I’m a Master now + I finally went to the Highlands!

December 17, 2017 miscellaneous, travel 1

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What’s New?

The last few weeks have been really busy! Last weekend, I went back to England to go to my graduation ceremony, and I can proudly say, I have a Master’s degree now! The ceremony was really traditional, and it was good to see my friends who I haven’t seen since I came back to Germany a few months ago. The reception was a little rushed, but someone from my course organized a get-together in the evening, so there was time to catch up then. My mom was also there, which was nice.

Even though my graduation was in Newcastle, we booked our flights from Germany to Edinburgh, because it was cheaper, so after graduation we took the train back to Edinburgh. We had the entire Sunday, so we booked a trip to the highlands. I’ve been wanting to go for ages, so I was looking forward to it even more than the graduation ceremony. I wondered whether winter was the best time to go, but it turned out to be a fantastic idea. It was freezing, but the snowy mountains and partly frozen lochs were beautiful. We had a lot of stops, and not that much time at each one of them because it got dark at 4 pm (I do not like this about winter), but since it was so cold, it was always good to get back to the bus and warm up a little. I’d love to return in summer and go to Loch Ness though. Here are some pictures.
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Genuine Fraud

December 14, 2017 books, reviews 3


The story of a young woman whose diabolical smarts are her ticket into a charmed life. But how many times can someone reinvent themselves? You be the judge.

Imogen is a runaway heiress, an orphan, a cook, and a cheat.
Jule is a fighter, a social chameleon, and an athlete.
An intense friendship. A disappearance. A murder, or maybe two.
A bad romance, or maybe three.
Blunt objects, disguises, blood, and chocolate. The American dream, superheroes, spies, and villains.
A girl who refuses to give people what they want from her.
A girl who refuses to be the person she once was.

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Riverdale Recaps – Tales from the Darkside (Season 2: Episode 7)

December 5, 2017 discussion, tv shows 0

Recap

Vlora: Welcome to this week’s Riverdale recap! We had three separate storylines that sort of came together at the end this week. We’re also still keeping with the horror theme, as the episode titles suggest.

Bianca: True, but let’s ask the really important questions first: What is Betty Cooper’s future career? Is she going to be an investigator, detective, journalist or maybe the new mayor of Riverdale?
Vlora: Well, Riverdale could certainly use a new mayor. I’m not a fan of the current one.
Bianca: Me neither. She is such a helicopter mom (and she already used to be before all this Black Hood and death threat thing happened). She also pretends that her daughter is such a celebrity when no one outside of Riverdale has ever heard of her. I mean Riverdale is not New York! And in total, she is just really shitty at being the mayor.
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Riverdale Recaps – Death Proof (Season 2: Episode 6)

November 25, 2017 reviews, tv shows 2

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This is a weekly recap/discussion post of the newest Riverdale episodes brought to you by my friend Bianca and yours truly. Join us for fun discussions and theories!


This is obviously full of spoilers, so don’t read it on if you haven’t watched it yet or you don’t mind spoilers.

Recap

Vlora: We’re back! Slightly late this time, but since there’s no new episode this week, we’re not technically too late. I’ll let Bianca take over from here, because her memory is much better than mine, and I’ve already forgotten what happened.
Bianca: Sooo most importantly, since when can Betty fix cars?!? I mean great for her but she never appeared to be a hobby mechanic before and now she is suddenly able to patch up a car.


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Fast But Only Slightly Furious

November 24, 2017 miscellaneous 7

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What’s New?

A LOT is new. First of all, I moved into a new flat last weekend. I was living with my family since I returned from England, but I stayed with a friend in the city for a week at the beginning of November and suddenly everything happened really fast, so two weeks later I was sitting in my new room. It’s a flatshare, and so far it’s really nice, and I’m happy to be closer to the city again, because countrylife is nice and all, but not much happens, guys. I also found an internship while I was staying with my friend (it was a productive week), and I’ve already started that as well.

Things are finally moving, but all of that left me literally no time for NaNoWriMo, which is a little sad. I was committed this year, but it was just impossible to do it while working all day and moving on the weekend, especially because I’ll be working Monday to Sunday next week, as we have a big event coming up. There’s just no way I’ll reach anywhere close to 50k, so I’m throwing in the towel. Hopefully I’ll get some writing done the next weeks anyway.
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Riverdale Recaps – When a Stranger Calls (Season 2: Episode 5)

November 12, 2017 reviews, tv shows 1

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This is a weekly recap/discussion post of the newest Riverdale episodes brought to you by my friend Bianca and yours truly. Join us for fun discussions and theories!


