#AntiBullyReads: Wrap-Up

Well, #AntiBullyReads is finally over, and despite a quite slow start (I barely read anything before the weekend), I’m pretty happy with my results. I managed to read two whole books, and about half (the last half) of a third, and I even won a giveaway (the day 2 prize pack, which was donated by The Book People)! XD In this wrap-up, I’ve shared my thoughts on the books I read, and I’ve picked out what I thought was an appropriate Anti-Bullying Week quote from each of them. Enjoy!

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone illustratedHarry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone by J.K. Rowling. The illustrated edition! I’ve been reading this for a while, going slowly so as to savour the experience, but I thought that this was the perfect opportunity to finish it off – and I loved it! It’s an amazing book, of course, but reading it in this format, with all the beautiful illustrations (and they’re really lovely), was just perfect. XD My favourite anti-bullying quote from this first book:

Harry felt in the pocket of his robes and pulled out a Chocolate Frog, the very last one from the box Hermione had given him for Christmas. He gave it to Neville, who looked as though he might cry.

‘You’re worth twelve of Malfoy,’ Harry said.

5 stars

Robin Hobb//Assassin's ApprenticeAssassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. The first book in the Farseer trilogy – a high fantasy series that follows Fitz, the illegitimate son of the heir to the throne, who is dumped on his father’s family and household, none of whom really know what to make of him. The story is written as if it’s a memoir – in first person, and with blanks in areas where Fitz has gaps in his memory (though thankfully that happens less and less as he ages) – which works really well, and lets you really get to know him before any of the real action begins, and brief segments at the beginning of each chapter talked about the history of the Farseer world, which was both interesting and very helpful in fleshing it out (especially since Fitz’s own world is so small, at least for the majority of the book). The characters, I also loved, particularly Fitz himself, as well as Prince Verity, Chade, Burrich, and a whole host of others.

In terms of bullying, I’ll confess that for most of the first half book there isn’t really any, excepting the mild disapproval that Fitz seems to garner wherever he goes. It wasn’t until near the halfway point that it became clear to me why this book was recommended for the readathon: Fitz finds himself at odds with one of his instructors, who is cruel to all his students, but seems to take particular joy in abusing and belittling Fitz – and, his spirit broken (or at least a little bit squished), he has difficulty mustering the will to respond. This is the advice that Burrich eventually gives him:

‘You didn’t fail, you fool. Galen tried to drive you away. If you don’t go back, you’ll have let him win. You have to go back and you have to learn it. But,’ and here he turned on me, and the anger in his eyes was for me, ‘You don’t have to stand there like a carter’s mule while he beats you. You’ve a birthright to his time and his knowledge. Make him give you what is yours. Don’t run away. No one ever gained anything by running away.’

5 stars

Jandy Nelson//I'll Give You the SunI’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson. The story of a pair of twins – Noah and Jude – once close, but torn apart by lies and misunderstandings, and their attempts to heal the breach. The book is divided into two parts, and jumps between Noah’s perspective just before the events that separated them, and Jude’s perspective a couple of years after, and it makes for a compelling narrative – we’re able to figure out bits and pieces of the mystery, but are never able to see the full picture before the end. I really enjoyed this book, in terms of story, characterisation and structure, but I also found it a little challenging at times, since Nelson uses so much artistic metaphor, which made it difficult to decipher what was real and what wasn’t (I might even go so far as to describe this as a magical realism book), but thankfully I was able to get used to it eventually.

It also doesn’t contain as much bullying as I thought it would. Noah is bullied a little at the beginning, and there’s a character introduced a little later on who worries a lot that he might be bullied, but on the whole, it was more of a coming-of-age, self-discovery type story. But regardless, here’s my favourite (kind of) anti-bullying quote from this book:

“Listen to me. It takes a lot of courage to be true to yourself, true to your heart. You always have been very brave that way and I pray you always will be. It’s your responsibility, Noah. Remember that.”

4 stars

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Thematic Recs: Bullying (for #AntiBullyReads)

I was initially planning on posting a review today, but (surprise, surprise) I still haven’t finished the book I was hoping to review. 😳 So, instead – and since I’m still in the middle of the Anti-Bullying Readathon, and have therefore been thinking about bullying a lot – I thought I’d bring you another thematic recs list! 🙂 The bullying in all these books is pretty prominent, if not the main focus of the story, but I’ve tried to pick out books that will (I hope) appeal to a variety of different people – and, of course, they’re also some of my favourite books on this topic!

