5 Books to Survive a Zombie Apocolypse

Picture it. An unknown plague has begun to take over the world, slowly turning everyone you trust into green monsters who want to kill you. No-one is safe. Your one option is to go into hiding somewhere the zombies haven't found yet . . . and as non-infected carry ons (can inanimate objects be carriers?) are almost impossible to find, your bag space is severely limited.

You can only take five books with you.

Before you ask, this isn't the standard 'Desert Island Disks' version. If you want the Complete Works of Shakespeare or The Bible, that's one of your five. And you may want to choose books that could double as weapons or other things, to help with the whole 'I don't want to turn into a zombie' situation.

These are the books I would take, and I've decided to be practical. Mostly.

Book 1 - The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

There are many advantages to bringing the fattest book you have (and yes, I have the entire anthology in one volume so in this case series = book) to help survive zombie attack. Firstly, there's a lot of reading material there, especially in this case because I haven't braved The Last Battle yet for fear of tears. Don't kill me, Narnia fans!

Also, just LOOK at the size of that thing. It's so huge that huge isn't even a big enough word; although I hate to get blood on my books, I am more than certain that a blow from that could kill just about anything, let alone destroy the brains of a zombie.

Book 2 - The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

I must admit that I haven't read this book yet. I might hate it, but I will risk this because I feel like I would appreciate something original among all the re-reads, and also because I have heard nothing but awesomeness about Patrick Ness. There's diversity, too, apparently. So woo-hoo!

If you want to talk practically, then I'll have to do my best to be sensible. Forgive me if I'm sceptical. Basically, there's a lovely dust jacket that would keep zombie guts off it as I slay them mercilessly. I've heard a rumour that the edition I have - although I might have muddled up with the US one - glows in the dark. So it's sort of a torch . . . right?

Book 3 - Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

I need to force myself to read this book.

As far as I see it, reading material on islands is limited. If I only take five books, then I'll end up struggling through the first few chapters at some point, and after that I'm fairly sure I'm going to like it. Most of the books I've chosen would make good candidates because they'll take a while to read, and this is no exception: on a remote island, or cutting myself off from the rest of civilisation so I don't get bitten, I'll finally have enough time to devote to decoding the fancy Elizabethan prose.

Book 4 - Dolphin Song by Lauren St. John

Aside from the White Giraffe series being utterly brilliant and a true comfort read for me, this, the second book in the series, involves being stranded on an island with people you hate. If people you hate could also be thought of as zombies, I basically have a how-to guide hidden in a story that I like to read. Win.

The only problem is that my planned escape island is likely to be in the frankly freezing English Channel. I don't think there's any coconut palms there.

It is absolutely impossible for a Potterhead as obsessed as I to be isolated without at least one fix. This, my illustrated edition of Philosopher's Stone, is by far the prettiest of all I own, and it's my baby. You generally take your baby with you if zombies are overrunning earth.

You can probably tell from the picture, too, that this book is very large and very heavy. It's a little unwieldy for fighting the undead (that's what I have the other two hardbacks for) but I'm confident this has many other uses: I could stand on it to reach edible vegetation or employ its vast weight for juicing and maybe even levelling the earth.

But then again, it might not be that useful because I absolutely refuse to damage my baby. If there's a way I can level ground without getting it muddy, then let me know. 

So now you know I'm heading straight for a cold, unwelcoming island in the event of a zombie apocolypse. As long as you're not infected, would you like to come round for cake?

In the comments: This isn't exactly a tag, because I know there are a lot of similar book-island related posts out there, but what would you take? Where would you go? And how would you survive?
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Rare Species of the YA World

If you're a fan of Alison Cherry Books, then you'll recognise this post title. It's inspired by Alison's Mythical Creatures of New York, which is exceptionally funny and you need to check it out now.

The YA (Young Adult) world is a unique excosystem full of the weirdest species ever. People who live in books, not reality. People whose boyfriends are fictional. People who . . . actually no, that's mostly me.

There are even more species that are so rare they're almost extinct, and they're the most interesting - the absence of things (e.g. adults) pretty much define YA - so I figured that writing about them all here would be interesting for all us obsessed naturalists. Book naturalists who are fine with trees dying so they can get their hands on stories.