This is obviously full of spoilers, so don’t read it on if you haven’t watched it yet or you don’t mind spoilers.

Recap

Vlora: First, the most important thing that happened in this episode: we’ve confirmed that Sweetpea is actually called Sweetpea, and it wasn’t just a random one-time nickname.
Bianca: I don’t actually care that much about Sweetpea, but you seem to care a lot!
Vlora: I just think it’s hilarious that this supposedly dangerous guy from a renowned gang chooses to go by Sweetpea. But then the only other nickname I can remember is Tall Boy, which is just the most non-descriptive, boring name anyone could have, so I guess the Serpents just aren’t great at nicknames.
Bianca: I mean they actually call Jugheads sister Jellybean!
Vlora: And I mean then there’s Jughead himself. We’re used to it now, but what the hell kind of name is that anyway.
Bianca: His real name isn’t better so we can just stick with Jughead.


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Weird Review Requests – A Review

November 9, 2017 fun, miscellaneous 11

This post has been a long time coming, guys. I wasn’t sure whether to write it at first, because I didn’t want to scare off any legitimate partners interested in my blog, but these promo requests were too good to not share with you. I’m thrilled to have my buddy Shannon from It Starts at Midnight on board for this post, because she has some delicious stories to share with you.



If you’ve had a blog for a while, it’s likely that you have been contacted by someone to advertize their product, whatever that may be. It can be a great opportunity for both parties to work together on projects when everything fits, but when it doesn’t… hilarity ensues. Shannon and I compiled a list of random promo requests we got, because sometimes what happens behind the scenes doesn’t need to stay behind the scenes.
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Riverdale Recaps – The Town That Dreaded Sundown (Season 2: Episode 4)

November 6, 2017 reviews, tv shows 3

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This is a weekly recap/discussion post of the newest Riverdale episodes brought to you by my friend Bianca and yours truly. Join us for fun discussions and theories!


This is obviously full of spoilers, so don’t read it on if you haven’t watched it yet or you don’t mind spoilers.

This week is going to be a little different. My wifi’s been broken for more than a week (I’ve taken refuge at a friend’s place now to escape the Dark Ages), so we couldn’t do our normal conversation-thingy like we usually do. Nevertheless, we couldn’t abandon you, so we found a different solution and each did our own thing. Next week should hopefully be back to normal!

Recap

Bianca:

New week, new Riverdale and again things happened. But let’s start from the beginning. Jughead must be the most overdramatic narrator ever. Is he still writing his novel (I thought that was only about Jason’s murder?)? And that librarian lady was so creepy and scary (I don’t trust anyone anymore!!).

Vlora: There’s no particular point for this gif, I just figured some people might appreciate it.



But more about what actually happened in this episode; Archie is definitely in trouble. He is legit going out of his mind. What is he thinking? And of course he can’t get rid of the video anymore (the perks of the internet duh!). In this episode Archie kind of reminded me of Harry in Prisoner of Azkaban where he is always like “Sirius Black betrayed my parents, I am going to find him and I am going to kill him”. I am really glad we got rid of that gun though. I am not sure what else could have happened with Archie being in the state he is in. He should also keep away from the serpents. That ‘gang fight’ they had was seriously not just a little beat up. Anyway, the serpents were especially dark this episode. Did that one guy actually call the Black Hood a hero? Is he aware that he is killing and shooting at teenagers?


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November Is for Writing Novels

November 4, 2017 books, miscellaneous 20

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What’s New?

Halloween is over, and my grandma is already panicking about baking Christmas cookies, so November is officially here. And you know what November means – it’s NaNoWriMo time! I had this whole plan of carefully plotting a new novel, so I’d be all ready by November 1st, but then Things™ happened, the 1st of November arrived, and I had nothing. I figured I’ll skip it this year, but like every year I just couldn’t resist the momentum of NaNoWriMo, so on the evening of November 1st I decided I’ll join in anyway. Who needs plots, right? Me. The answer is me.

