Saturday, 22 October 2016

Staking the Shelves #100 - Please take my library card away from me.

Once I've finished these library books no more until next year. DON'T LOOK AT ME LIKE THAT. I mean it. Unless new releases come in. Or there's a book I really really really want to read or...okay, fine. JUST TAKE MY LIBRARY CARD AWAY FROM ME. PLEASE. But don't actually because it's my baby.

I was really good at the library this week! I only took out 3 books and two of them were reservations I made from like, 3 weeks back. So...go me. #selfcontrol

I also got some really awesome book mail that I'm SO EXCITED TO READ. I got Holly Bourne's latest book and you guys know how much I love reading her books! Also, I can't believe I'm meeting her today, I'm so excited and I'm probably going to fangirl too hard. OOPS.

I'm so excited to read these! I've been waiting forever for my reservation of Valiant to come in so I can marathon the Tithe trilogy. Then I've been meaning to read The 100 as I've heard SUCH GOOD THINGS and when I saw The Call I immediately took it out as I first saw it on booktube and I thought it sounded very interesting!

IKSHLKGJSD I got the new Holly Bourne book!!! Excuse me while I flail copiously. I love, love, LOVE her books - you should go read them. The books deal with tough topics in such a brilliant way, there's incredible female friendships, cute romances, and awesome writing. I LOVE IT. I also got #Famous which sounds SO CUTE and Instructions for a Second Hand Heart is going to make me sob. I JUST KNOW IT. 


So pretty. Excuse me while I go hole up in my room with my books because I have MUCH READING AHEAD OF ME!

What books did you acquire this week?
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Friday, 21 October 2016

Gemina by Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman deserves all the stars

Gemina (The Illuminae Files, #2)Title: Gemina
Series: The Illuminae Files #2
Author: Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman
Publication: 18th October 2016, Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pages: 672 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Rock the Boat UK for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 5/5 CUPCAKES!
The saga that began with breakout bestseller Illuminae continues aboard Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of BeiTech’s assault. Hanna is the station commander's pampered daughter, Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.
When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station crew one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon, Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.
But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.
Told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless. 

I try to attain some level of professionalism in my reviews but I'M NOT ABLE TO WITH THIS FREAKING BOOK. I'm just going to fangirl and use GIFS and all caps because I HAVE TOO MANY EMOTIONS. 

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Okay, so. After reading Illuminae, I immediately picked up my arc of Gemina and I was nervous to read it. Because a) the authors have shown that they aren't afraid to rip my heart out and stomp on it and b) Illuminae was so freaking epic I was terrified that the sequel wouldn't live up to it BUT I NEED NOT HAVE FEARED and c) that I wouldn't form an attachment to the new characters. Boy, oh boy, was I wrong. Gemina was amazing, I dove straight into it and I was immersed from page one, I fell completely in love with the new characters and I did several happy dances when characters from the first book appeared. I have gone through the entire spectrum of emotions from horror to fear to disgust to fangirlyness (shh, it's a word) to amusement, to sadness...holy heck, that was one hell of a ride. Like, I didn't think anything could top Illuminae but I fell completely in love with this new stellar cast of characters, the plot, the unique format, the romance...this book was perfect and all I could've asked for.

Where do I even begin? The characters? ALL RIGHT THEN, if you insist.

I LOVED THE CHARACTERS SO MUCH, THEY ARE MY PRECIOUSES AND IF YOU DON'T LOVE THEM I WILL FIGHT YOU. They are so brave and snarky and complex and I just love them so much. I love how they have these exteriors that hide who they truly are – Hanna is viewed as a high-and-mighty, privileged princess by most people and Nik is viewed as a criminal, bad boy from a lethal family – and I loved how the authors stripped them bare to the bone and showed us who they truly are inside, making me love them all even more.

Can I have a Nik? Please?! CAN I? I want him for Christmas. He's so sweet and funny and he's so badass. He has these tattoos, he's Hanna's drug dealer and he comes from a crime family which makes him seem scary but he's actually a squishy marshmallow on the inside. I absolutely love how protective he is of his family and the sacrifices he would go through in order to protect those he loves. He's perfect and I LOVE HIM SO MUCH.
Image result for my squishy gif

Then there's Hanna Donnelly. Holy. Freaking. Heck. Everyone's got her down as this spoiled, rich princess but OH MY GOSH, although she's incredibly privileged, she's so much more than that. She's so clever. Like, thank you to the authors for incorporating female characters who are interested in science/maths/engineering – YA needs more of that! As an aspiring astrophysicist, I LOVE seeing female characters finding an interesting the STEM subjects/careers. Also: she's a smart blonde. #breakingthestereotypeyasss Hanna is also brave. Like that girl is not afraid to get her hands dirty and mess up Falk and his minions' shiz. She's sassy and snarky and courageous and she has guts. I think she may be my new favourite heroine.