Anyway . . .

The Duology (Colloquially Known as the Double-Book Series)
seriesus duplus

Books almost always grow in threes, as with the seriesus triplus breed, or alone, like the seriesus nottus. Sure, there are occasional fours (seriesus quatrus) and even sevens (serius Potterus), but duologies seem particularly rare: there may have been a common double-book species in the far-distant past - we have few records - but unknown causes led them to extinction. Lack of food, or 'readers' (a technical term) may have been involved, or shrinking publishing habitats, but it is unlikely we shall ever know.

The Non-Romance Book
libro nonromanti

In the Adult Book ecosystem, non-romantic books are much more common than we in the YA world tend to experience, and that can be exceptionally annoying to all of us who get a little sick of the whole kissy-kissy charade.

Research has shown that non-romantic books are closely related to aquiline asexual animals (ooh, alliteration, huh?) such as the starfish and sea anemone, and are usually found in the mystery genre. Some forms of non-romantic book, such as the libro somromanti or book with some romance, can be found in the adventure and fantasy genres, but non-romantic contemparies are endangered almost to the point of extinction. If you think you may have found one, tread carefully. Non-romantic blurbs are often just misleading plumage designed to attract an alienated reader-mate.

The Impolite Author
authorus impolitus

To even the most dedicated researcher focussed directly on teen books, it is very difficult to know if only YA / children's authors are so brilliantly nice, but every single one I've ever interacted with over my fascinating nine months of investigation so far was just that . . . brilliantly nice. Authorus impolitus are so rare, in fact, that experts (okay, mostly me) have been unable to pin down a natural habitat. It is my considered opinion that they probably have castles hewn out of pure obsidian, and languish within on jet-black thrones while cackling as they throw reviewers who didn't like their books into dungeons.

The Polite Authors are known live on twitter and pretty much everywhere else: you can identify them by following the trail of thankful newbie bloggers (novus crazyus), as for some reason authorus politus love to make their lives easier.

The Non-Matching Series Cover
coverus nonmatcherous

The near extinction of this species is completely the fault of the hoarding bookworm subspecies, who tend to be very particular about the appearance of their books. Non-Matching Series Covers used to cover the YA book world, but they were relentlessly hunted and gradually wiped out through sheer bookworm outrage. Their natural habitats of our shelves - where it must be admitted they look fairly annoying - have now been all but cleared of coverus nonmatcherous in favour of new editions.

This is just one case that proves how potent bookworm outrage is, and how the YA population in general would be wise to avoid it.

In the comments: Have you read any of Alison Cherry books (I really, really love Red and For Real, personally)? And . . . rare species I've missed?
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Words for a Wednesday: The Diary of a Young Girl

I mentioned Anne Frank and her diary as one of my four 'superbooks', but it's really hard to do such an important piece of literature justice with a few paragraphs, so I thought I'd bring back the intermittent Words for a Wednesday to tell you guys a bit more about how amazing and eye-opening this book is.

She was a German Jew living in the World War Two years, and life was tough for her and her family. When the Nazis came into power, it happened slowly, but they began to commence what Hitler believed was the 'cleansing' of the human race. Jews weren't part of his Aryan, or perfect race, and that meant they basically weren't human in the brainwashed German people's eyes. So Jews were hunted down and killed in sickeningly organised camps, making one of the most horrible acts of genocide in modern history. Anne and her family were forced to go into hiding (if you'd like more information, this might be a good place to start.)

This book itself is absolutely due for a re-read, but after looking through some quotes on Goodreads, I can't help but feel like I'm back there experiencing it for the first time. Just . . . this.
"How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single second before starting to improve the world." - Anne Frank
Do you know why I love this so much? Because Anne acts the way we all wish we could when faced with extreme hardship: her hope shows one of the most amazing parts of human nature, the ability to keep your head up and keep believing in the simple power of humanity, even when it feels like most of the species has turned against you. Where many of us would descend into fear, Anne - a girl who was originally 'shallow' by her own admission - found a reserve of strength within her that I think some of us need to remember is there.

It used to make me think that she would have managed to change the world - and probably most of our minds - had she not had her life cut brutally short, but then I remembered. She already has. And to explain why, I need to give you another quote, because you're worth it and I feel like spoiling you lovely people today.

