Random (but not really)

Thursday, September 8, 2022

The Books of August

Husband MaterialQuite a few audio books this month. One was our travel book, the others were my exercise / cleaning books.

I’ve had a lot of cleaning to catch up on.

Lots of rereads, but I did manage some new releases–including three books that were released in August. That rarely happens–I tend to put off reading new releases for no rational reason. But these were mostly cozy mysteries, and I was very much in the mood for cozies.

Plus Husband Material, which is not a cozy, but a rom-com is just as good. And it was Alexis Hall! HUZZAH!

I want to give props to That Time I Got Drunk and Yeeted a Love Potion at a Werewolf. You’ll not I only gave it a middling rating, but it was a bunch of stuff I don’t care for (fated mate, weird mating rituals, tentacles, and a LOT of sex) and I still really enjoyed it.

I was just a little weirded out by some of the boinking bits.

If you like cozy mysteries, I highly recommend Charlie Cochrane‘s Lindenshaw Mysteries. The first book I was a little meh on, but I’ve loved every book since.

Mystery

Lock, Stock and Peril (2022) Charlie Cochrane (Lindenshaw Mysteries) (8/10)
Death at the Deep Dive (2022) Josh Lanyon (Secrets and Scrabble) (7.5/10)
Purloined Poinsettia (2022) Dahlia Donovan (Motts Cold Case Mystery) (7/10)
Give Unto Others (2022) Donna Leon (Commissario Brunetti) (7/10)

Purloined Poinsettia
Fantasy

That Time I Got Drunk and Yeeted a Love Potion at a Werewolf (2022) Kimberly Lemming (Mead Mishaps) 7/10
Of Claws and Fangs (2022) Faith Hunter (Jane Yellowrock) (7/10)

Romance

Hottie Scotty and Mr. Porter (2016) R. Cooper (8.5/10)
For Better or Worse (2017) R. Cooper  (8/10)
Husband Material (2022) Alexis Hall (London Calling) (8/10)
The Labours of Lord Perry Cavendish (2021) Joanna Chambers (Winterbourne) (8/10)
The Turners by Cat Sebastian: The Soldier’s Scoundrel (2016) (7/10), The Lawrence Browne Affair (2017) 8/10

Non-Fiction

Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions (2009) Dan Ariely (8.5/10)

Audio

The Rook, Audio Edition (2012) Daniel O’Malley narrated by Susan Duerden (10/10)
Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch narrated by Kobna Holdbrook-Smith: Midnight Riot, Audio Edition (2012) (9.5/10), Moon Over Soho, Audio Edition (2011) (9/10), Whispers Under Ground (2012) (8.5/10)

 

Reading Challenge 2022 So FarI’ve only (only! HA!) read 160 books so far this year, but only 38% have been rereads, which is down from last year (and those rereads include 18 audio books (Almost all my audio books are rereads.) Plus, I’ve read 11 non-fiction books so far–I read only one last year. And that’s actually a decent pace for me for non-fiction, as I tend to read it much slower, and often go back and reread passages.

Plus, according to Goodreads I’ve read 1292% of my goal for the year!

(Yeah, goodreads numbers are off–but that 160 is the number of reviews I’ve written, so that’s the accurate number. (Except that I haven’t written reviews of a handful of books non-fiction I’ve read, but that’s a tale for another day.))

 


Written by Michelle at 8:48 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Monthly Round-Up  

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Mental Health Representation in Books: Addiction and Eating Disorders

Addiction

 

There are several different kinds of stories that deal with addiction.

One is watching a main character spiral until they hit bottom and work to achieve their sobriety.

“I’m not an alcoholic.”

“If I asked you right now to go one solid week without a single alcoholic drink, would you be able to?”

The idea of facing his mother without that barrier, of trying to sleep without the pillow of numbness, made James’s insides squirrelly. He didn’t know because he’d never tried. He’d never had a reason to try.

A.M. Arthur, Getting It Right

I think some of the books that do this best are the ones where you follow a character over the course of a series, so you have time to see the dawning of awareness that they have a problem, as well as the struggle and work to gain and keep their sobriety.