I LOVED Ella too! She was Nik's fifteen-year-old cousin who is an incredible hacker with sass levels that know no bounds. She was hilariously snarky and I utterly adored her!

The other characters in this book were written so incredibly well, too. The villains?! The villains, guys. They were evil and terrifying and my heart is pounding now even just thinking about it. All the characters were brought to life and they all felt like living, breathing beings. Which is awesome when you encounter characters like Hannah, Nik and Ella but when it's people like Falk and his squad, well, you feel like you should be sleeping with one eye open.

ANOTHER thing I loved about this book was the family dynamics. It was so sweet seeing loving father/daughter relationships and I adored Nik and Ella's relationship. I cried several times because of these said relationships as my feels were stabbed multiple times. I LOVED IT.

Image result for i love it gif

Now, the plot...holy schnitzels, it was incredible. My heart was racing several times, I felt physically sick most of the time (which is a good thing, right?) because THE TERROR and SICKENED DISGUST I felt due to the events that unfolded sent actual shivers up my spine and there were some moments where I just needed to take a breather. There were so many heart-stopping moments that left me breathless, not to mention the MIND BLOWING things that happened that left me screeching at the authors for putting me through this ordeal. I was in denial through most of the book and the ENDING?! KJZDLGKJLDSGH is all I can say. My mind was blown, yet again. Also: I LOVED the physics in this book. I'm a quantum physics nerd and the science-y things it contained made me love it even more.

The romance – geez. SOMEONE HOLD ME. The first conversation spoken between Hanna and Nik had me screeching “I SHIP THEM” and I totally do. The chemistry between them is palpable and even when Hanna pretended she didn't have feelings for him I was like YOU LOVE HIM AND YOU KNOW IT. He's such a wonderful cinnamon roll, how can you not?! I loved how they protected each other and I love they were strong on their own but when in close proximity of the other they were unstoppable. I found another OTP, guys, I found another OTP. I also loved the writing, I loved the humor, I loved the format – this book was incredible.

Image result for i ship it gif

Gemina is a stellar sci-fi sequel with a unique format, extraordinary characters, brutal villains and horrifying, yet fascinating, plot – with the deadly, breathtaking backdrop of outer space. Gemina left me breathless and wordless and craving more, an exhilarating, phenomenal sequel that deserves all the stars.

I give it: 5/5 cupcakes!

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Thursday, 20 October 2016

YA Shot 2016, Gemina and Book Clubs

Life is pretty exciting for me at the moment, book wise. I'm reading some amazing books, I've been inspired to blog again, I'm attending YA Shot this weekend and I'm attending my first book club meeting next month! So, why not blog about it?

I'VE BEEN READING SO MANY GOOD BOOKS. I've recently read Illuminae and I finished Gemina last night and they were SO BRILLIANT. Like, I want to read every single book both authors have written. The characters are SO PRECIOUS.

The plot is so enthralling. The format is so incredibly unique. AND GOSH I JUST LOVE IT A LOT. I finished it last night and when I woke up this morning I was like “Eek, can't wait to read more!” and then I realised I had finished it and I was like WHAT IS THIS TORTURE?! I need the next one. Neeeeed.

I also have some super exciting news! SO, I enter a lot of giveaways right. Not a lot lot, but a sufficient amount. A few weeks ago I entered to win two tickets to YA Shot, which is YA book festival with over 70 authors participating. I wasn't expecting to win because I never win anything and I WON! I'M GOING TO YA SHOT OMG I'M SO EXCITED. It's in London this Saturday and there are so many authors I've excited to see! Holly Smale and Holly Bourne being the ones I'm *most* excited for. I wanted to see them at the Cheltenham Literature Festival but I couldn't make it, SO I'M SUPER DUPER EXCITED. I'm also hoping to see Sophia Bennett, Maggie Harcourt, Kathryn Evans and Alwyn Hamilton! London is pretty far from us though so my parents don't want to leave too late and Alwyn's event ends quite late but hopefully I won't miss it! Even though I'm really excited I'm quite nervous too as I attended two author events last weekend and I nearly had a panic attack at the one, but hopefully, I can keep my anxiety under control this time!