This one is from Josef Stalin, who we have to admit was not the most popular person in the world, but has a point in this case:
"A single death is a tragedy; a million deaths is a statistic." - Josef Stalin
The Holocaust was a horrible, horrible thing, and it wasn't just a million deaths. Six million were gassed in those chambers, and that's only the Jews. Almost a million gypsies, Jehovah's Witnesses and disabled people were killed too: it gets to the point when those numbers become so overwhelming that we can't take them in, and that's where Anne came in. She focused us on that one death, hers, and continues to remind us just what a tragedy Nazi rule was. It's people like her, stories like hers, who bring even the most horrible parts of history to life.

I believe Anne Frank has changed the world by allowing us to learn from the past.

Other people can believe other things about what she did, of course, because books are so subjective, and that's why I'd love to hear about your personal opinion. We need to talk about our histories, even the sad parts. We need to talk about them most - mostly because horrible genocide didn't stop on the 2nd September 1945. Vietnam, 1975. Rwanda, 1990. Violence in Darfur started in 2003, but it's still going on.

We need to talk about the sad parts because the human race hasn't yet learnt from its past.

In the comments: So . . . what is your opinion? And do you agree with the quote? Do we all have the power to change the world?
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4 Superbooks (To Save You From Your Reading Slump)

Firstly, I've been having a quick peek at my blog stats this morning, and it feels like this little corner of the internet is finally starting to grow, just a little. Slowly. Thank you everyone for reading and liking and commenting! I am indebted to all of you for all of your kind words, your support . . . JUST ACCEPT MY THANKS, OKAY!

Now, the post. I would like to discuss a certain bookworm's phenomenon: the reading slump. We often shame ourselves for not having a book in our hands all the live-long day - or at least, I do - but WHY? I feel like part of the reason reading slumps are such a big deal is because we feel like we will somehow never read again.

As the veteran of many reading slumps myself, I can assure you that this is unlikely to happen, but if you need further assistance, your wish is obviously my command. As a book genie, it is my responsibility to provide some saviour books - if you want to get out of the slump, of course. Sometimes it's really good to ignore the books for a while and get on with TV / homework / whatever else you neglect when you're caught in the reading non-slump (maybe talk to your family? But that might be a little too crazy.)

Okay. If you insist, I shall provide some books.

#1 - The Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan

I could go on about the sheer brilliance of Percy's sarky narration for days, but most of you are probably rolling your eyes at me because "come on Lara, I read all of them ages ago". I get that. But at the moment I'm actually recommending the side books, like Percy Jackson and the Greek Gods, because you get Greek mythology in Percy's approachable, hilarious voice. They're also really short, which can definitely help you push through a reading slump and means that you come out the other side laughing.

#2 - The Murder Most Unladylike series by Robin Stephens
I've always found murder mysteries and books about boarding schools really really good for getting out of reading slumps. Maybe that's just me, but I like how they're analytical and mostly plot-driven (although you'll love the characters too) so you can give your feels a little break. This is a murder mystery set in a boarding school. In the 1930s.

If you're anything like me, the idea of an MC from Hong Kong trying to survive in a slightly ignorant, traditional English society - and the beauty of that cover- should be making you do grabby hands. The Wells and Wong detective agency will solve the case of your reading slump in no time.

#3 - The Diary of A Young Girl by Anne Frank
There's no way I can talk about this trivially, because the Holocaust was a really serious thing and not a topic to be tackled half-heartedly. That said, I think it's really good to tackle a reading slump because it's more of a cultural study than a fiction book, and you really need to read it.

If you're in a bit of an uninspired place, which a lot of reading slumpers can be, I find Anne's words can help put events in place more than anything. Sometimes, we forget how truly lucky we are.

#4 - Anything by Agatha Christie
Trust me when I say that Agatha Christie is utterly and indisputably addictive. There are over fifty and if you're anything like me, it soon becomes a competition with yourself to finish. They're just the right length to finish in a day or two, and there's nothing like reading a classic to make you feel like a civilised and well-learned reader.

Don't forget the whole murder mystery thing, too. And old-fashioned gossip and all of that sha-bang.

