My Top 5 books for Those Entering a New Life Stage

There will always be those moments where your totally unsure of yourself. A period where one part or phase of your life is ending and another is beginning. During that period, you’ll probably unknowingly seek media, or people, that support the feelings of hesitancy, worry or uncertainty. Books- to me a remedy of everything- are mediums of connected-ness; there is nothing better than finding that book that just gets you.

If you are going through something similar to this, or know someone who is, here are my top 5 books that may help and soothe that inherent anxiety that comes with moving to a new stage of life. Whether you’re starting a new school, finishing school, moving to a new town or changing the way you see yourself and the world around you, these books are for you. These are the books that have been my friend in these times.

Ashleigh’s Top 5 Books for Change

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

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Summary;- Cath, a self-professed fan girl and fan fiction writer by night, is furiously trying to adjust to College life. Life is so much easier for Cath inside the world of her beloved characters- Simon Snow and Baz. Simon doesn’t have to deal with declaring a major, her room mate and her room mates strangely alluring best friend, or a sister who seems to have totally changed personalities.

Why you should read it; This book is one of the first books that I have found that gets the life and experiences of someone with Nerdy/Bookworm tendencies. This book helped me transition to a new college and degree and the great strides of independence that came with turning 21 and growing up for real. This book assured me that I was a fully functional human being and it was totally fine if I didn’t know where I was going with my life. It gave me warm fuzzy cuddles as I groped with accepting the real world over my much preferred fandom world, and really helped me understand myself and my reactions to other people more.

This is a book for my fellow nerds adjusting to full-fledged adult life. Perfect for someone like me who was moving from University/college to the real world or moving to a post-graduate qualification. This would also help someone brand new to University/College life.

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Paper Towns by John Green

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Summary:- Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adventurous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life—dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge—he follows. After their all-nighter ends, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew.

Why you should read it;- This wouldn’t be a list for books about life changes without mentioning a John Green book. Green spends a lot of time in all his books contemplating the things that make us human and allowing his characters moments of intense introspection. His characters are so similar to his readers, that he essentially allows those readers to cling onto this character development and internal change and facilitate similar moments for themselves. The reason I chose paper towns is simple; Q is one of those every-man characters who the readers can identify with. He attempts to take on life from a different perspective and while he figures out, in the end, it’s not the sort of life he wants to lead, he’s glad he did it anyway. This makes it the perfect book for readers heading towards a life changing decision. Green offers us multiple methods of coping and lets the reader decide what method best suits them; will you pull a Margot? Will you embrace life like Ben? Or will you try and decide with the most evidence like Q?

This book is a multi-generational book that could be used in a multitude of different situations. This book would go down just as well for a 15-17 year old as it would for someone struggling in their 30’s despite the “young adult” category it is often given.

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More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera

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Summary;- In the months after his father’s suicide, it’s been tough for 16-year-old Aaron Soto to find happiness again–but he’s still gunning for it. When Genevieve leaves for a couple of weeks, Aaron spends all his time hanging out with this new guy, Thomas. Aaron’s crew notices, and they’re not exactly thrilled. But Aaron can’t deny the happiness Thomas brings or how Thomas makes him feel safe from himself, despite the tensions their friendship is stirring with his girlfriend and friends. Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Why you should read it;- This book is so moving it’s almost unreal. The plethora of emotions you feel is incredible and this book will be a remarkable lifeline to so many people. For someone who is struggling to cope with depression, this is the book for them. For someone struggling with a part of themselves which others perceive to be wrong or too different and out there, this is the book for them. Everyone can find some part of themselves in Aaron, whether it is coping with loosing childhood friends, a family members death, a struggle with perceiving themselves and defining their unique identity, or the many other things Aaron struggles with. Silvera doesn’t hold back, and his insight into life is amazing. This book will soothe you and help you feel not so alone. It will also remind you, that things can be way worse and change shouldn’t be feared.