There was a creative writing group at uni when I was doing my postgrad in Newcastle last year, but now I live in the countryside, so I had to get creative. The feeling of community and getting to know other writers is what I love most about NaNo, so I breached out and found some small writing groups in the area. By in the area I mean I have to drive 30-60 minutes to get there, but hopefully next year I’ll be a little better situated again. I went to my first meeting yesterday and got some writing done, so yay for that! I think one of the major reasons I haven’t finished NaNo so far besides being frickin busy is my perfectionism. This time, I’m trying to just get down 50k without constantly worrying that it’s not good, so wish me luck!

The Shiny

genuine fraud by e.lockhart cover any way you slice it by kristin carlsson aselin cover


I got these on netgalley, so thanks to Hot Key Books and Whicked Whale Publishing! Reviews coming up soon.
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Why Old Books Deserve 340% More Attention From You

November 2, 2017 books, discussion 14

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Talk to Me is an irregular discussion feature on this blog. It’s pretty much exactly what the title suggests: I’m going to tell you my opinion, and then I’m handing over to you, so you can let me know what you think in the comments.

Topic

Old books! Or should I say vintage books? Is that sexier? I haven’t even written the introduction and I’m already getting distracted, an autobiography by me. Let’s try this again. In the book blogging community we often focus on new releases. It makes sense – many bloggers (myself included) review ARCs, publishers push new releases, there’s a lot of hype around recent books and, most importantly, NEW STUFF IS SHINY. But what about older books? I’m not talking classics, which at least get some attention, but books from ten or twenty years ago (quick reminder, twenty years ago means 1997, what the hell). Do they really deserve less of our attention? Why do we forget about older books so easily?

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Riverdale Recaps – The Watcher in the Woods (Season 2: Episode 3)

October 31, 2017 reviews, tv shows 2

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This is a weekly recap/discussion post of the newest Riverdale episodes brought to you by my friend Bianca and yours truly. Join us for fun discussions and theories!

This is obviously full of spoilers, so don’t read it on if you haven’t watched it yet or you don’t mind spoilers.

Recap

Vlora: Welcome to episode three! A lot happened this week, so let’s dive straight in.
Bianca: How did Moose and Mitch survive??? How? I mean I would except the ‘Moose shielding Mitch’ but Moose looked way too good for being shot multiple times. Fred got shot once and still looks worse after being out of hospital for a while.
Vlora: I thought they were dead for sure. I mean the hooded guy shot them at really close range. Is he just a seriously incompetent killer?? Maybe they don’t need to be as afraid of him as they are? ALSO, your theory was right!!! The killer is going after “sinners”.
Bianca: That was the best moment! I was internally yelling “That’s my theory!!!”
Vlora: Yeah, I figured you’d be feeling vindicated when I watched it. I’m proud of you.
Bianca: Thanks! Let’s go on and talk about Kevin. He really got the spotlight in this episode.
Vlora: Oh man, Kevin. He was really important this episode, and I’m glad they’re using his character a little more. He was making a lot of bad choices, but I really liked that we got to see why and that moment he had with his dad at the end was quite touching.


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[Guest Post]: Rarely Portrayed Historical Events + Book Recs

October 26, 2017 books, recs 6



My friend Bianca is back with another interesting topic today: rarely portrayed events in historical fiction! Isn’t it interesting how some historical events always seem to be so much more spotlighted than others? I remember I was shocked when I watched America, America by Elia Kazan for university and learned about an entire genocide we never talked about in school. Or when I found out that The Republic of Texas was briefly an independent country in the 19th century – literally had never heard about that before. Bianca will tell you about two historical novels and the events portrayed in them in her post.


Bianca’s Post

The depths of despair – Rarely portrayed historical events

Lately, I have started to get into historical fiction again, especially historical fiction set in the beginning and middle of the 20th century. While reading I noticed that some historical events are portrayed very rarely in modern day literature. I really enjoyed reading two books about historical events I haven’t read about before and didn’t know a lot about. So if you’re in for some history paired with a bit of drama and romance (oh and a lot of death), here is what I have for you:
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Riverdale Recaps – Nighthawks (Season 2: Episode 2)

October 24, 2017 reviews, tv shows 0

Welcome to our second weekly installment of Riverdale Recaps. As promised last week, my friend Bianca and I will be here to discuss the newest episode every week this season. Episode 2 wasn’t quite as emotional as the season premiere, but we still found some interesting things to talk about. Enjoy!

