Review: What I Lost – Alexandra Ballard

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Genre: Contemporary, YA

Publication Date: June 6th 2017 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Format: Hardcover copy I purchased myself. 

What sixteen-year-old Elizabeth has lost so far: forty pounds, four jean sizes, a boyfriend, and her peace of mind. As a result, she’s finally a size zero. She’s also the newest resident at Wallingfield, a treatment center for girls like her—girls with eating disorders. Elizabeth is determined to endure the program so she can go back home, where she plans to start restricting her food intake again. She’s pretty sure her mom, who has her own size 0 obsession, needs treatment as much as she does. Maybe even more. Then Elizabeth begins receiving mysterious packages. Are they from her ex-boyfriend, a secret admirer, or someone playing a cruel trick?

(From goodreads.com)


Content warnings: eating disorders (very detailed descriptions, weight talk etc), self-harm, anxiety, depression, mental health. 

Holy crap this book. I don’t know if I just picked it up at the right time or what but it just resonated with me and I loved it. It’s raw and unfiltered but honestly just brilliant. That ending. The ending was what I needed to read, put it that way. No spoilers, don’t worry!

I loved the growth of Elizabeth as the story progresses. We hear her thoughts change and develop as time goes on, and what she learns in the process. I loved this. Nothing felt forced, she didn’t magically get better, it was real. It felt real. I have no experience of inpatient ED treatment so cannot comment on that aspect specifically, but her thought processes nonetheless felt genuine.

The friendships she made were so so beautiful and I loved each and every one of her friends. SHE HAD GOOD FRIENDS. I swear there are so many books out there which focus on mental health where the friends are just absent, but I loved her friends here. It was such a wonderful addition to the story that she still had contact with her friends from school. 

The mystery packages added an extra dimension to the story which held my interest but didn’t overshadow the main focus (Elizabeth’s recovery) which I did initially worry would happen. I loved the outcome, but will say no more about it. 

The focus on family was extremely well done too; everyone’s situation was different but shown with empathy and they felt genuine. No perfect families were included, and I couldn’t be more grateful. Everyone has their own struggles and it takes a lot for someone to recognise theirs and this was explored a lot throughout this novel. 

This review is one long gushing mess, and for that, I apologise. As long as it’s safe for you to do so, I strongly encourage you to pick this one up! I hadn’t heard of it before I stumbled upon it on Amazon, but it’s so, so worth a read. The representation (from my experience – though I don’t want to go into that too much) is extremely well done and I cannot recommend this book enough if you want a book about eating disorders. 

Rating: 5 / 5 🌟 

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Book Unhaul – Round Three

And here I bring you my third unhaul of the summer. Considering I never really get rid of books, I’m doing exceptionally well I’d say!

They are all for sale on my depop shop, but if you’re interested but don’t have depop, feel free to leave a comment or message me on Instagram (@bookographic) or Twitter (@nats_cotterill).

  • Ketchup Clouds – Annabel Pitcher
  • My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece – Annabel Pitcher
  • Ashes – Ilsa J. Bick
  • One Day – David Nicholls
  • A Long Way Down – Nick Hornby
  • After the Quake – Haruki Murakami
  • Relativity – Antonia Hayes
  • The Five People You Meet in Heaven – Mitch Albom
  • Legend, Prodigy, and Champion – Marie Lu
  • The Girl With All the Gifts – M. R. Carey
  • The Bookshop – Penelope Fitzgerald
  • Orbiting Jupiter – Gary D. Schmidt
  • The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer – Michelle Hodkin
  • Zac & Mia – A. J. Betts
  • The Letter – Katheryn Hughes
  • The Woman Who Went to Bed For a Year – Sue Townsend

 

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A Post of Rambling Thoughts

I just felt like writing this post, though I have no clue where it is going to go. I’m unwell; after about two years of no major flares, my autoimmune condition has decided to rear its head again and I’m feeling all round a bit meh.

I’ve been in a weird mood all day: floating through motions but refreshing every social media site in the hope of someone saying something or something happening. I don’t know what. I don’t think I even care.