This book is for people going through mental and emotional changes; coming to terms with themselves, their heritage, their sexuality, their background and their connection to the big wide world.

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The Hunger Games Series by Suzanne Collins

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Summary:- In a dark vision of the near future, twelve boys and twelve girls are forced to appear in a live TV show called the Hunger Games. There is only one rule: kill or be killed.
When sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen steps forward to take her sister’s place in the games, she sees it as a death sentence. But Katniss has been close to death before. For her, survival is second nature. May the odds be ever in your favour

Why you should read it:- Sometimes, it’s the books we least expect that help us. The Hunger Games series is one of those. The series deals with grief in an intuitive way, and respectfully shows us PTSD in a way that’s recognizable and teaches that it’s ok not to be ok. It shows us the perils of relentlessly pursuing  vengeance but also lets the reader know that everyone has different ways of overcoming bad things. This book is also the perfect escapist tool; once you’ve been sucked in, you are glued to the pages and find a refuge with Katniss, Peeta and Gale inside the pages. This book will help you work through that inherent anxiety comes with changes you can’t control and help you understand that sometimes big problems can be shared so that you solely don’t have to carry the burden.

This is for anyone who’s feeling out of control or out of touch with their surroundings and hates the feeling. This is for people feeling dispassionate with their current life situation or for anyone looking for new life goals.

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Dumplin’ by Julie Murphy

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Summary:- Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson has always been at home in her own skin. With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked…until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back. Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any twiggy girl does.

Why you should read it:-This is one of the best self love books I have had the privilege to come across. This isn’t your typical underdog story. This is so much better. It is utterly unpredictable but so hopeful and helpful for anyone who has looked at their body and not felt totally happy (i’m sure most people). This isn’t just for people who’ve felt too big, I would suggest that someone who felt too under weight would find similar inspiration here. Murphy presents a variety of different personality types and body types for our introspection. None of them are totally at home in their own skin. All of them struggle against the self imposed societal norms. This book simultaneously encourages you to find your best assets and love your worst, while it makes you feel fired up and impassioned. This book makes you want to go out and hug everyone you meet telling them how beautiful they are.

This book is for people who are experiencing any sort of change in the way they see themselves; changes to their body, their perceptions of their body, their mental health and changes to levels of confidence.

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I hope that people find these recommendations useful and that they find the book in there for them. These are my own personal recommendations for books that have helped me through times of change and may not work for everyone. I tried to pick books different from what would usually be recommended, and tried to pick a variety of different genres, author styles and subject matter. Each book was chosen for a particular type of change that people usually encounter.

Please leave a comment down below providing your own recommendations for books for change.

Have an excellent day 🙂

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Review: City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

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City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

or: Third time lucky

Goodreads   ||   The Book Depository

Synopsis: To save her mother’s life, Clary must travel to the City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters – never mind that entering the city without permission is against the Law, and breaking the Law could mean death. To make things worse, she learns that Jace does not want her there, and Simon has been thrown in prison by the Shadowhunters, who are deeply suspicious of a vampire who can withstand sunlight. As Clary uncovers more about her family’s past, she finds an ally in mysterious Shadowhunter Sebastian. With Valentine mustering the full force of his power to destroy all Shadowhunters forever, their only chance to defeat him is to fight alongside their eternal enemies. But can Downworlders and Shadowhunters put aside their hatred to work together? While Jace realizes exactly how much he’s willing to risk for Clary, can she harness her newfound powers to help save the Glass City – whatever the cost?

If you remember last year, I became a late fan of the Mortal Instruments series. I was strongly of the opinion when I read the second book- The City of Ashes– that Clare’s writing had, and would, get better over the course of the series. But I wasn’t expecting the dramatic leap of skill that occurred between The City of Ashes and this book; the City of Glass. Clare brought her best work to the table, and really stunned me with her clever one liners, and her greatly improved character development and plot twists.

