Regan isn’t really Little Miss Perfect. In fact, she’s barely holding it together under her mom’s pressure. But the consequences of Regan’s fall from grace are only just beginning. Once the chain reaction starts, no one will remain untouched…

Especially Regan Flay.

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Life Unaware was really really good.

Here’s the thing about bullying books: they are impactful. Of all the books I’ve read on bullying, this book is no different. It stands out enough to be different, yet the moral of the book is the same.

Regan is a bully. She didn’t intend to be that way, but she has her ways to getting what she wants. Regan is perhaps best explained as misunderstood. She’s sweet and intelligent, but she uses them as a weapon to maybe just slightly trample on others.

I really enjoyed Life Unaware. It was a really quick read and I loved that the drama starts almost immediately. Initially it seemed like such a typical catty-high-school-queen bee story, but the story later unfolds to reveal so much more. It explains so many of my initial questions and delved a little bit more into Amber’s back story.

I really like how the drama continues even towards the end. It made things less predictable and certainly more enjoyable. Apart from that, the whole Nolan-ex girlfriend story was just so brilliant. I felt so much for the characters in that period of time. It was one of my favourite part of the book and certainly one that touched me the most.

I personally loved Nolan and the dynamics his relationship with Regan brought to the table. I loved how he was willing to stand up for her even though they hated each other. His moral integrity is commendable.

Life Unaware is good. Personally, I feel like there is room for improvement in terms of the way pre-outcast Regan was explained / put forth. I feel like she lacked character despite being a supposed “queen bee” (or perhaps I am wrong? Correct me if I’m wrong!). Did I mention that Regan also has an anxiety disorder? I haven’t read much books with the main character having anxiety disorder so it was a little bit interesting as well.

Life Unaware is worth checking out both for its bullying aspect and also if you’re interested in reading more books with anxiety disorders!

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Anti Bullying Week: #AntiBullyReads Wrap Up + Recommendations

Anti Bullying Week has come and gone and no, I didn’t manage to read all five books. Typical. But, I did manage to read 2 of the 5 books in my TBR and on top of that an additional book the weekend before. I’m counting that. I really enjoyed myself through this read-a-thon and I’m so happy to have been a part of the Goodreads group and I’m certainly looking forward to next year’s #AntiBullyReads read-a-thon.

During the week of the read-a-thon I managed to read The S Word by Chelsea Pitcher and Thirteen Reasons Why By Jay Asher, both very compelling books about bullying done in very different yet similar ways. During the weekend before I also read the graphic novel Smile By Raina Telgemier which showcased everyday bullying situations in school — and its middle grade, so even younger readers can pick it up.

But just because Anti Bullying Week is over doesn’t mean we should stop reading books about bullying. In fact, we should keep reading, keep discussing, keep talking about it because bullying is still a prominent issue in our current society and hopefully through read-a-thons like these we can educate more people and encourage those who require help seek them, and encourage one another to be part of the solution.

Prior to this, I’ve read many books about bullying, many of them have been especially painful for me to read. Several of my favourites have been reviewed on the blog, such as: Wonder by R. J. Palacio (which also includes Wonder: The Julian Chapter, which follows the POV of the bully), Some Girls Are By Courtney Summers and Tease By Amanda Maciel. Here are some other recommendations of books that involve bullying (you can find these books and more all in the #AntiBullyReads group page):

Divergent By Veronica Roth • The List By Siobhan Vivian • The Outsiders By S. E. Hinton • Burn for Burn By Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian • The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian By Sherman Alexie

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The S Word By Chelsea Pitcher

The S Word By Chelsea Pitcher
Published 7 May 2013 by Gallery Books

Goodreads

SummaryFirst it was SLUT scribbled all over Lizzie Hart’s locker.

But one week after Lizzie kills herself, SUICIDE SLUT replaces it—in Lizzie’s looping scrawl.

Lizzie’s reputation is destroyed when she’s caught in bed with her best friend’s boyfriend on prom night. With the whole school turned against her, and Angie not speaking to her, Lizzie takes her own life. But someone isn’t letting her go quietly. As graffiti and photocopies of Lizzie’s diary plaster the school, Angie begins a relentless investigation into who, exactly, made Lizzie feel she didn’t deserve to keep living. And while she claims she simply wants to punish Lizzie’s tormentors, Angie’s own anguish over abandoning her best friend will drive her deep into the dark, twisted side of Verity High—and she might not be able to pull herself back out.

Debut author Chelsea Pitcher daringly depicts the harsh reality of modern high schools, where one bad decision can ruin a reputation, and one cruel word can ruin a life. Angie’s quest for the truth behind Lizzie’s suicide is addictive and thrilling, and her razor-sharp wit and fierce sleuthing skills makes her impossible not to root for—even when it becomes clear that both avenging Lizzie and avoiding self-destruction might not be possible.

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I can’t make up my mind about The S Word. On one hand I enjoyed it, but on the other, it wasn’t really that great.