Days like this are tough. On the outside I look absolutely fine, but I’m, well, not. It could be nothing; I could be worrying about something that will be completely gone tomorrow morning and I’ll get up, go to the gym and feel great. Or I could need prescription strength painkillers to simply walk out of my room. At this point, I don’t know, and that’s the worst bit.

I guess one way of describing it is like the feeling you get when you’re coming down with a cold. You mentally note to add more tissues to your bag and stock up on flu medicine. Except it’s worse. Because a cold is normal – I can say to someone ‘oh I have a cold’ and they get it. When I say ‘I have a crap immune system’ they go ‘same’. But what I mean is every so often it literally attacks itself, but hey. It’s easier just to nod.

‘You don’t look ill’ is always a classic. I remember someone saying that to me when they came around to my house with my boyfriend at the time to drop off some work, as I was off school for two weeks after an entire summer of being stuck inside, ill. I feel embarrassed explaining, so I don’t. But then I feel embarrassed when I don’t.

With something like this, and I guess it’s similar for many chronic illnesses though I’m only talking about myself here as everyone is different, a mental note to add a packet of tissues or paracetamol to my bag isn’t enough. During one flare I made it around my uni applicant day, I even made it into school (though it was sixth form and I was doing half days and mum bless her came and picked me up / dropped me off). After that applicant day though, I couldn’t move for three days straight. That’s what I need to prepare for.

A week tomorrow, I’m supposed to be heading back to university. I’ll be driving myself, which leads me with my first issue: do I want to drive for three hours pumped full of various medicines? Medicines that make me so sleepy one consultant even asked how I managed to stay awake in the day (energy drinks and caffeine – lots of caffeine. And naps). Then there’s the question of how I will actually cope alone at uni – I’ve never been on my own for a flare before, all the little jobs that I am simply unable to do are done by my mum.

I guess I’m writing this post as it’s a way of getting thoughts out without burdening or ranting at anyone in particular. I don’t seek sympathy, just a place to exercise my thoughts. If this does end up as a full flare, I’ve been through worse ones.

If you’ve made it this far, I can only thank you, and maybe hope you’ve taken something from it.

So I’m going to plan a reading list or something, maybe reread a favourite book to lift my mood. If you have any recommendations of books that talk about chronic illness – maybe have the main character with something, for example – please let me know! I’d prefer YA, but anything is okay really. ☺️

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September TBR 2018

I realise, in spite of a good start to the month, I’ve been a bit absent in my posts. I mean, there are several reasons why that I don’t really want to go into too much (just know that struggling with mental health is absolutely exhausting) and also that so far in August, I’ve read 15 books. FIFTEEN. That’s a new record for me, I’m so proud. This summer I’ve got my Goodreads goal from 19 books behind schedule to 4. How, I don’t know.

September is going to be a strange month I think, I’m not too sure what to expect in terms of time I can spend reading. I’ll be going back to uni, and there’s all the generic admin / catching up / initial reading / appointments / packing that come with that, and I’ve got various things planned as well.

And I need to finish the first draft of my dissertation. Crap.

So, in short, I don’t know how many books I’ll get to, and I’ve been so much of a mood reader recently (more than normal I guess) that it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what I’ll get to in September, so I’ve listed a few that I’d like to get to sooner rather than later. The first two books on this list are for uni though, so those are a given.

  • Journals – R. F. Langley
  • Complete Poems – R. F. Langley
  • Girl Made of Stars – Ashley Herring Blake
  • Emergency Contact – Mary H. K. Choi
  • Crown of Midnight – Sarah J. Maas (I’m feeling like trying to pick one up every month from this series)
  • Marlena – Julie Buntin
  • The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender – Leslye Walton (After reading The Price Guide to the Occult in August and adoring it, it’s about time I picked this one up!)
  • Only Love Can Break Your Heart – Katherine Webber
  • All These Beautiful Strangers – Elizabeth Klehfoth (I’m really enjoying thrillers at the moment for some reason)
  • Neverworld Wake – Marisha Pessl

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Book Unhaul – Round Two

So I’ve got the bug now and I’m going through all of the books in my house. I haven’t had a clear out in the longest time, hence why there are so many! I thought I’d do a second post with all of the ones that I’ve added to my depop shop since.