THEN, you know I told you guys about my library's YA book club? The next book we're reading is Throne of Glass which I'm super excited about as I've been meaning to read since it first came out and now I'll finally be getting around to it. ALSO, at our next meeting we'll be having a Skype conversation with Kathryn Evans which is AWESOME. She's one of the authors I'm hoping to meet at YA Shot and I actually got sent her book to review, so I think I'll be reading that one next!

I'm so excited that I'm getting a chance to go to YA Shot! Are any of you guys going? Who are you hoping to see? 

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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Thoughts all library addicts have had

I LOVE LIBRARIES and I shall always love libraries. They are filled with books and words and book lovers like moi, it's comforting and calming and I love how there are thousands of potential adventures and characters just waiting for me. Some of my fondest memories are of libraries and GOSH I JUST LOVE THEM A LOT OKAY. As a library lover, there are several thoughts I've found myself having. Maybe once, or twice or all the time.

1. Would it be weird if I moved in or nah?
Would it, though? I'm there practically every day, surely they would notice it more if I wasn't there? Shh, don't argue with my (lack of) logic.

star trek spock vulcan logic seven of nine

2. Is it even healthy to take out this many books?

no korean hahaha no lol no

IT'S DANGEROUS. The papercuts, the towering tower of books that block your vision and cause you to fall, the potential breakage of back due to the 240kg worth of books in your bag. DO YOU SEE THE PERILS WE FACE?!

3. My TBR pile is the size of Everest and is about to crush me so I will not take out any more...OMG NEW RELEASES. YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU.
Why is this me though? Every time I go into the library and I see their new books...

Self-control be like, new phone, who dis?

4. Since I'm here all the time maybe I can start moving my things in slowly?? They won't notice, right??

penguin embarrassed you didnt see anything reactions oops

5. I wonder if I can read all the books in the YA section in the next 2 years

*attempts to block out images of unread bookshelf at home* Pssh, I could totally do that. If I ignore the books at home. And I don't sleep. Or shower. Or socialise with anyone ever.

Please tell me I'm not the only one who has entertained this highly improbable thought?

6. I'll take one book out, I mean, it's not like I have that many at home. *avoids thinking about the 10 books checked out*
I DIDN'T MEAN TO. It just...happened? 

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7.I-I I just realised...I won't be able to read all these books. Ever. EXCUSE ME WHILE I GO SOB IN MY BOOK CAVE COMPRISED OF BOOKS I PROBABLY MIGHT NOT EVER READ.

So. many. books. so. little. time.

8. Ooh, many shelves. Very pretty. Ooh, a book. With a shiny cover. *puts in library bag*

books nerd library alexis bledel book store

9. Let me look at every single book on every single shelf in the YA section and – GASP! I've never heard of this book before. WHAT IS THIS SACRILEGE?! Must read. *puts in library bag*
Whenever I find a book I haven't heard of I'm like 50% HOW DO I NOT KNOW EVERY BOOK EVER and 50% OMG YAY NEW BOOK TO DEVOUR MWAHAHA.

10. Ooh! There's a person! My age! In the YA section! A potential friend, methinks. Let me just continue browsing and watch what books they take out in a non-creepily way instead of speaking to them because #shynessprobs
They were boys. Who liked books. But what did I do? I HID BEHIND A BOOKCASE UNTIL THEY LEFT. That's how you make friends, kids. 

11. I wonder what weird, random objects I'll find in this book
Ah, the joy of library books.

12. *Is happily reading book*
*comes across suspicious looking stain*
*gags* Please do not let that be what I think it is

Image result for disgusted face

The guilt. Is real.

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My reservations for The 100 by Kass Morgan and Black Heart by Holly Black came in today and I nearly died of happiness.

15. *lifts a stack of books* Daaaamn, look at those muscles. I wonder if there are any cute boys around to admire my highly impressive strength.
Today I was literally carrying a stack of books under one arm and a grocery bag (a heavy one, might I add), in the other hand. WANT TO KNOW HOW I GOT THOSE MUSCLES?! Book lifting. Bow down to your queen, folks.

LET'S TALK! Are you a library addict? Can you relate to any of these? If so, which ones? What other thoughts have you had in the library?!
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Saturday, 15 October 2016

Stacking the Shelves #99 - Big book haul is big


I'm currently writing this and I'm cold. Like, freezing. WINTER IS HEREEE. I'm actually excited for winter which has made me wonder if I've somehow had a brain transplant without my knowledge because I love SUN AND BEACHES AND THE HEAT but...I'm actually looking forward to hot chocolate and blankets and reading as darkness falls early. I also have so many amazing books to read and in winter it's not very appealing to leave the house because it's -5 outside so LESS SOCIALISING! MORE READING! YAS.