So much happened in this book that I really don’t know where to begin talking about it. This book is immensely dense, with important character development or plot devices occurring every few pages. Clare managed to jam three books of content into this one book alone. At times it was slightly overwhelming, but someone has taken the time- either Clare or a SWAT team of copy editors (I’m inclined to believe the latter)- to really put in some elbow grease and polish this book up. It didn’t feel like the frenetic froth of the similar situation in Fire Study by Maria V Snyder, rather it felt a lot more restrained and mindful, as if Clare deliberately and sat down with a thick compendium of a plan and placed everything carefully.

That being said, the one character who should have developed the most, didn’t. At all. Clary- ever infuriating Clary- seemed to be left behind by Clare’s intense character development work. Jace was lovingly fleshed out, as was Simon and Isabelle. Alec shocked me with the almost 360 flip around his character did. We met and saw the development of several key, important, new characters, and we bloody finally got to meet Jocelyn Fray. Thank Christ, I thought she’d never wake up.

Oh whoops I’ve just divulged a mammoth spoiler. SORRY

And while yes, some of the plot twists did feel kind of like they were pushing the realms of believable story telling, they were all so gripping I really struggled to care much. This book had me ensnared from about 2 quarter, and I furiously read the last half of the book over a few days. The end half of the book takes place within 4 Alacante (That’s totally not a spoiler it’s in the title of the book and in the blurb) days and nights and feels like a bit of a pipe dream. Clare successfully executes enough character development in the first 5 chapters for all major characters that you are truly desperate to find out what happens to them through the rest of the book.

Thankfully, Clare finally drops the noxious and utterly shudder inducing ‘incest’ troupe by the end of the book. But you still need to grimace through 80% of this book before your theories from the last two books are proven correct. It’s a slug but the breath of fresh air at the end is a welcome relief from something that may have made me abandon the series. That being said, I’m very interested to see what troupes Clare will apply to Jace and Clary in the next books of the series.

Clare manages to slip in an incredible amount of world building around the main plot line and takes the time in this book to explain the world as she goes- something she tended to forget to do for her readers in the first two books. This third book makes a lot of earlier pieces of information and plot points in the first two books make sense, something which is somewhat of a disappointment as Clare shouldn’t make her audience wait that long for explanation. As I did touch on earlier, it seems as if she has learned from this mistake in this book however, which makes me hope future books may be as forthcoming as this one.

Without spoiling this book, i’m reluctant to go into any further detail as this book needs to be read as spoiler free as possible.

When the opportunity next arises, I’m looking forward into diving into book number four but Clare wrapped up the end of this book so nicely i’m not in much of a hurry to pick up the illusive book 4 (I honestly haven’t seen it anywhere online or in bookstores! Where the devil is it?). Books have and will have preference over this series, because, as good as this book was, it didn’t knock my socks off.  Or should I say, It didn’t knock my punk rock stilettos off (sorry Isabelle but heals and long dresses are not practical for fighting no matter how bad ass you are. Own up to it girl. We can see through this smoke screen)

Review: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

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The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

or: Ten Year Old Ashleigh Would Have Loved this Book

Goodreads    ||   The Book Depository

Synopsis: It happens at the start of every November: the Scorpio Races. Riders attempt to keep hold of their water horses long enough to make it to the finish line. Some riders live. Others die. At age nineteen, Sean Kendrick is the returning champion. He is a young man of few words, and if he has any fears, he keeps them buried deep, where no one else can see them. Puck Connolly is different. She never meant to ride in the Scorpio Races. But fate hasn’t given her much of a chance. So she enters the competition — the first girl ever to do so. She is in no way prepared for what is going to happen.

When I was 10 years old, I went through a horse phase. Saddle Club was love, Saddle Club was life. I think most little girls went through a horse phase back in the early noughties.