https://www.depop.com/nataliecotterill

  • Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief – Rick Riordan
  • Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – Jesse Andrews
  • The Rest of Us Just Live Here – Patrick Ness
  • The Hostage, The Rescue, Hunted (The Medusa Project) – Sophie McKenzie
  • Blood Ties and Blood Ransom – Sophie McKenzie
  • Dragon Rider – Cornelia Funke
  • Before I Die – Jenny Downham
  • The Electra Brown series – Helen Bailey (5 books)
  • Carbonel the Prince of Cats, and The Kingdom of Carbonel – Barabara Sleigh
  • Kelly Ann trilogy – Liz Rettig
  • Where We Are – One Direction
  • The Saga of Darren Shan – Darren Shan (6 books as some are volumes)
  • Love and Kisses, Star Crazy Me!, Fortune Cookie, Ice Lolly – Jean Ure
  • Underworld – Cathy Macphail
  • Breathing Underwater – Julia Green
  • Secrets at St Jude’s Series – Carmen Reid (4 books)
  • Newes From the Dead – Mary Hooper
  • The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time – Mark Haddon
  • Go Set a Watchman – Harper Lee
  • Girl Online – Zoe Sugg
  • The 5th Wave – Rick Yancey

That’s another 42 spaces created in my house (undoubtedly for more books). A clear out this big and thorough has been a long time coming I think, I mean the fact that I’m selling a load of books I grew out of years ago says it all! 😂

I’m Unhauling Books!

I’ve finally had a sort out of all my old books and I’m getting rid of so many! Admittedly, a load of them are children’s books I should’ve parted with a long time ago, but never mind. Most of them are up for sale on my depop now, but if you don’t have an account on there and see something you’re interested in, just let me know either on twitter (@nats_cotterill) or in the comments on here. I’m just going to get listing as there are a lot!

  • Landline – Rainbow Rowell
  • Lobsters – Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower – Stephen Chbosky
  • Maybe One Day – Melissa Kantor
  • Two Boys Kissing – David Levithan
  • Everyday – David Levithan
  • All the Bright Places – Jennifer Niven
  • Matched – Allie Condie
  • Gone – Michael Grant
  • The Vampire Diaries books 1-5 – L. J. Smith (three books in total as two include two books!)
  • The Black Book of Secrets – F. E. Higgins
  • Girl, Missing – Sophie McKenzie
  • The ‘All About Eve’ trilogy – Sophie McKenzie
  • I Was Jane Austen’s Best Friend – Cora Harrison
  • Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between – Jennifer E. Smith
  • The Geography of You and Me – Jennifer E. Smith
  • Uglies – Scott Westerfeld
  • Pretties – Scott Westerfeld
  • Splendour – Anna Godbersen
  • Small Steps – Louis Sachar
  • Kisses for Lula – Samantha Mackintosh
  • 13 Little Blue Envelopes – Maureen Johnson
  • Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – J. K. Rowling
  • The Spiderwick Chronicles – Tony Diterlizzi and Holly Black (five books!)
  • Noughts and Crosses series – Malorie Blackman (four books!)
  • Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock – Matthew Quick
  • Illuminae – Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
  • The Vampire Academy series – Richelle Mead (six books!)
  • Tender – Eve Ainsworth
  • Midnight Sun – Trish Cook
  • If I Stay – Gayle Foreman
  • Stargazing for Beginners – Jenny McLachlan
  • Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist – Rachel Cohn and David Levithan
  • The Return of the Soldier – Rebecca West
  • Sir Thomas More – Multiple authors
  • The Devil Wears Prada – Lauren Weisberger
  • The Husband’s Secret – Liane Moriarty
  • The Vicar of Wakefield – Oliver Goldsmith
  • On Chesil Beach – Ian McEwan
  • Notes on a Scandal – Zoë Heller
  • Lolly Willowes – Sylvia Townsend Warner
  • The Graduate – Charles Webb
  • Books 1-4 of the Gallagher Girls series – All Carter
  • Me Before You – Jojo Moyes
  • Awful Auntie – David Walliams
  • Ingo – Helen Dunmore
  • Remember Me volumes 1&2 – Christopher Pick
  • Chain Letter – Christopher Pike
  • Withering Tights – Louise Rennison
  • Infinite Sky – Rebecca Maizel
  • Carrie’s War – Nina Bawden
  • The Sealed Letter – Emma Donoghue
  • L’Auberge – Julia Stagg
  • Confessions of an English Opium Eater – Thomas De Quincey
  • Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates
  • Some Tame Gazelle – Barbara Pym
  • The Other Boleyn Girl – Philippa Gregory
  • Life of Pi – Yann Martel
  • Salmon Fishing in the Yemen – Paul Torday
  • The Lady Grace Mysteries Assassin – Grace Cavendish
  • The Go-Between – L. P. Hartley
  • Blitzcat – Robert Westall
  • Hitler’s Canary – Sandi Toksvig
  • Hitler’s Daughter – Jackie French
  • When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit – Judith Kerr
  • The Revenger’s Tragedy – Thomas Middleton
  • The Wife of Bath study guide
  • Hamlet study guide
  • The Storyteller – Jodi Picolut
  • Ally’s World series – Karen McCombie (13 books!)
  • Stella etc series books 3-7 – Karen McCombie
  • The Fix – Sophie McKenzie
  • Sadie Rocks! books 1 and 2 – Karen McCombie
  • Truth Dare Kiss Promise series – Cathy Hopkins (8 books!)