This week has been a good week. Kind of. I've been challenging myself to step outside of my comfort zone and it's hard and at the time I struggle a lot but I always feel proud of myself afterward, so I try to remind myself of that when I'm on the brink of a panic attack. I've been walking to the shops with my mom and catching buses and navigating an area that I'm not familiar with (always with someone, though, I'm not yet prepared to do it by myself!) and I've actually been doing it. Which I'm so proud of. There have been moments in my life where I couldn't leave my house without having a severe panic attack and going into malls was completely unthinkable. I remember going for a walk with my mom and beginning to hyperventilate as soon as we were out the front door, so I'm incredibly proud of myself for being able to do this. It's been hard because at the time I'm so anxious. You know, heart racing, not being able to breathe, mind going completely blank and that intense rush of panic but I worked through it. And I was actually able to enjoy myself. And even though every time I set out to do a challenge it terrifies me, I know that the more I expose myself to these anxiety-inducing situations, the easier it will get. I hope.

I've also been doing quite a bit of school but I'm loving it so much! I'm currently on the last unit in my AS English Language which happens to be creative writing and gosh, I think I'm finally out of my writing slump which is awesome as next month is NaNoWriMo! Are you participating? I'm going to finish the first draft of a book I started for last year's NaNo – it will be my first time finishing a draft and I'm SO. EXCITED. Once I finish that, I was thinking of maybe doing a Snow White retelling with zombies or something like that?? WE'LL SEE.

I'm also LOVING physics! I'm currently learning about waves and frequencies etc and I always hated that part of physics but after watching some brilliant YouTube videos on it, I've begun to be really interested in it which is awesome!

I also got some AMAZING books this week! I got 10 review copies which I'm SUPER EXCITED FOR AND OMG SOMEONE HOLD ME and...I got library books out...and I bought books.I NEED TO BE STOPPED WHAT IS THIS?!

I KNOW. DON'T JUDGE ME. I actually had out The Hobbit and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown but I realised that I'd marathon The Lord of the Rings series when I've cut down on my TBR pile and when I read the first three pages of TCGIC which were very gory I decided that it probably wasn't for me! However, when I saw Holly's other books sitting there that weren't vampire books I thought I'd marathon them! I've been wanting to read The Darkest Part of the Forest forever so when I saw it I was like: 

excited kids history channel swamp people excited gif

I also got out Tithe and Ironside and I'm waiting for my copy of Valiant to arrive at the library so I can marathon that because FAIRIES. I love fairies. Especially evil ones. #imnormaliswear I also got out Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows which I was ECSTATIC about as they didn't have it the last time I was there (which was like...2 days ago. I've basically moved into the library) and I'M SO READY. But not really. Because I know who dies. AND I'M STILL NOT PREPARED BECAUSE OMG MY POOR BABIES. 

GUYS. GUYS. LET'S JUST FLAIL FOR LIKE, 500 YEARS BECAUSE LOOK AT THEM. LOOK AT THEM. I absolutely LOVE the Lockwood & Co books so when Penguin Random House sent me them I nearly died. I also was ECSTATIC to receive The Canterville Ghost (Oscar Wilde is perfection), A Christmas Carol (I've always wanted to read a Dickens book!) and Dracula - look at me reading all these classics! I also got a super exciting email from Pan Macmillan about their new titles and whether or not I'd like to review any of them and HOLY MOTHER OF BOOKISH AWESOMENESS they sound so fantastic and they're so pretty and I'm super duper excited to read them all! EEK!

I...kind of bought books. I went to a charity store and I saw the first two Heroes of Olympus books  in HARDCOVER for £2 each I was like YES PLEASE AND THANK YOU. I was also eyeing the Penguin black spine classic of David Copperfield which I read the first few pages of and I thought it sounded really interesting. Every time I go into this shop the book is there and every time I'm like "I WANT IT BUT I SHOULDN'T OR SHOULD I UGH I DON'T EVEN KNOW ANYMORE" and once again I left it BUT THEN (mwahaha) as I'm paying the cashier told me you could only pay with a card if it's over £5 and as I was on £4 and David Copperfield was  £1.50 I was like TIS MEANT TO BE! So I got me a copy. And I'm so happy I got it. And now I just have to read it. YAS.