The S Word had a lot of potential to be good, great even, but the execution was lacking and in some ways perhaps even too much. The S Word mainly focused on the suicide of Lizzie Hart and is told through the eyes of her best friend Angie. The synopsis looked promising and the book had a great opening and read like a mystery novel.

But the thing that kept The S Word from being great for me is the romance. Towards the near middle of the book it felt like the book has derailed off from being about bullying, Lizzie’s suicide and slut-shaming, but focused on Angie’s love and relationship with Drake and it put me off just a little bit. I found Drake to be creepy, with the way he behaves and his constant need for Angie’s attention despite no longer being together annoyed me.

The romance between Angie and Drake was integral to the story, it was important for readers to know how much Angie loved him and how it played a part in Lizzie’s death. BUT, it came to a point where I just quickly skimmed through it because I get it, y’all were in love.

Romance aside, I felt like there was something about the author’s writing that made it difficult for me to pull through. I don’t know if it was the attempt to emulate a real teenager, I can’t exactly pin point it but it was a little bit hard for me to enjoy the dialogue and the way it was written. Certain things felt a little bit forced, and others came off as awkward (case in point: Drake and the awkward way he shadows Angie…)

There are a lot of important themes in this book aside from bullying and slut-shaming, such as the obvious suicide theme, cross-dressing, rape amongst others. I think that despite the issues that I had with the writing and the romance, I feel like people should still give it a shot and come to their own conclusions about it. The book does shed light on many real life situations and can certainly start a conversation.

The S Word does have a good solid plot and the mystery elements of the book is fantastic. I would suggest you not be put off by the mixed reviews online, nor be swayed by the writing because the book does make a good conversation starter, especially towards the end — its got me gripped into my seat.

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Thirteen Reasons Why By Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why By Jay Asher
Published 18 Oct 2007 By Razorbill

Goodreads

Summary: Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers thirteen cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker, his classmate and crush who committed suicide two weeks earlier.
On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.

Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.
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Thirteen Reasons Why is incredible, horrific and sad all in one.

I took my time finishing Thirteen Reasons Why. Thirteen Reasons Why was difficult to finish — not because it was terrible, but because the stories were painful. Thirteen Reasons Why is told through audiotapes made by Hannah Baker, a young girl who killed herself. And through these tapes, she tells thirteen stories of why she chose to kill herself.

I felt that reading it slowly helped me absorb the story better, that I could really experience what Clay was expeirencing and really feel his heartbreak. The story itself is fantastic. The problems were realistic, and in some cases, seemed so minor, but you later realize the gravity each of these problems hold. I loved how the story intertwined with each other, and how each of these people mentioned in the book played such an important part to the story.

I love Clay, and I love that he was a character that was described by Hannah to have had no fault, and yet, you could see so clearly how he played a huge part in Hannah’s death. Some of the stories really made me sick to my stomach, particularly Bryce, and I think that’s how Hannah (and the author) would have wanted you to feel.

I can definitely see myself re-reading this book in the future and recommending this to everyone I know. It’s certainly a book that is important and should be read by the masses. I truly believe that Thirteen Reasons Why can save lives and open our eyes to the serious consequences of our actions and words, even if we don’t think it’s that serious or meant it. I’d love to read this again in audiobook format where I’m sure the experience would be even more heart wrenching. Poignant and important, Thirteen Reasons Why is a definite must read.

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Anti Bullying Week: #AntiBullyReads TBR

If you haven’t heard already, I’m participating in the #AntiBullyReads Read-a-Thon next week from 17th to 23rd November. Again, I highly encourage everyone to participate and start a conversation. You can check out my announcement post here with all the full details, including links to the original announcement post by Sarah. 

I’ve managed to narrow down my TBR list to five books from the list and I know it will be a bit difficult for me because I am in a bit of a slump (as always) but I think that the fact that these books will help to create a buzz and bring awareness about bullying is very encouraging and I definitely want to try and push myself to read them all.

I’ve heard nothing but good things about Winger, This Song Will Save Your Life and Eleanor & Park, so I’m pretty sure they’ll be really good books to read. I’m also a huge fan of Burn for Burn, the first book in the Burn for Burn trilogy and I’m super excited to see how the story progresses. And lastly, I haven’t heard too much about The S Word but I am pulled in by the synopsis and definitely curious to see if I’ll enjoy the book.

If you are participating in the read-a-thon, let me know what you’re reading and tweet along with me over at @prettybookmarks and be reading buddies!

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Anti Bullying Week: #AntiBullyReads Announcement

In light of Anti Bullying Week, the wonderful booktuber Sarah Churchill has decided to create a read-a-thon for it. As the title suggests, we will be reading books that are related to bullying and start a conversation. This issue is definitely something that I feel so strongly about and I encourage everyone to participate in it and really talk about the issue. To find out more information, you can watch Sarah’s announcement video and head over to the Goodreads Group for book suggests and to leave your TBR links.

I’ll be doing my own TBR pile in a separate post soon!

#AntiBullyReads Read-a-thon
17 – 23 November 2014