 

He couldn’t lie anymore about using alcohol as a way to cope with his anger and pain. Maybe he wasn’t addicted, but his behaviour was just as self-destructive. Time would tell if stepping outside of his life in Cardiff for a few months would actually change anything for him.

Dahlia Donovan, The Lion Tamer (Sin Bin)

The thing about the Sin Bin series is that although only the final two stories are about Scottie, you watch him slowly get worse in the preceding books, which makes his recovery in the final book satisfying.

 

A second kind of story is where a character struggles with their sobriety over the course of the story.

Medlock gave him an appraising glance. “It’s like that, is it?” And then he took the bottle and the glass and poured the contents of both out the window.

“What the hell are you doing?” He could ill afford another bottle.

“If you wanted to drink it, you would have done so hours ago. I think you wanted not to drink it, so I helped.”

Cat Sebastian, The Ruin of a Rake

 

Beyond the importance of routine, it was vital to stay healthy in times of stress. Swift had badly abused his body for most of his life. His current state of health required consciousness and commitment.

Josh Lanyon, Come Unto These Yellow Sands

 

This was what I did. Things got bad, I didn’t want anyone to see me weak and broken, so I decided I’d wait until I was just a tiny bit stronger, and then I’d call. But in the space between shame and a public face lay the ocean of demons just waiting for the drop of blood that would set it churning. And I nicked myself with pride every time.

Roan Parrish, Riven

I feel like these struggle are incredibly important—they remind us that sobriety is work. Sometimes you fail, but that as long as you’re alive, you can try again and again.

 

Lifes Too ShortA third type of story is where a main character doesn’t struggle with their sobriety, yet their past still affects their actions as well as how they see themselves.

He hated telling people about his drinking problem, hated the way it changed how they looked at him, how it colored every interaction from that point onward.

Annabeth Albert, Arctic Sun

 

“Laudanum.” He allowed the word to settle into the conversation, waited for her face to slowly change to a mask of confusion. “I don’t refuse it because it makes me muzzy-headed, because it gives me vivid dreams, or even because I dislike the taste. I refuse it because I developed an addiction to it when I was young. It was so severe that when I was at Eton, I took a dose that nearly killed me. I stopped breathing.”

She inhaled and tried to pull her hand away. Christian held on tightly.

“When I was… imbibing, I would set my day by my doses. It took over everything I was, everything I wanted. There is no safe dose, not for me.”

Courtney Milan, Once Upon a Marquess

If an author is going to do this, I want to see the work. Representation is good, but I want it to be more than lip service. Just a mention with no further discussion of the struggle feels like a disservice to those who are currently struggling and want to gain / maintain sobriety.

 

Just as important is where the main character has to deal with a family member who is an addict—either sober or actively using.

Dad had not had a good day. He’d woken up from a nap to a war movie playing on TV that had triggered some memories and anxiety he’d tried to walk off. Walks helped when he wanted a drink,

R Cooper, Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut

 

I knew what was coming, like following a script written specifically for us. And yet every time I hoped this time would be different. This time he would really mean what he said. This time he would give up his brandy. So when he failed and I stumbled upon him defiantly swigging from a flask or passed out in his chair, an empty bottle at his feet, it was doubly painful.

Anna Lee Huber, Secrets in the Mist

 

“It’s a disease. It’s not my fault. I can’t help it!”

“It is your fault! The disease didn’t decide to drink. The disease didn’t go find your purse. The disease didn’t walk out the door and down the street to Lucky’s. The disease didn’t walk to the back row where the vodka is and pick the bottle up off the shelf—”

“I didn’t go to Lucky’s. You never understand.”

“— and walk up to the register and pay for it. The disease didn’t open the bottle, Mom. The disease didn’t drink it, either. You did. It is your fault. It’s always your fault.”

Heidi Cullinan & Marie Sexton, Family Man

 

One of the things I appreciate about the last two quotes is that they allow the characters to be angry. And that anger is complicated.