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Recap

Vlora: Let’s get started!
Bianca: First and most important: Betty sporting a high bun! Where did the ponytail go?
Vlora: I have to admit I didn’t even notice, but I’m sure it’s very relevant to the storyline.
Bianca: Very relevant indeed!
Vlora: It is her signature style.
Bianca: Talking about Betty, she again was trying to save everyone and everything around her. Get a break girl, you can’t save the whole world. Also Archie and Veronica’s relationship kind of depends on Betty being their communicator.
Vlora: She did kind of save Pop’s, but, as Alice so unsupportively pointed out, she also somehow made it a place for drug deals?? And Archie and Veronica really need to learn to check in with each other without Betty telling them to.


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The Long Ride Home

October 21, 2017 books, reviews 0

I saw this book on netgalley, and you know I’m a sucker for roadtrip books, so obviously I had to request it. I was expecting a poignant book about life, loss and roadtrip fun, but I was a little disappointed. I enjoyed some aspects of the book, but overall this was not entirely for me.

the long ride home by tawni waters cover

After the loss of her mother, Harley can barely handle her grief. But the start of summer marks new beginnings, and Harley leaves for a cross-country road trip to scatter her mother’s ashes with Dean, her friend (with benefits). The two ride by motorcycle, reconnecting with people who knew her mother along the way.

But it’s not long before Harley realizes she’s pregnant…with Dean’s child. And as Harley learns that her mother faced similar choices during her own pregnancy, Harley must come to terms with her mother’s past to make a difficult decision about her own future.

I received a free review copy of this book (thanks Sourcebooks Fire!). This does not influence my opinion in any way.
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Riverdale Recaps – A Kiss Before Dying (Season 2: Episode 1)

October 18, 2017 fun, miscellaneous, reviews, tv shows 0

Riverdale is back for a new season! It isn’t the best or most logical show around, but it’s certainly one of the more entertaining ones. Season 2 just started airing and guys, I am hooked. I love the characters, which is a huge factor for me when watching a show, and the storyline keeps you guessing. It’s basically Twin Peaks: High School Edition and since the actual Twin Peaks bored me (the book was great though), an edition with more easy drama and likeable characters is just perfect for me. It’s super cheesy and stylized, but it’s so aware of it that it becomes art.

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Since I enjoy Riverdale so much, I decided you’ll get weekly recaps on the blog! I’ve enlisted the help of my friend Bianca, who you already know from Monday’s post. We’re both avid Riverdale watchers and love discussing the newest episode when it airs, so I figured why not take it to the blog. One of the most entertaining things about this show is coming up with theories about what’s happening and judging the characters for their actions, so maybe some of you would like to join in the comment section! Also, this is partially inspired by Shannon‘s The 100 recaps.

Since this is a recap, there will obviously be SPOILERS. Don’t read unless you’ve watched it, or you don’t mind spoilers.
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[Guest Post]: How to Make Yourself Cry on a Plane

October 16, 2017 movies, recs, travel 2



I’m particularly excited to introduce my good friend and former roommate Bianca to you today! I’ve collaborated with her on my dormant YouTube channel before (Socially Awkward and The Friendship Test), so if you’ve been around for a while you might remember her. She surprised me with a fully written post that fits perfectly into my Movie Mondays category (if you don’t remember it, it’s because I only did it like twice and then forgot about it, but I recently found the graphic again, so clearly it was meant to be). I really enjoyed reading it, and I’m sure you will too. Don’t forget to show Bianca some love in the comments!



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Movie Mondays is a series of reviews, discussions, and general movie talk. Get yourself some popcorn, lean back in your seat, and enjoy the show.

Bianca’s Post

Hello lovely readers of Vlora’s marvellous blog about books, lifestyle, tv series, films and apparently also about cake. I wanted to write a guest post on this little corner of the internet for years and apparently today is finally the day.

A bit about me: My name is Bianca and I have been Vlora’s roommate for most of our time studying for our Bachelor’s degree. I love reading, watching tv series and traveling the world. Oh…and I also really love penguins (you should do some research on them; they are amazing)!