I wish you the best of luck with your reading slump, bloglings. Thank you again for all the love you've showered on this blog.

In the comments: What books / other techniques have helped you out of a reading slump? And what do you do when it allows you to not read?
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How to Placate A Panicking Blogger

Bloggers panic. It's just one of those things we do, along with writing posts in our heads and trying to ignore audience stats (if most bloggers are anything like me, then we usually fail) and we don't mean to alarm the people who care about us. It sort of happens anyway.

I thought I'd use this, one of those rare moments when I'm passably calm - you know, calm-ish - to put together a guide. Blogworms, forward it to the people who have to deal with you, and as for the slightly worried observers . . . here are a few techniques that you might want to try, tailored specifically to the type of panic you're dealing with.

Yes. There are different types of panic.

The First Type - No-One Cares!
I've put the most understandable meltdown motivation first, just because I don't want to panic all the non-bloggers too: it's very possible that the world would implode with all the panicking and I don't want to be responsible for that. But this will be fine, in that we've all experienced that moment when we feel like no-one appreciates our hardest work - imagine this, but there are actual numbers telling you that nobody even glanced at your latest effort. At times like these, blog statistics can be more than cruel.

Symptoms: If your tame blogger is experiencing this form of panic, there will probably be wailing and doubt and cries of "why do I even bother?".

Course of Action: Get hold of some tissues. Approach the blogger carefully, preferably without being seen (this shouldn't be hard, as their eyes may well be blurred with tears) and remove any blogging statistics in the vicinity: these are probably what started the panic to begin with. Then sit with them, hand over as many tissues as necessary, and remind them that you care. Then go back for more tissues and repeat.

Other Tips: In acute cases, you will need cookies. Cake is also an option, as is pie, but you basically just need to choose a sweet treat the panicker will find tasty. Less major strains could be treated without the sugar, but it's better to be safe than sorry. We all love cookies.

The Second Type - Angst About A Post
If you're willing to put yourself in a blogger's shoes for a minute or two (I know it's scary, but we shouldn't turn you to the dark side that quickly) then post angst is understandable too. See it in your mind. You've just poured your heart out about a subject that really matters to you . . . but it's controversial. And people may be about to troll you online or shower you with roses. There's no way of knowing.

Symptoms: This type of panic doesn't always wait until the blogger presses 'publish' to manifest itself: it may become apparent even as the post is being written or even planned. Early-warning signs include nail-biting and a general stressed appearance, but you can usually tell that this in particular is the problem because the person will wonder aloud. A lot. If all these symptoms become more accentuated up to twelve hours after a post is published or scheduled, then you know for sure.

Course of Action: Most of the time, angsty posts will actually have a very good response, or none at all (refer to the First Type of panic above if you need to) so the blogger basically needs to be distracted until people's opinions start rolling in. TAKE THEM AWAY FROM THE INTERNET AT ALL COSTS. Get out the house, preferably, or play a board game. Just be wary, as they may access it still through WiFi hotspots and any mobile devices you haven't confiscated.

Other Tips: If the post does have a bad reception, be there. Listen. If they're having trouble deciding whether or not to take the post down, then you might want to ask if they still believe what they wrote - if so then there's little reason to retract it - but don't push. We bloggers need to come to our own conclusions sometimes.

The Third Type - I Have Far Too Much To Do
Bloggers have a lot on their plates, and most of us knew that was going to be the case when we started. However, there will be days when the blogger in question feels like they have to-do lists sprouting out of their eyeballs. I get this at least twice a week, but I'm a schoolgirl who spends far too much time on her homework and is horrible at organisation.

Hopefully, no-one's as bad as me.

Symptoms: In my experience, reactions to this panic source can be quite varied, and just because a person deals with it a certain time the first time round, that doesn't mean they won't react another way the next week. Sometimes, the patient may turn into a super-work maniac robot, trying to get everything done while in the grip of horrible panic. And nothing gets done well.

Other times, there's so much work to do that the blogger will become absolutely overwhelmed and deny the list's existence altogether. So nothing gets done at all.