Why do I want to read about the struggles of other people? It’s multi-fold, really. It is nice to read about problems that are not my own, and because it reminds me that others might not be going through what I am, but they may be going through their own struggles—ones I don’t see.

 

(SAMHSA)

National Helpline: 800-622-4357

Help4WV

Substance Use Resource Center (Blue Cross Blue Shield)

Mental Health and Substance Abuse (USA.gov)

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Resources (WVU)

 


 

Eating Disorders

The Noblemans Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks

 

In some ways, eating disorders are similar to addiction. Except you cannot avoid the substance you have a troubled relationship with.

“Okay, so Maxine. Coke and booze. Plus she had issues with food. She ditched the coke and the booze, right? Went to meetings, did the whole bit. Took her a while, but she did it. After she’d been clean for about five years, you know what she told me? She said that she didn’t talk about it much at meetings because people didn’t take it serious, but the hardest thing for her to get under control— harder than coke and booze? Her eating disorder.”

“What? Why?”

He nodded. “You can draw a clean line with coke and booze. Say never again, and stay away from them, period. Food? You gotta eat that shit three times a day every day for the rest of your life, and you gotta make choices about it every time.

Riven, Roan Parrish

 

NEDA

(800) 931-2237

National Institute of Mental Health – Eating Disorders (NIMH)

National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders

Eating Disorder Resources (WVU)

 


 

Books with Characters Dealing with Addiction

The Secret, Book, & Scone Society
 Characters seek help:

The Lion Tamer (2018) Dahlia Donovan (Sin Bin series) main character [alcohol] (Contemporary Romance)

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (2017) Mackenzi Lee, main character [alcohol] (Historical Fantasy)

Open for Business (2016) Angel Martinez (Brandywine Investigations) main character [alcohol] (Contemporary Fantasy)

Black and Blue (1997) Ian Rankin (Inspector Rebus) main character [alcohol] (Contemporary Mystery)

Characters are sober, but sometimes struggle:

The Secret, Book, & Scone Society (2017) Ellery Adams (The Secret, Book, & Scone Society) main character [alcohol] (Contemporary Mystery)

Arctic Sun (2019) Annabeth Albert (Frozen Hearts) main character [alcohol] (Contemporary Romance)

The Duchess Deal (2017) Tessa Dare (Girl Meets Duke) main character [laudanum] (Historical Romance)

Clean (2012) Alex Hughes, main character (Contemporary Fantasy)

Come Unto These Yellow Sands (2011) Josh Lanyon, main character [drugs] (Contemporary Mystery)

Once Upon a Marquess (2015) Courtney Milan (Worth Saga) main character [laudanum] (Historical Romance)

Jericho Candelarios Gay DebutRiven (2018) Roan Parrish (Riven) main character [drugs] (Contemporary Romance)

Raze (2019) Roan Parrish (Riven) main character [drugs] (Contemporary Romance)

The Ruin of a Rake (2017) Cat Sebastian (The Turner Series) main character [alcohol] (Historical Romance)

Two Rogues Make a Right (2020) Cat Sebastian (Seducing the Sedgwicks) main character [laudanum] (Historical Romance)

Secondary characters with an addiction:

Baked Fresh (2015) Annabeth Albert (Portland Heat) secondary character (Contemporary Romance)

Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut (2018) R Cooper, parental [alcohol] (Contemporary Romance)

Family Man (2017) Heidi Cullinan & Marie Sexton, parent [alcohol] (Contemporary Romance)

Secrets in the Mist (2016) Anna Lee Huber, parent [alcohol] (Historical Mystery)

Jar City  (2000) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder (Inspector Erlendur) adult child [drugs] (Contemporary Mystery)

Life’s Too Short (2021) Abby Jimenez, sibling [drugs] (Contemporary Romance)

The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy (2018) Mackenzi Lee, sibling [alcohol] (Historical Fantasy)

 


 

Books with Characters Dealing with an Eating Disorder

 

Getting it Right (2015) A.M. Arthur (Restoration) supporting character (Romance)

Boyfriend Material (2020) Alexis Hall (London Calling) main character (Romance)