This July I did a bit of travelling to South Korea which is an absolutely beautiful place. However, this blogpost is not going to be about my time in Asia but about the time it took me to get there and to get back home. A flight from Germany (where I live) to South Korea takes about 10 hours 40 minutes. That times two makes over 20 hours of travel time. And what do you do when you’re on a plane for that long? You try to use the on-board entertainment as much as possible (given that your airline provides on-board entertainment). I was really lucky and had many film options to choose from.

However, my choices were, let’s say, strategically not the best ones since I had to hold back tears for almost half of my flight to not make the person next to me wake up next to a crying bunch of both misery and joy. Because you don’t want to be the one explaining that you neither have fear of flying nor homesickness but that you rather just weep easily.

Nevertheless, the films I watched were all really really good, and if you ever feel the need to let it loose and just cry a bit, may it be on a plane, on your sofa or wherever you want, these are three of my suggestions for you:

1. The Zookeeper’s Wife

This 2017 film is based on the non-fiction book by Diane Ackerman and tells the true story of Antonina Żabiński, her husband Jan, who was the director of the Warsaw Zoo, and their children. During World War II the Żabińskis rescued over 300 Jews from the Warsaw Ghetto by hiding them in their empty zoo. Prepare the tissues because this film is not for the fainthearted. It has amazing actors and is very beautifully shot but it does not fear away from portraying the brutal reality of the war and the absolutely terrible conditions in the Warsaw Ghetto. However, what ultimately made me cry my eyes out was the portrayal of bravery and humanity shown by the Żabińskis and the other people who risked their lives and safety for others. This story is a beautiful message of hope and shows that compassion can overcome so much and even save lives.

Vlora: I can confirm this. I slept through the first ten minutes of the movie (I probably finished an essay the night before or something), which my friends told me was the happy part, and then bawled through literally the entire rest of it. I was in a cinema and not on an airplane, but still. It was emotional, guys. I second the recommendation!

2. A United Kingdom

Things based on true stories always make me really emotional and these stories don’t even have to be sad. The film “A United Kingdom” tells the love story of Sir Seretse Khama and his wife Ruth Williams. I had never heard of these two before watching the film but their story is just beautiful.

Seretse is the heir to the throne of Bechuanaland. After World War II, he studies law in the United Kingdom and meets Ruth, who he falls in love with. They get married despite the protests of their families and the British government. Many political issues accrue, and Seretse is exiled from his country by the British government. Meanwhile, Ruth delivers their first child in Bechuanaland and becomes more and more accepted by the local people. Eventually, Seretse is allowed to return to Bechuanaland and tries to negotiate its independence from the British Empire. Finally, Seretse helps to lead Bechuanaland to democracy and becomes the first elected president of newly founded Botswana.

It just always makes me happy (and therefore cry) to see how amazing people influenced the world. I’m always just moved to see what a privilege it is to live in a democracy and to be able to vote for what I consider right, and films like this one show what it took to get there.

3. Lion

Last but not least, I watched the beautiful film “Lion” which received six Oscar nominations including Best Picture. I wanted to see that film since it came out but never came around to do so. However, when I saw it on the on-board entertainment list I was so happy to be able to finally watch it, and it was definitely worth the wait.

Based on the true story of Saroo Brierley who, at the age of 5 gets seperated from his family in India as he falls asleep on a train and wakes up 1500 kilometers away from home. Since he doesn’t know the name of his mother nor of his hometown authorities are unable to bring him back to his family. Saroo is later adopted by an Australian couple and grows up in Tasmania. 25 years later, he begins to search for his biological family in India via Google Earth and ultimately succeeds in doing so.

I love films about family and this one has so much family in it. The love of Saroo’s adoptive parents for him and the desperation of his biological mother who didn’t know the whereabouts of her son for 30 years is both heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time. This film is definitely a tear-jerker.

So dear readers, now is the time to stock up on tissues and get watching! And if they don’t make you cry, you have at least watched some good films and maybe learned something new about history.

Please let me know in the comments about films that make you cry or experiences you had with the on-board entertainment on airplanes.


About Bianca

bio pic Bianca is a Peace and Conflict Studies student in Germany. She likes reading, traveling, and discussing the latest Riverdale episode. She’s active in her church’s youth group and has become very proficient at making flyers. She hopes to one day be a diplomat, or possibly a band member. She also let Vlora write her biography, so clearly she is too trusting.