Anyway, the point is- there is one I swear- that horse stories held my attention for a while from the ages of about 8-11. I love all animals, and think horses are great, but the frenetic energy of that time has been dead and gone for about 12 years… which makes me feel incredibly old when I think about it in that time framework.

But when I read the summary for this book back in early 2015, I knew I was going to end up reading it; it was only a matter of time. My inner 10 year old was rather insistent, and so, as a grown ass woman, I bought my first horse book in over 12 years. February 2016 was the time it seemed, as I needed something small to read while I waited on another book order, and this book had been sitting in my TBR pile for a few months.

This is not a childish story. At all. In fact, this story is definitely marketed at the age of 16 and older- not through adult themes, but more through the rich complexity of the writing. While the water horses are a chilling creation, courtesy of Stiefvater, they’re the sort of monster you find in a PG 13 film. But with Stiefvater’s well crafted plot and beautiful prose, these beasts definitely jump right off the page.

Do you know what I love about Stiefvater? She creates such human and believable characters, it’s really hard not to love them. Her characters are overwhelmingly human with real flaws, complexes and habits that are incredibly developed and real. It’s hard to not see them as people that you know in real life; the characters could honestly jump off the page and walk down the main street of town and no one would be any wiser.

That’s also the reason that I loved the romance between Sean and Puck. It’s not the knee -weakening, stars aligned, destined to be together shit. This is so real that you cant help but admire their honesty with each other. The slow burn creates so much empathy, and reader connection that it almost surprises you how much you end up caring about these characters.

While a short book overall, this wasn’t a fast moving plot. But it didn’t matter. It was slow and measured, yes, but I’m glad it was. It added to the authenticity of the story. And while yes, the ending and race itself was so damn predictable I could guess what was going to happen from chapter two, and while it played to those assumptions to a T, I’m glad it went that way. I would have been disappointed if it didn’t.

Stiefvater takes her time to comment on small towns and really develops the world Puck lives in, creating a complex mythology in a short period of time. And it must be an effective one, because this book sits at a solid 4.08 stars on Goodreads; people, it seems, agree with me.

At the end of the day, if you’re looking for an intense mystery, this isn’t the book to pick up. I would instead direct you to Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series. This book feels like the plot bunny that got away from Stiefvater and was definitely her book to play and create experience on settings, mythology and characters. But this book doesn’t read like a development piece and it’s not obvious at all when you’re reading it.

In summary; 10 year old Ashleigh would have loved this book. And 22 year old Ashleigh did as well.

OUTLANDER BOOK TAG!!!!

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When Sasha Alsberg at abookutopia created this tag a week or two ago, I knew I had to do it. This was confirmed when I saw Tashapolis‘ version today. If you’ve been around me for the last 6 months, then you’ll know that this story/show has become very dear to me and in honour of season 2 which is currently showing, I think it’s time we get some Outlander up in here!

The only rule in this tag was to try and avoid answering with Outlander to these questions.

  1. You touch some standing stones, and you get transported back in time.What year would you end up in? 

Oh I’d love to turn up in 1945. World War II fascinates me and I’d love to run around London or New York in the last year of the war. As a history major who focused on the early half of the 20th Century, the idea of being transported to such a pinnacle moment in modern history is beyond drool-worthy. Give me the war rations, the black outs and the general anxiety. Wouldn’t bother me.

… My mother tells me I’m strange constantly. Don’t worry I’m fine.

2. Claire is a good nurse. But what type of skill would you want that a fictional character excels at?

I would love to have the abilities of Ruby from Dangerous Minds by Alexandra Bracken. Even though the Dangerous Minds trilogy constantly reminds us how dangerous Ruby is and even though she runs into more than a few problems during the series, I honestly think it’s an awesome skill/ability. She’s incredibly empathetic to the people around her and she’s saved people she loves on more than one occasion. I would obviously only use the ability for the greater good…. *awkward cough*

3. Jamie and Claire are the ultimate relationship goals. Who is your favourite fictional couple?

OH there are SO many character I could answer with right now. Not all are canon…. Anyhoo, my answer for this question has to be Sydney and Adrian from the Blood Lines series by Richelle Mead. OH MY LORD. I LOVE these two together. Honestly, they were just made for each other. I’ve got so many Sydrian feels right now just thinking about it. OWIE!