I also bought the first 3 Geek Girl books from a charity store as they were £1 each! WUT. I've been wanting to get them forever as it's one of my favourite series so YAY! I also bought me The Fellowship of the Ring as I'm trying to collect The Lord of the Rings series so I can marathon it at some point and I bought me the last two books in the Heist Society trilogy as after finishing the first one I was like SQUEE I NEED MORE because HEISTS! CONS! CRIMINALS! HALE! MORE HALE! 

ALL TOGETHER NOW: (I forgot to include Tithe and Ironside...oops)

Wow. I'm officially drowning in books BUT I LOVE IT.  What books did you receive this week? Have you read any of these? Are they any here that you've read/want to read? 
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Monday, 10 October 2016

World Mental Health Day: My Story

Triggers: This post includes stuff about anxiety and panic attacks. It's also very long so if you read it all, thank you. 

As it's World Mental Health Day, I thought I would share my story as I think it's important that I do – that we all do. I wasn't going to as I've always found it quite hard to talk about – scared of how people would view me, what they would think, what they would say. Would they view me as weak? Vulnerable? Pathetic? Would they say I was faking it? Would they remind me that it's all in my head, trivializing all that I've been through? Maybe a few years back I would've kept quiet, retweeted a few tweets, shared few posts, however, I've grown to not care about what people might say, what people might think and I've decided that I should share my story. I am not ashamed. I used to be and I don't know why. If anything, me - and all the others with anxiety, depression, bipolar, schizophrenia and other mental disorders - are brave. So brave. For getting up every day and fighting through it, keeping the hope burning inside us that one day we will be okay. If each of us told others about the ongoing war we were fighting every day, if each of us could find someone who is battling the same enemy, it would help us feel understood, if would help us not feel so alone - not like damaged goods. The more we talk about it, the more we'll be helping not only ourselves but others too. It's 2016, mental health shouldn't still be such a taboo subject now, should it?


My name is Kyra and I have an anxiety disorder.

It began seven years ago when I was ten years old. In England, a year after moving here from South Africa. Early in the morning when I was at school. School hadn't even officially started. It was October, funnily enough. On a Wednesday. I distinctly remember everything that morning seemed to go wrong – now looking back, it seems like everything was set up so perfectly to cause the event that would alter my life so drastically. I woke up late and because I woke up late I had breakfast late, however, my cereal was practically finished so I couldn't finish making more breakfast before my lift arrived (my dad couldn't take me to school due to his work and my mom couldn't drive because she was extremely ill with her M.E./CFS). I didn't have anything to drink and I was bundled up in too many layers for October - trivial things that shouldn't matter but did. I got to school and I was fine because why wouldn't I be? I chatted with friends and the one playfully took my hat from my head and ran away with it and naturally, I chased after her. It was a really nice hat. I was running and running and running in too thick clothes and I was probably dehydrated too. I was running and I was fine and then I thought “ heart is pounding hard. Really, really hard.” - it was beating sickeningly hard. My vision grew fuzzy and I couldn't breathe (because I had just run more than I'd probably ever run before – I'm not exactly what you'd call sporty) and I got tunnel vision, I couldn't hear anything and everything took on a slightly dreamlike quality. “Am I dreaming?” I thought as I stumbled towards my friend. “You okay?” she said. I sat down, then jumped back up. “I'm fine.” I left her there and walked towards the teacher, feeling like I was floating on air, feeling so hot, feeling dizzy and sick. “I feel funny.” I said. She called one of my friends and asked her to bring me water, she told me to sit down and I did.

Everything went black.

I woke up with faces staring down at me. I had fallen off the bench and hit my head hard and I was quite shaken up. I was taken to the office with my friend and my parents arrived. I went to the doctor and he said I was fine, but advised my parents keeping me at home the next two days and see how I'm doing as I might have a slight concussion. I was fine. That all changed when I went to my friend's bowling party the Saturday night. I also had another friend from a different part of England staying with me for the holiday (I think our school broke up that Friday) so I went to the party for a bit as I had promised my friend I would be there but that I wouldn't go too long as it would be rude to desert the other friend who was staying with us. Anyway, I was fine. Until I wasn't. I think it was the lights of the bowling alley, they were dim and it made my vision dim, just like it did when I fainted. Then I became scared, really scared. What if it happened again? I began crying, I couldn't breathe, the noise was too loud and the lights were too bright but not bright enough and I needed my parents but they weren't there and I was 10, I didn't have a phone, how could I contact them? Luckily, luckily, my friend's mom had kept my mom's contact details and she was able to phone her. They rushed over and they tried to calm me down. It was seven years ago, things from that evening are blurry. But I remember sitting at the table while everyone laughed and ate cake and I tried to eat but the cake got stuck in my throat, my heart was still racing, I still couldn't breathe and my skin felt too small, too tight. "Mom. I can't. I can't. I need to go." Ten-year-old faces stared at me, parents stared at me, everyone was confused and nobody could understand. I couldn't understand. I was ten years old and I had my first panic attack and I felt like my body was attacking itself.