Course of Action: If you're dealing with a super-work robot, take all the work away from them. Just do it. Make them write down a physical list of everything they have to do if they haven't already, and hand them the first item on the list. Give them a realistic time frame. It'll likely be done pretty soon, and then you can move on to the rest of the list.

If they are denying the fact they have to do stuff, make them do something. All that stuff I said about not pushing in the Second Type? Ignore me completely. If you know the person well enough, sit them down and insist, but if not, just mentioning it so much they're overly guilty might do the trick.

Other Tips: Whatever happens and however much they are fretting, do not tell a blogger that they should ignore their self-imposed post deadlines because they're not important. They are real to us.

The Fourth Type - What Even Are Ideas?
Writing three posts a week means having three ideas a week. It's one of the worst banes to my blogging existence, especially when I am ready and raring to write and yet my brain-idea-ninjas come up with nothing. Nada. This can easily cause a panic when the post needs to go live tomorrow and you thought you were prepared and-

Can you guess how I got the idea for this post?

Course of Action: Conversation. I know it sounds weird, but eventually you'll get your head round how your blogger is inspired and know what to suggest so the wheels start turning. And if you spout out a couple of post ideas that are clearly utterly ludicrous, then hopefully the patient will be laughing soon enough.
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Also ice cream. I find ice cream very inspiring. It looks like most panics can be fixed with some form of food.

Other Tips: FOOD

Wait. Wait! Did elements of it make actual sense? Somehow, I ended up being serious there, and THAT'S NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.

Oh no, a new way to panic. I'll see you on Monday . . . probably.

In the comments: Non-bloggers, we are sorry. Please complain about your blogger's panicking below and I can try to placate you too. Bloggers, what else do you panic about? And what pulls you out of those moments?
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13 Facts About Me (Because I'm Dreadfully Unlucky)

There are a few reasons I thought I'd use this post to tell you guys about myself. It's partly because I haven't said much about myself on this blog, partly because I was missing my GIFs, but mostly because, as a benign ruler, I feel a responsibility to let you know what kind of girl your overlord will one day be.

You think I'm joking. But you shall never know if I really am . . .

     1.   Yes, we all know it's cliché, but I love Harry Potter so much that I would break into Hogwarts if I knew its location. At the age of eleven, I didn't want to go to secondary school open days, because I was convinced it would all turn out to be a waste of time when my powers as a witch were announced. As of now, they still haven't bothered to surface.

     2.   I want to read 100 books this year. To some people, I know that's not a lot, but I have school and exams this week and all sorts of other fun stuff going on that prevents me from constructing a book nest. As of today, I am a whole book ahead of schedule, and that is good, but I can tell it's never going to last. If you need me on December 31st, I will probably be buried in books as I make a last-ditch attempt to make the target.

    3.   It is highly likely that I will never have a favourite author. Possibly not a favourite book, either, because I have reading commitment issues and there is no way I can just choose just one. Not when there are HUNDREDS of possibilities and PRACTICALLY EVERY AUTHOR is amazing and lovely and crazy talented.

    4.   Don't panic, but I have a strange obsession with forensic crime dramas on Netflix. Like, the kind which are based on real life and feature grainy shots of slightly gruesome evidence. Maybe you want to back away slowly now - this is generally a wise policy when dealing with me - but I do like a few relatively normal shows. Yes to Modern Family, The Graham Norton Show, and anything even remotely related to Arthur Conan Doyle (I'm looking at you, Sherlock and Elementary).

    5.   My favourite subject at school is English because I love writing. You also get ten minutes at the start of the lesson to read any book you like, pretty much, and that is my idea of heaven. No-one is surprised by any of this; it's me we're talking about, but hopefully you should be reassured by the fact that your resident book lover reads constantly and writes . . . sometimes.

    6.   On the subject of writing, I actually do write novels sometimes. I am yet to finish one, but my current W.I.P is about boarding schools and posh boys and poker. You'll need to forget about that now, because it gets worked on pretty sporadically and I've no idea if it's any good. Any hopes will soon be smashed, judging by what's happened before with other book-ish things.

    7.   Marzipan is the best substance known to man and I love it even more than chocolate. That is the end of this conversation unless you have any chocolate-covered marzipan.