Husband Material (2022) Alexis Hall (London Calling) main character (Romance)

Three Stupid Weddings (2018) Ann Gallagher, main character (Romance)

Arctic Sun (2019) Annabeth Albert (Frozen Hearts) main character (Romance)

Haven Investigations series by Lissa Kasey, main character (Contemporary Mystery): Model Citizen (2016), Model Bodyguard (2016), Model Investigator (2017), Model Exposure (2017)

The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks (2021) Mackenzi Lee, main character (Historical Fantasy)

 

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Call or text 988

 

Why Representation in Books Is Important
Mental Health Representation in Books: Depression
Mental Health Representation in Books: Anxiety
Mental Health Representation in Books: Grief
Mental Health Representation in Books: PTSD

 

Written by Michelle at 7:58 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Mental Health  

Friday, September 2, 2022

Mental Health Representation in Books: PTSD

Although I cannot judge the accuracy of the presentation, I want to mention books with characters with PTSD.

The-Anatomists-Wife
PTSD has been called a lot of things over the centuries: acute mania, soldier’s heart, shell shock, gas hysteria, battle fatigue, combat fatigue, war neurosis, Combat Stress Reaction. It is not a new diagnosis, just simply a renaming of something that has been around for as long as soldiers have gone to war.

For as long as people have suffered from violence and upheaval and has been in written history since the Epic of Gilgamesh.

Consider that many people need to be taught to kill—that in conflicts, the enemy is dehumanized—seen as little more than animals and thus unworthy of life. It is a small wonder that violence can cause disorder, as one tries to understand the inexplicable.

To me, PTSD isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of our humanity.

In the list of books below, I’ve tried to give some details as to what to expect from the various stories, but it’s sometimes difficult to do without giving away parts of the stories.

Additionally, I’ve ordered the books from makes me a “little sad” to “punch in the stomach” hard to read. So as you get towards the end of the list, you might want to check other reviews if you’re leery. Because I don’t know how to compare the on-the-page violence and horror of Paul Cornell’s Shadow Police series with the on-the-page sexual assault in Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson series. (I find the Shadow Police series MUCH easier to read than Iron Kissed, FWIW.)

But what all of the books do have in common is the character’s PTSD does not magically “get better”.

The Mystery of NevermoreBecause that is utter bullshit.

In the handful of series I list below, it sometimes takes several books for a character to come to terms with their need for help, and to take the steps needed to work towards getting better.

These are some of the books I like best, because they don’t attempt to sugarcoat how hard the process of getting help is (this is true for ANY mental health issue, not just PTSD). And in some of the books, even characters already in therapy have relapses, which is something often ignored in fiction—that once the character falls in love or goes to therapy everything isn’t immediately okay.

Therapy requires being honest with yourself (and your therapist) and recognizing there will be setbacks.

The reason I think these stories are important is because I am old enough to remember some of the fall-out after the Vietnam war. When veterans were harangued and worse for participating in that war—even when they often had no choice in the matter. It was our responsibility as a society to care for them, and we let them down.

It is our duty to see and acknowledge those who have served our country, and to make sure they are allowed to say what the need—feel what they need.

It is also important for us to see and acknowledge those who have gone through other traumas and are struggling.

Another important point is that one person’s “better” is not going to be the same as another person’s “better” and you can’t judge anyone’s journey to any recovery with anyone else’s. One person’s good day might be finishing a report or running a marathon, while for another a good day might be getting out of bed and brushing their teeth.

London FallingWith that, I want to give you just one quote that. I adore more than almost any other about mental health struggles.

Calvin hardly ever talked about his therapist or their sessions together. Not that I expected him to. It was his journey. So long as he sought discussion with someone who would guide him to discovering self-forgiveness and healthy coping mechanisms, I didn’t care if he never shared a word.