Find Bianca

On Twitter: @stumblinpenguin
On Instagram: @b_p_k




Huge thanks to Bianca for recommending some great movies (well, I’ve only seen one, but I trust her taste in most things)! Don’t forget to follow her on her social media and let us know about the great movies you’ve seen recently.

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Shattering Stigmas Wrap-Up 2017

October 15, 2017 miscellaneous 4

Today is the last day of Shattering Stigmas 2017! What a great two weeks it has been. There’s been an unbelievable number of guest posts, discussions and reviews about mental health these past weeks, and I’m amazed by your general response and openness. Talking about mental illness isn’t always easy and sharing your own story can be incredibly hard – thank you all for being so truly awesome and supportive of each other.

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Shattering Stigmas is a two-week blogging event focused on mental health in literature and mental health generally – check the tag for guest posts, reviews and discussions around mental health.


If you haven’t been able to follow along, here’s a handy list of all the Shattering Stigmas posts on my blog:

Thank you so much to my guest posters for contributing such relevant, informative, and important posts to the discussion!
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Review: Under Rose-Tainted Skies (Shattering Stigmas)

October 13, 2017 books, reviews 7

This is the last Shattering Stigmas post before the wrap-up on my blog, and it comes from yours truly. We’ve had some great recommendations these past two weeks, so I thought it was time for a review! I was inspired to read Under Rose-Tainted Skies during Shattering Stigmas, and it came highly recommended by my blogging friends. I’m happy to say I’ve finished it in time to share this review with you.

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Shattering Stigmas is a two-week blogging event focused on mental health in literature and mental health generally – check back for guest posts, reviews and discussions around mental health.


under rose tainted skies cover

At seventeen, Norah has accepted that the four walls of her house delineate her life. She knows that fearing everything from inland tsunamis to odd numbers is irrational, but her mind insists the world outside is too big, too dangerous. So she stays safe inside, watching others’ lives through her windows and social media feed.

But when Luke arrives on her doorstep, he doesn’t see a girl defined by medical terms and mental health. Instead, he sees a girl who is funny, smart, and brave. And Norah likes what he sees.

Their friendship turns deeper, but Norah knows Luke deserves a normal girl. One who can walk beneath the open sky. One who is unafraid of kissing. One who isn’t so screwed up. Can she let him go for his own good—or can Norah learn to see herself through Luke’s eyes?

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[Guest Post]: Coping While Fighting The Stigma (Shattering Stigmas)

October 11, 2017 books, miscellaneous 6



Another guest post today: it’s my absolute pleasure to introduce Jessica Sankiewicz to the blog! She is the author of several YA/NA books and will be addressing the difficulty of coping while fighting the stigma surrounding mental health. Thanks very much to Jess for sharing – make sure to show her some support in the comments!



Shattering Stigmas graphic
Shattering Stigmas is a two-week blogging event focused on mental health in literature and mental health generally – check back for guest posts, reviews and discussions around mental health.

Jessica’s Post

As someone with anxiety and depression, I want nothing more than to be able to talk freely about mental illness. However, in a society that views any sort of MI as either a weakness or a figment of the imagination, that makes openly discussing it difficult. In turn, those of us with a mental illness tend to hide them, suppressing our feelings and making things worse.

I like to believe that someday we’ll have a more open society, willing to talk about these things. But I know it will take some time for that to happen. In the meantime, there are other ways for us to cope with the stigma we face daily.
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[Guest Post]: Shattering Sensitivity – High Sensitivity and Overstimulation (Shattering Stigmas)

October 9, 2017 miscellaneous 5



I’m very pleased to welcome Taylor from Frayed Books to the blog today. Taylor has a strong interest in mental health and is currently pursuing her degree to become a clinical mental health counselor. She is going to tell us about the high sensitivity trait and how to better deal with overstimulation in her post. Thank you for sharing, Taylor!



Shattering Stigmas graphic
Shattering Stigmas is a two-week blogging event focused on mental health in literature and mental health generally – check back for guest posts, reviews and discussions around mental health.

Taylor’s Post

Sensitivity.

You may think you know what this means, or what society defines being sensitive as. One definition defines it as “easily hurt or damaged; especially easily hurt emotionally”. And, while being sensitive does mean this, being highly sensitive means something completely different.
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