There are, I believe, 115 books in total. I may have miscounted. But, needless to say, I now have a lot of free space!!

 

 

The Marvel Readathon 2.0 Wrap-Up

I’m so proud of myself because I’ve actually managed to complete every challenge for this readathon – which is a first for me! I did change one of the books (Bridge of Clay to Matilda) purely because of my plans for the week, but I still completed six books and I’m so proud.

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The One Memory of Flora Banks – Emily Barr

I enjoyed this, it kept me hooked throughout, even though something didn’t quite work for me. I can’t say what specifically, but I just didn’t fall head over heels for it and at times found it a little irritating? It was a fun, unique read though. I’m glad I picked it up, and I enjoyed Flora’s perspective and the repetitiveness of the narrative as it made it feel a little more ‘real’ I guess. 3.5🌟

From a Low and Quiet Sea – Donal Ryan

Oh my goodness, this book was a little gem. I wondered what linked to what as the different parts seemed so unrelated, but they also all slightly linked in small ways and I loved it. In a way, it reminded me a little of NW by Zadie Smith in its execution. Honestly, it was a wonderful read and I flew through it, though I had absolutely no idea what it was about when I went into it. 4.5🌟

The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy – Kate Hattemer

I feel quite conflicted about certain aspects of this book. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed it and I loved the characters, the humour, and the plot too. It kept me laughing, especially during the second half of the book. The only issue I had was that some of the comments / humour wasn’t to my taste, but that’s such a personal thing, it’s unfair to judge a book purely because of that, as someone else may adore it! 4🌟

The Bookshop – Penelope Fitzgerald

This was such an adorable little book. I flew through it, and the first half especially I was completely immersed in. However, the second half and ending let it down for me. I did enjoy reading it though, and I am kind of curious about the film so I may check that out at some point. I enjoyed the characters and the fact that it was set in a bookshop, but everything felt a little flat and as though there could have been a bit more, I suppose. 3.5🌟

Matilda – Roald Dahl

This is one of my all-time favourite books. I swapped to this because I desperately wanted to reread it before I went to see the musical (which was phenomenal), and I’ve been wanting to revisit it for a while anyway. I love it. Roald Dahl is amazing. I wanted Matilda to be my best friend. As a kid with few friends who enjoyed reading, Matilda was the dream book. Everyone should read it. 5🌟

Throne of Glass – Sarah J. Maas

I actually really enjoyed this and I’m looking forward to picking up the sequel. It hasn’t become my new favourite ever book or anything, and there were certainly a lot of tropes and cliches that I found irritating or predictable. Overall however, it was a fun and readable book that definitely kept me hooked throughout. 4🌟

Thank you so much to Hannah for all of her hard work on this readathon. Go and check out her book blog at Sprinkledwithwords.wordpress.com! ❤️