CS Poe, The Mystery of the Moving Image (2018)

 

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Call or text 988

Veterans Crisis Line Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 or text to 838255

PTSD and Shell Shock (History.com)

The Shock of War (Smithsonian Magazine)

History of PTSD in Veterans: Civil War to DSM-5 (VA)

A Brief History of PTSD and How it Was Discovered

 


 

Books with Characters Dealing with PTSD

The Last Sun

Hottie Scotty and Mr. Porter (2016) R Cooper, tertiary character [war] (Contemporary Romance)

Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut (2018) R Cooper, parental [war] (Contemporary Romance)

Lessons in Love (2008) Charlie Cochrane (Cambridge Fellows) main character [parental suicide] (Historical Mystery)

A Sanctuary for Soulden (2021) J.A. Rock & Lisa Henry (The Lords of Bucknall Club) main character [war] (Historical Mystery)

McAlistair’s Fortune (2009) Alissa Johnson (Providence Series) main character [war] (Historical Romance)

Hither, Page (2019) Cat Sebastian (Page & Sommers) main character [war] (Historical Mystery)

The Anatomist’s Wife (2012) Anna Lee Huber (Lady Darby) main character [partner abuse] (Historical Mystery)

The Duchess War (2012) Courtney Milan (Brothers Sinister) main character [parental neglect, mob violence] (Historical Romance)

A Dangerous Deceit (2017) Alissa Johnson (The Thief-Takers) main character [institutionalization] (Historical Mystery)

Snow & Winter by CS Poe, main character [war] (Contemporary Mystery): The Mystery of Nevermore (2016), The Mystery of the Curiosities (2017), The Mystery of the Moving Image (2018), The Mystery of the Bones (2019)

Nearly a Lady (2011) Alissa Johnson (Haverston Family) main character [war] (Historical Romance)

Love In The Afternoon (2010) Lisa Kleypas (Hathaways) main character [war] (Historical Romance)

Hither, Page

Two Rogues Make a Right (2020) Cat Sebastian (Seducing the Sedgwicks)  [military, parental abuse & neglect] (Historical Romance)

Big Bad Wolf series by Charlie Adhara, main character [assault & injury] (Contemporary Fantasy): The Wolf at the Door (2018), The Wolf at Bay (2018), Thrown to the Wolves (2019), Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2020), Cry Wolf (2021)

Kitty Goes to War (2010) Carrie Vaughn (Kitty the Werewolf) secondary characters [war] (Contemporary Fantasy)

An Agreement with the Soldier (2021) Sadie Bosque, main character [war] (Historical Romance)

Bayou Moon (2010) Ilona Andrews, main character [war] (Contemporary Fantasy)

Burn for Me (2014) Ilona Andrews, main character [war] (Contemporary Fantasy)

Galaxies and Oceans  (2018) N.R. Walker, main character [partner abuse (off page)] (Contemporary Romance)

Rend (2018) Roan Parrish (Riven) main character [abuse & abandonment] (Contemporary Romance)

Alpha & Omega (2007) Patricia Briggs (Alpha & Omega) main character [repeated abuse by pack, rape (off page)] (Contemporary Fantasy)

Bone Crossed (2009) Patricia Briggs (Mercy Thompson) main character [assault, rape (on page in previous book)] (Contemporary Fantasy)

The Soldier’s Dark Secret (2015) Marguerite Kaye, main character [war] (Historical Romance)

nearly a lady

Getting it Right (2015) A.M. Arthur (Restoration) main character, supporting character [assault, abuse, discussion of abuse] (Contemporary Romance)

Inspector Ian Rutledge series by Charles Todd starting with A Test of Wills (1996) main character [war] (Historical Mystery)

After the Scrum (2014) Dahlia Donovan (Sin Bin series) main character [assault] (Contemporary Romance)

The Lion Tamer (2018) Dahlia Donovan (Sin Bin series) main character [parental abuse] (Contemporary Romance)

The Botanist (2017) Dahlia Donovan (Sin Bin series) supporting character [assault (rescue on page)] (Contemporary Romance)

The Onion Girl (2002) and Widdershins, (2006) by Charles de Lint main character [parental abuse, rape] (Contemporary Fantasy)