I got home. I had another panic attack. For weeks and weeks, I just sat in my house, too scared to move. I woke up with anxiety, I felt sick and my heart was racing constantly and I was terrified all the time. I could barely eat, I could barely drink, I couldn't even go to the bathroom by myself, I couldn't leave my house. My heart constantly slammed against my chest, I felt like I could never breathe, I felt like I couldn't swallow past the knotted wad of anxiety that stuck in my throat. Looking back now, I honestly don't know how I got through it I didn't see friends, I couldn't go to school, I was terrified being separated from my parents. I quit choir and piano and dance club. I felt like I had completely lost all who I was. My days were filled with panic and it was all I could think of, I stopped singing, I stopped laughing. I just stopped, I guess. My mom homeschooled me for about two months but then the school rang us and said I needed to come back to school. Eventually, with therapy and rescue remedy, I started going back to school a few hours. Half a day. Then eventually full day. I remember feeling scared and dreading school the next day but I was told by my school that I had to come, that it would get worse if I avoided it. I remember the lights being too bright and the class feeling too big and the hall where I ate with all the kids feeling too cold and too big yet too small. It was hard. School, something I had always loved, became my worst enemy. 

Despite the support and care of my teachers no one truly understood. My friends didn't understand, they tried, but we were only ten. I didn't go to the parties and I didn't go to school full time and I didn't go on school trips. I felt very, very lonely. I tried rejoining choir but it made me too aware of my breathing, too aware of my heart, too aware. I couldn't do it. I got slightly better. I went to secondary school for a few months, I got on a plane and I moved back to Cape Town. For the first year and a half back in South Africa I was fine. I was at school, I had friends, I still couldn't really be away from my parents much but I was better annnnnd then life was like lol no.

I went to the orthodontist because my teeth were so skew and they made me quite self-conscious and I've never liked doctors/dentists (WHO DOES?!) but it was made worse by my anxiety. Sitting in a chair with a racing heart and thoughts and fears of having panic attacks running in my mind, I was already anxious. My fearful state was enhanced when I heard the orthodontist say “Oh...that's going to be a problem.” I was like oh darn it, this can't be good, but it can't be that bad, right? Well, he then went on to tell me all the problems I had with my jaw and the jaw surgery I would need to correct it, how he would have to PHYSICALLY BREAK MY JAW and I wouldn't be able to eat solids for six weeks (when he said that I was like HAHAHA LOL BYE) and it made me pretty anxious but not panic attack kind of anxious. That was during the week (I think) and that Sunday I was saying prayers with my parents and I'm not sure what it was, maybe it was because my chest felt a little bit tight and I was praying and I was very much “in my head” so I became super vigilant about my breathing (due to the whole fainting thing I'm very, very aware of my breathing and my heart which is kiiinda annoying) but then before I knew it I was gulping in air and I couldn't breathe hard enough or fast enough and my chest started aching and I had a panic attack. As I was saying my prayers. Oh, the irony. 