4. The ending of Outlander was shocking. What is one book that you read that totally blew your mind? 

Oh man. Do I have some stories to tell you… Trying to pick just one is hard, because there has been a few books that have ripped the carpet out from under me. Outlander was obviously one of them, even though I knew what was happening as I had watched the series. But for this tag, I’m going to have to say Rebel Belle by Rachel Hawkins. It was a scream of a book and so much darn fun. The dialogue was witty, and southern charm dripped from every inch. I loved the major plot twists towards the end of the book. The end was just so shocking, it was like someone came up and shoved you out of your backless stilettos while you were standing at the top of some steep stairs.

5. Scotland has lots of castles and we see a few in Outlander. What fictional kingdom would you want to live in?

I think the answer to this is plainly obvious…

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6. Outlander has some very steamy scenes. What is your favourite romance novel?

Oooh… this is hard. A lot of the steamiest scenes in the books that I read happen to be in books that aren’t strictly romance. Most books I read only have romance as a sub-plot to the larger YA/Sci-fi backdrop. Given this, I’m going to break the rules of this tag and simply pick Outlander. Because lord, this book had me sweatin like a sinner in church. It was fire. It was god damn panty dropping. Miss Gabaldon  certainly knows how to write her romance scenes. (PSA: Don’t read or watch Outlander if you’re below the age of 18. Trust me my dears, you won’t be ready no matter how mature you are. Promise Aunty Ash you won’t read it until you reach the big 18) 

7. The Jacobite Rebellion is a huge plot point in Outlander. What is one of your favourite battles from a book?

Oh OH. SIT DOWN KIDDIES. I’ve read and seen a lot of final battles in my time. But I think the most intense one has to go to the one that literally choked the air out of me; The Other Side of Dawn by John Marsden. The last book in the Tomorrow Series, this book is one non-stop final battle that goes through varying stages. The tension of the previous 6 books culminates in one final anxiety driven conclusion that made 15 year old Ashleigh sob. Multiple times. Sometimes, I couldn’t bear to look at the page and read what was coming next. Didn’t want to know what stupid thing Ellie was going to do next. AUGH THIS BOOK. It’s been a good 7 years and I still can’t get over this book.

8. Jamie and Claire get married very unexpectedly. What fictional character would you like to marry on a whim?

Oh DUDE. I literally wrote a whole blog post about this particular gentleman. And honestly, in an absolute heartbeat I’d be at the end of the aisle in my best dress. My Outlander style wedding would definitely be to one, Mr Fitzwilliam Darcy. Because, as we know, it is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.

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9. Scotland is a very beautiful place. What fictional world would you love to visit?

OOOOOHHHH. THIS IS SO HARD…. uh…..

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How do I choose?

Bloody hell let’s just go with Middle Earth

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10. If you could change the past, would you?

Both Sasha and Natasha said no to this question and I can totally understand their reasoning, but I actually dont agree. I would try to change the past, but I’d be awfully selective. I am a firm beleiver that somethings may very well be a fixed point in time, and obviously, to avoid erasing myself from existance, as well as many other people, one would have to be very delicate when fiddling with time. In the end, I would probably alter certain events that SHOULDNT have happened and didn’t overly mess with time.

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SO, laddies and lasses, that was me Outlander tag ye ken?

I here by tag the following by name: Adventures of a Bibliophile , Alicia from Hashtag Love Books and Bookworm Maniac

I also tag absolutely everyone else that wants to do it! Because I never get tagged in things and I want everyone to have all the blog opportunities in the world.

Have a gif of Jamie eating a bannock to fill you for your voyage back into the interwebs.

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