    8.   In an ideal world, my books would be pristine, but I'm a hopelessly messy reader who wishes she wasn't. I have this horrible habit of eating as I read, because it's dinnertime and no this chapter cannot possibly wait half an hour. Which is all fine and dandy until something gets dropped on it - inevitably - and my inner book perfectionist makes me spend that half an hour mopping up spilled chorizo (it's usually chorizo), which just makes the stain worse.

    9.   Um . . . there are certain books I like to smell*, and certain ones I don't. Because it isn't weird at all to think that fiction books from WH Smith's have really bitter-smelling ink, and yet revision guides smell amazing. I don't need to read the knowledge as long as I take it in through my nose, right? RIGHT? (If not I need to go and revise for Year exams like, now.)
*Read just the bold and I sound like Yoda.

    10.  You knew this already, but I am weird and there's no way I'm ever going to be ashamed about that. Yes, my laugh is weird and I talk too fast and I regularly have spirited arguments about things that only exist in people's imaginations. That's what makes my life awesome and it's not about to change.

    11. I like to think that I'm quite musical, when the mood takes me (as in when I don't have my head buried in a book). It gets to the point where I literally cannot remember a point where I haven't been singing: I must admit that it's constant and more than a little bit annoying for everyone else, but I promise to stop as soon as someone tells me how. And then there's the loud, bad French Horn playing.

    12.  At least half of my t-shirts contain a Big Bang Theory reference. In fact, I'm wearing one right now, and you should be too.

    13.  And lastly, because I feel like I need to reinforce this most of the time, do not talk to me when I'm reading. It hurts my poor little bookworm ears and if I'm lucky I'll be reading a hardback, so when I do hit you over the head you'll be so concussed you won't remember long enough to file the assault charges.

    Okay, maybe that's an exaggeration. BUT DO NOT TALK TO ME WHEN I'M READING!

Now thank you for reading about me, minions. I'm sorry if I'm mind-numbingly boring, but hey, there was only one way to work out exactly how dull I am . . .

In the comments: You know what's coming, right? Tell me some facts about you! 1 or 3 or 5 or however many you want. It depends how much you're willing to reveal . . .
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Conversation Starters: Mental Health

Lately, I've been noticing a lot of books dealing with mental health in YA, and for one I'm really glad about it. Mental health is an issue that society in general doesn't tend to talk about that much, especially with teens, and frankly that's illogical.

We teach people the symptoms of common diseases so they recognise them in themselves, and when someone refuses to admit that they're physically sick, the people they love - or the people they encounter that day - make them go home and take a break. They are told to seek medical help if they need it, especially if they're a teen.

But just because mental health is a little more confusing, we tend to clam up about it. But does that make sense? Shouldn't we ask more questions if we don't understand something?

That's why I think these books are so important, because they allow teens to learn about mental health without having to feel embarrassed about finding the information, without having to feel they're looking for something taboo, and that's so, so important.

Books make things less unmentionable, open up conversations. And if you want to start talking - or at least thinking - about these really important issues, then I'd start with these five books:

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

Finch's brain is not like everyone else's. Some of the time, he's over-energetic, bouncing off the wall and changing everything. Other times, there's entire days - maybe even weeks - where he's basically asleep. He constantly contemplates suicide.

Violet doesn't feel like she deserves much life, not now. Not after her sister's was taken away. She's a blogger - they were bloggers - but now her words have dried up, and there's not much Violet can think to do except count the seconds until high school is over and she can get away from home. Maybe, that way, she has a chance to get away from everything else.

You'd think that putting them together would be disastrous. How it turned out is a matter of opinion, but this was the first book I'd ever really read that talked about mental illness so frankly, and it was an incredible eye-opener. And tear-jerker. And READ IT!

My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga

When I first heard about this book, I thought it sounded a lot like All the Bright Places - two kids, suicide, etc. etc. etc.

But it's not like that, trust me. Aysel wants to die because she feels like everyone hates her, and - well - I don't want to say too much, but people are more than judgy. It's awful reading her go about her daily business: she's so understandable and I relate to her because she's sarcastic and smart and means so much more than she thinks she does.

Then there's Roman, her suicide partner. I didn't say it wasn't complicated.