I didn't go to school the next day, I was too scared. Of what, you might ask? Scared of fainting, scared of a panic attack. Panic attacks can feel like you're about to faint, so it's a vicious cycle, I guess. However, I went the Tuesday, I was fine. I went the Wednesday and it was bad, it was really bad. I was in class and the lights seemed too dim and the teacher's voice sounded far away and I had a panic attack and I'll never forget how bad it was. My whole body felt like it was burning up and eating itself, my skin felt numb and tingly, I was drawing in breaths but I couldn't freaking breathe. My chest was so, so tight and I was crying and my throat ached from trying to get oxygen into my lungs and I felt like I was going to pass out and my legs were weak and it was so incredibly awful. I went home. I tried again the next day. I was fine for most of the morning but when we had to go outside for a break, out of nowhere my chest started feeling tight and I couldn't breathe.
Teacher, please may I call my mom? I'm feeling really anxious, I need to call her.”
Why are you anxious?”
I don't know, it just happens. Please can I go inside and call my mom? I need to go.”
You're not going inside until you give me a reason why you need to call your mom. You probably just want to go inside because it's cold, is that it? You're faking it.” (Thanks, thanks a lot.)
Not until you give me a reason.”
I was so sick of that. I still am. Give me a reason why you're anxious, why are you? Why do you feel like you're dying right now, Kyra? It just happens. I can be fine then the next minute I feel like I'm having a heart attack. It. Just. Happens. I was starting shake, shivers were racking my body, my heart was pounding and my throat was dry. My mind became foggy and I only had one purpose: to call my mom and get the hell home.
Okay ma'am, can I go to the bathroom to get some water, maybe that will help?” As if that would.
I went to the IT room and I told the teacher (thank you so much for understanding, I can't remember if I ever thanked you, but thank you. Truly.) that I was having a panic attack and I needed to go home. Right now. A lot of you are probably thinking why couldn't I have just stayed at school until the panic subsided but I was so terrified of fainting, so terrified of the sensation those panic attacks brought – the aching chest, the aching throat, the pounding heart, the dizziness, the light-headedness, the disorientation, the tingling, the numbness, not being able to breathe - I just wanted to be home. With my family. Who were the only people I felt safe with because they understood. Luckily the IT teacher and a few of the other teachers were so, so lovely and they allowed me to ring my mom, and my mom and brother picked me up a short while later. After that, my parents began homeschooling me. I was thirteen. It was two months after I had started this blog, actually.

What ensued was similar to the last time. Panic attacks constantly. Pretty much every few hours. It would be something of a celebration for me if I had only one a day. The panic attacks were so bad, I especially remember how I would gasp for air as if was deprived of oxygen and how this would cause my entire throat and chest to ache and I also remember how my arms and legs went tingly and numb. I remember how I couldn't leave my house. I remember walking into a shopping centre and lasting five minutes before it would start up and people would stare as I wrung my hands or as I began tapping my foot and showing other signs of unravelling as I fell apart before their eyes. I remember collapsing in the car and crying until my throat burned and feeling like such a failure. I remember losing so many friends who told me to just “try harder”, who stopped inviting me out because of my anxiety. It was a long, hard few months. However, I made it through again. I joined dance classes and I actually got in the car with people to dancing and back which is nothing to most people but to me was a Big Deal seeing as I hated being too far from my parents in case I got really anxious. Through this I became extremely close to my friends Kristin, Talor, Cayla and thanks to homeschooling, Amy too (hi, if you guys are reading this) who were and still are so wonderfully supportive and understanding. So things were good, really good for awhile. I even went to a few birthday parties with lots of people and flashing lights and I was fine. 

I had a dance show and then I got really anxious again. I stopped dancing. Which made me sad but I just didn't feel like I could face it anymore, I was too anxious. I'm not sure why. So I threw myself into my blogging, my reading, and my school work. I had my IGCSE exams and it made me incredibly anxious and so stressed and I felt like I kind of exhausted my brain with all the studying and the stressing but it's school, I can't not do school. Stressing about exam halls and exams and people and panic attacks in exam halls and OMG THE RESULTS AND MY FUTURE AND I NEED As AND A*s AND SCHOOL STRESSES ME OUT BUT I NEED TO SUCCEED AND I NEED TO KEEP BLOGGING AND READING AND WRITING AND BE SUCCESSFUL AT THAT TOO AND MORE EVEN 
because it's all I have left. 
The achievement in that is all that I'm worth. 
That's how I felt and because I was in that mindset it made me feel stressed all the time and like I had to constantly be good at everything all the time as if that would make up for my anxiety even though I don't need to do anything to make up for it. That's not how it works. My anxiety made me feel so worthless, so small, I felt like I was failing at life compared to all my former schoolmates who were at school, at parties, functioning normally. I didn't have a ton of friends anymore, I wasn't super popular, I didn't do any of the extracurricular activities I used to, I wasn't at school anymore so I was no longer “scientist of the month” or top of the class or part of this and that. I felt like a disappointment to my family and everyone, really. I've always been a high achiever and I always wanted to be doing something that would make myself and others proud. Even though I don't really view it like that anymore, even though there's no set way I should be living my life, that I'm not failing anyone's expectations (except my own) but I still struggle with it. A lot. 