Susan Hill//I'm the King of the Castle1) I’m the King of the Castle by Susan Hill. A chilling story that I first read as a set text in school. I’m the King of the Castle follows a young boy called Hooper, who lives alone with his distant father in a cold, remote house – until his father hires a new housekeeper, who brings her her son, Kingshaw. Resenting Kingshaw’s presence in his home, Hooper proceeds to bully him mercilessly, and the main focus of the story is on the relationship between the two boys.

Fanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault//Jane, the Fox & Me2) Jane, the Fox & Me by Fanny Britt & Isabelle Arsenault. The story of a girl called Hélène, who is bullied by her former friends because of her weight – and consequently spends her days escaping into books (Jane Eyre specifically). A beautifully drawn and written graphic novel, with an incredibly touching story.

Laurie Halse Anderson//Speak3) Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. Another story about being ostracised by people that the main character once called friends. Starting a new year at school, Melinda finds that all her friends are ignoring her, angry that she called the police on a party over the summer. With no one to speak to, she withdraws into her own mind, but that makes it difficult for her to hide from a memory that she’d rather forget – the real reason why she busted that party. Heart-wrenching and incredibly powerful; I’d recommend this book to pretty much anyone.

Jay Asher//13 Reasons Why4) Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher. This book is about Hannah, a teenage girl who committed suicide not long before the story begins – before she died, however, she recorded a series of tapes, and posted them out to the people who she held responsible for her death. The story is half-told by Hannah herself, in the form of her tapes, while the other half of the story is told from the perspective of a boy called Clay, who is one of the people who receives them… A unique and fascinating story about how seemingly-small things can have a huge effect on people’s lives.

Rainbow Rowell//Eleanor & Park5) Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell. Last but by no means least, one of my favourite books of all time! Eleanor & Park follows two teenagers meeting and falling in love for the first time, and both having to deal with varying degrees of mockery because of that. Eleanor, in particular, faces a lot of bullying – from her awful stepfather, to people at school who make fun of her for her weight. Rowell’s writing is brilliant, and her characters, as always, are spot-on. Highly, highly recommended.

#AntiBullyReads: Info & TBR!

Anti-Bullying Week will shortly be upon us, which means that it’s time for the Anti-Bullying Readathon: A now-yearly event hosted by Sarah Churchill, in which the goal is to read as many books that contain bullying (in any way, and with any level of severity) as possible – which, to be fair, is pretty much every YA book ever ^^’ – in order to raise awareness. Here are some informational links for your perusal:

For me, since I don’t really want to re-read anything at the moment (with one exception that you’ll see shortly), putting together a TBR meant trawling through that list for anything that looked remotely interesting / that I’d heard good things about, and – with respect to, well, what I actually have access to, and to what I’m in the mood for at the moment – I eventually managed to put together this tentative list:

J.K. Rowling//Harry Potter & the Philosopher's Stone illustrated1) Harry Potter & the Philosopher’s Stone (illustrated edition) by J.K. Rowling. The aforementioned re-read, though I’ve never read this edition before, so it’s quite a different experience. I’m already about halfway through this, and taking the time to savour its awesomeness, but hopefully I’ll be reading some more over the course of the readathon.

Robin Hobb//Assassin's Apprentice2) Assassin’s Apprentice by Robin Hobb. All I know about this book is that it’s a fantasy, and it apparently contains assassins. It was on the list, though, so presumably there’s some bullying in there, too! Fantasy is pretty much all I’ve wanted to read recently, as well, and this is conveniently a book that I already own, and hadn’t got round to reading yet. 😀

And after these two, I’m not so sure. I’ve reserved three more books at my local library to give myself some options, but a couple of them have to be ordered in, so I’m not sure if they’ll arrive in time, but hopefully I’ll be able to get to one or two of them before the week’s up… They are:

Lauren Oliver//Before I Fall Jandy Nelson//I'll Give You the Sun Malorie Blackman//Pig-Heart Boy