(When I started this, I was worried about it being a love-fixes-mental-illness-who-needs-actual-medical-help sort of thing, but I promise you it isn't. Just wallow in the ending and you'll get it.)

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

What I love about this book is that it gets the balance exactly right. Grace's mental scars are an important plot point, certainly, but the book itself is more about being thrust into a group of kids, half of which you don't know and half of which know you too well, knowing that any incident will probably cause an international incident. Oh, and there's a murderer on the loose. Probably.

Her condition isn't her whole character, either, and I love that. She's also off-the-wall and adventurous and just a little bit reckless. When she's not freaking out about fluffy pink dresses.

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne

Evie has OCD. She's properly been sectioned, and if everyone knows that . . . opportunities for normality are sort of limited.

That's why she's more excited than most about sixth form, where almost no-one knows about her or her crazy past. But normality is more confusing than you might think, especially when boys are concerned. How much has to do with her brain, and how much is just the craziness of being a girl?

This is #1 in Holly Bourne's genius Normal series, which is about how our seemingly equal world messes up both boys and girls in a lot of ways. The next two books are about Amber and Lottie, but I can't give too much away about how they know Evie, because there's the whole ruining-it-for-you thing. If there's one element of book rarer than properly represented mental health themes, it's feminism that doesn't tell you all men are animals.

Buy this book for its combined awesomeness. Bourne carries off both 'dangerous' topics (although they really aren't, let's be honest) perfectly, and I'm really excited for the soon-to-be-released sequels.

These books - and others, I'm sure - are going a long way to tackling mental health issues, but there just aren't enough: it's taken about a year of keeping an eye out on blogs, in bookshops and everywhere else to find these four. Metal health, disability and other diversities shouldn't be chucked into fiction for the sake of it, but that doesn't mean they need to be as rare as they are.

In the comments: Do you have any other books about mental health to share? And which other diversities do you think need talking about more in fiction (I'm thinking I might do some more posts abo)?
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The Disney Princess Book Tag

Revision has fried my brain to such an extent that I almost started writing this in German, so we'd better get on with this tag, which I stole from Soudha @ Of Stacks and Cups. Because, you know, there are princesses. Let's not lose sight of the most important thing here.

Snow White - Name Your Favourite Classic
It should be pretty obvious to anyone who's read Wednesday's post, but I'm OBSESSED with the Sherlock Holmes Adventures. A Study in Scarlet might be my least favourite because Part II doesn't involve Holmes whatsoever, but it's still the first one and still very interesting.

If you've seen A Study in Pink, S1 E1 of Sherlock, then you'll probably spend most of the time squeeing at the parallels. It's maybe the best part of reading Arthur Conan Doyle.

Cinderella - A Book That Kept You Reading Way Past Your Bedtime
Um . . . all of them? I have a terrible habit of staying up way past my bedtime the moment a remotely good book comes along, so there are many stories I could tell you, but the funniest probably revolves around The Revised Life of Ellie Sweet by Stephanie Morrill. I wasn't supposed to be up, inevitably, and I was huddled under my duvet, reading with the light on my Kindle case, and drumming on the wall with my fingers. The closer I got to the climax, the faster my fingers drummed.

What I'd forgotten was that we were at my Grandma's house, and Mum was sleeping in the room next to that wall. At the moment a twist was about to be revealed, I practically pounded it, and she came in, bleary-eyed. It was two in the morning.

She snatched the book from me and marched it out of the room, which was probably wise. The really weird thing about that was the fact I was rereading, which either means the book is really good or I'm a bit sad. 

We'll go with the former, yeah?

Aurora - What's Your Favourite Classic Romance?
Okay, so it isn't a proper, olden-days classic, but classic romance has a tendency to get on my nerves - I'm trying to find something I like, but it's a long process - and I always felt that the innocent romance in the His Dark Materials series always felt very classical. I can't give much away, because one of the characters isn't even introduced until the second book in the series. Let's just say I ship Lyra and {censored} with a vengeance.

Ariel - Name a Book About Making Sacrifices and Fighting for Your Dreams
Hazel and Gus from The Fault in Our Stars by John Green don't fight physically, the way many people do. Cancer has crippled them: it left Gus an amputee and Hazel utterly dependent on oxygen, constantly facing death and with only one working lung. Their bodies won't let them fight, so they've found a better way.