Whenever I don't get an A/A* grade or if I can't understand something in school or if I get anxious again or if I fall behind on my blogging and reading I get really upset with myself because there's a small voice saying that school and my blog is the only way I can make people proud of me. And it's stupid. I know. And it's stupid getting stressed about school and blogging and reading because it's what I love and enjoy (yes, I'm that kind of nerd that actually loves doing school work) because I'm afraid that it won't meet mine or others' expectations. That doesn't matter, what matters is how many kind words I've spoken that have made a person's day, how many battles I've fought and am fighting and I haven't given up, how many people I've made laugh and smile and feel good about themselves. I know that's really what matters, but on bad days, there's a little voice in my head telling me all that I am not because of one incident on an autumn day in a little village in England when I was 10 years old.

I'm seventeen now. I'm in my second to last year of homeschooling. I moved back to England with my parents last August and I'm doing...okay. I'm not getting panic attacks but I still have general anxiety, I still get anxious around new people and I still can't really go anywhere by myself but I'm so, so thankful that it's not as bad as it was. I plan on finding a CBT therapist soon to help me and I meditate and do EFT tapping to help relieve some of my anxiety. I have good days and bad days. But the anxiety is something I'm always aware of, and I'm hoping that one day that will change. I'm better than I was but not quite as better as before, but I know I'll get there again one day.

I often find myself wondering how my life would've been, how I would've been now...if it weren't for that day. I try not to dwell on it because it always leaves me feeling sad and nostalgic for a life I haven't lived. Despite everything, there is a silver lining. There always is. It's made me more empathetic. It's made me understand that not all illnesses and not all disabilities are visible. It made me find even more comfort in books and blogging and through my love of both those things I met some amazing people and I got to experience wonderful things. It made me more sensitive to those around me, it made me realise how strong I actually was, it helped me find my true friends and my experiences also fuelled poems, songs and short stories that I'm extremely proud of. I don't know why this had to happen, I don't know why bad things have to happen to anyone, but I know that there's a greater plan and I know that these hardships will mould us into extraordinary people.

I know this was very long, so thank you if read it. This was hard for me to write and it may be hard for you to read but I wanted to share my story. We always keep quiet about our problems because we're scared of what people will think, what people will say but it's so important that we share our stories so that we know we're not alone. If there is anyone reading this who has anxiety, please don't be afraid to talk to me. I think things would be so much better if we all spoke about the battles we are facing and if you need anyone, I'm here.
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Friday, 7 October 2016

Dyslexia Awareness Week - Prince Frog Face by Kaye Umansky is fabulously fun!

Prince Frog FaceTitle: Prince Frog Face
Series: N/A
Author: Kaye Umansky
Genre: Children's Fiction
Publication: July 1st 2015, Barrington Stoke
Pages: 66 Pages, Paperback
Source: Thank you to Barrington Stoke and BookLife for sending me this book in exchange for an honest review!
Rating: 4/5 cupcakes!
Prince Valentine of Romantica is on the hunt for a girlfriend. After interviewing several candidates - they were all boring - he took a break to harass an old woman (as you do). And that's how he was turned into a frog, chucked down a well and stuck with a trio of singing toads. 
Still, that doesn't have to stop his girlfriend hunt. Pucker up, ladies!

Prince Frog Face is an excellent book for young readers (and not-so-young readers!) that will have you chortling at the characters' antics and smiling at the magical mayhem that ensues. Not only does it contain extreme character development, important life lessons and witty one-liners - it's also dyslexia friendly!

Prince Frog Face revolves around Prince Valentine of Romantica who is seeking a girlfriend. However, after interviewing a plethora of princesses - scoring them based on their fashion, hobbies and such - and failing to be impressed, he takes a break to amble around the castle's grounds. There he meets an old woman and after chastising her and being unbearably rude, she decides to teach him a lesson - by turning him into a frog! As the Prince hops, annoys some royal ladies and adjusts to his new cravings for insects - and engages in all other amphibian activities - he learns some vital life lessons along the way!

Prince Frog Face is a magical, humorous read that people of all ages will enjoy! Not only will it's fabulously fun plot delight readers, it will also provide fantastic reading material for those who do have dyslexia. With tinted pages, a special font, and large spacing Prince Frog Face provides enthralling reading entertainment for all and ensures that no child will have to be deprived of reading!

I give it: 4/5 CUPCAKES!

To download your FREE posters and read more about what BookLife are doing to celebrate Dyslexia Awareness Week, visit their website at and follow them on Twitter @booklifesocial and tweet using the hashtag #booklifedaw2016.
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