These are two of the most determined characters of ever and I am humbled by the sacrifices they made to find their dreams.

Belle - Name a Book With a Smart and Independent Female Character
smart and independent female character? Harry Potter is absolutely full of them! I know it's cliché, and a lot of people will be absolutely sick of my constant Rowling raving, but she's amazing at characters and most of the girls aren't obsessed with clothes and makeup. It's rare that a secondary
character - especially female - is as well developed as even the most basic of Rowling's, and . . . yeah.

That's why it's so awesome.

Jasmine - A Character Who Challenged the Social Conventions of His / Her World
Every single character in Juno Dawson's All of the Above seems to have accidentally devoted their entire lives to blowing social conventions out of the water, and that's the best thing ever. I just love these characters, from the anorexic girl who doesn't care about popularity (because everyone assumes people with eating disorders want to be 'in') to the boy who doesn't know he's gay - but everyone else does.

Don't even get me started on the relationships - every single pairing could be an OTP without even blinking, and AH IT'S SO SHIPPABLE. (And breaks expectations to the point where they don't really apply. That's amazing too.)

Pocahontas - An Emotional Rollercoaster Ending
*incoherent sobbing* All the Bright Places *sobs* The feels . . . *sobs*  Why - did - it - have - to - be - bittersweet? *more incoherent sobbing*

Mulan - A Kick-Ass Female Character
Cammie Morgan from the Gallagher Girls series can very literally kick ass, probably while negotiating a new international trade deal in Swahili and tracking you halfway across the world. She's not unusual, not for a Gallagher Girl, not for a trainee spy. 

Which means the entire series is full of kick-ass female characters, in more ways than one. Cammie and Bex might literally kick you, but Tina can put you in just as much pain through gossip blackmail; Liz and Anna regularly give everyone kicks up the brain with their smartness.

Basically, read it. Now. You need the awesomeness boost.

Tiana - A Book With A Hardworking, Self-Made Character
The girls from Dragonskin Slippers - not counting the bratty Princess Amalia, of course - are so hardworking that the amount of complaining they do is pretty much allowed. In fact, I'm surprised they don't complain more, considering how they left their families and everything they know to make their way as seamstresses, only to be confronted with a controlling boss, constant theft of their intellectual property, and a dragon war.

Surprisingly, they don't complain much about that last one. Whining takes far too long when you're running away from a thing that breathes fire.

Rapunzel - Name a Book That Features an Artist
It turns out that I haven't read many books featuring artists (not that I can remember, anyway: can you recommend some good ones?) and I just finished My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga, so I'll mention that. I just can't tell you who draws, because - um - spoiler!

[Highlight for spoiler] I love the idea of Roman's drawing so, SO much. The fact he draws Aysel so she can see herself the way he sees her . . . AWWW. [End of spoiler]

Merida - Name a Book That Features a Mother-Daughter Relationship
Leisl and her Mama from The Book Thief aren't biologically mother and daughter - Leisl was placed in foster care when she lost her mother at the beginning of the novel - but I think that made their love for each other even stronger. Yes, they struggled with each other at first, and there was some a lot of shouting within the first few chapters, but . . . 

It's very sweet and very interesting and I can't say much else. Spoilers again! It's horrid!

Frozen - A Great Relationship Between Siblings
Skye and Summer Tanberry from The Chocolate Box Girls are my favourite fictional sisters ever, not exactly because they have a great, sunshine-and-rainbows relationship, but because they are completely and utterly realistically messy. There's this whole overshadowing thing going on in Marshmallow Skye, and Skye helps Summer with her own issues, and through all of it they love each other, as well as their other sisters.

That's a real family, I think. They're not perfect, but that's fine, because they love each other even through tears, punches and screaming fits. Even as they're cursing each other for mere existence, they would protect every member of that group almost to death. Love binds the best families, even when everything else is falling out at the edges.

Hmm, that sounded good. It's a good job I just wrote it down.

Everyone is tagged. EVERYONE! You must do this because it's awesome and if you don't have a blog, leave me the answers to a few questions in the comments. I'd love to hear about whether or not you like Disney, too, and which films I need to fanperson about with you.
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