Shadow Police series by Paul Cornell: London Falling (2013), The Severed Streets (2014) main character [parental death, assault], Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? (2016) main character [murder (on page in second book)] (Contemporary Fantasy)

Tarot Sequence by KD Edwards, main character, secondary characters [assault, rape, attempted murder] (Contemporary Fantasy): The Last Sun (2018), The Hanged Man (2019)

Simply Crafty series by  Lissa Kasey, main character [war, kidnapping] (Contemporary Fantasy): Stalked by Shadows (2019), Possessed by Shadows (2021)

Haven Investigations by Lissa Kasey main character [war, parental abuse, sibling suicide] (Contemporary Mystery): Model Citizen (2016), Model Bodyguard (2016), Model Investigator (2017), Model Exposure (2017)

 

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Call or text 988

 

Why Representation in Books Is Important
Mental Health Representation in Books: Depression
Mental Health Representation in Books: Anxiety
Mental Health Representation in Books: Grief
Mental Health Representation in Books: Addiction and Eating Disorders

 

Written by Michelle at 6:58 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Mental Health  

Wednesday, August 31, 2022

Mental Health Representation in Books: Grief

Sweetest in the GaleGrief is something I have struggled with since I was quite young. I do not think I have more grief than anyone else, or worse grief than anyone else, it is just that it takes me a while to process everything, and to come to terms with loss.

Everyone deals with grief in their own way, so all I can offer here are stories and quotes that resonated with me. That perhaps helped me come to terms with my own losses, or reflected how I have reacted.

 

Though I’ve devoted many sleepless nights since youth to anxiously concocting scenarios in which the people I love died and I was left alone, it’s only now she’s gone that I realize I was afraid of the wrong thing. It’s not the moment the world splits in two, it’s all the days after, trying to live a cleaved life and pretend you never knew it whole and don’t feel the space of that missing piece that can never be repaired or replaced.

Mackenzi Lee, The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks

 

Did he intend to wait until he no longer feared another loss?

If so, he’d never move on. Never fall in love again.

Sweetest in the Gale, Olivia Dade

 

Hank had still died, and Griffin had slid into that dark place he hoped never to revisit. Caring too much about another person was dangerous and meant he was destined to lose big.

Annabeth Albert, Arctic Sun

 

“In any case, it’s been over a year now, hasn’t it? You must be learning to get on without him.”

The words were spoken carelessly, and though I knew she meant well, they still lodged in my chest like a splinter. As if one could quantify the exact period of mourning one should endure. As if the pain automatically lessened once enough time had passed.

Anna Lee Huber, This Side of Murder

 

You fear that seizing the happiness you are entitled to will be somehow disrespectful to those you have grieved for.

J.A. Rock & Lisa Henry, A Case for Christmas

Galaxies and Oceans

 

“Yeah, it hurts. Understanding a thing doesn’t make it hurt less.”

A.M. Arthur, Getting It Right

 

Grief was like the great Southern Ocean; it moved in ebbs and flows, often turbulent and rough, or peaceful and settled, and even over time when I could navigate the waters, the tide never stopped.

Galaxies and Oceans, N.R. Walker

 

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Call or text 988

Veterans Crisis Line Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 or text to 838255

Resources for Coping with Grief (ALA / APA)

Grief Resources (Good Grief)

Grief and Loss (CDC)

Grief: Coping with the loss of your loved one (APA)

 


 

Books with Characters Dealing with Grief

 

Served Hot (2015) Annabeth Albert (Portland Heat) main character [partner] (Romance)

At Your Service (2018) Sandra Antonelli main character [partner] (Mystery)

Getting it Right (2015) A.M. Arthur (Restoration) supporting character [partner] (Romance)

The Tropic of Serpents  (2014) Marie Brennan (Lady Trent) main character [partner] (Fantasy)

An Unnatural Vice  (2017) KJ Charles (Sins of the Cities) main character [partner] (Romance)

Hottie Scotty and Mr. Porter (2016) R Cooper seconday character [partner] (Romance)

Sweetest in the Gale (2020) Olivia Dade, main character [partner] (Romance)

This Side of Murder (2017) Anna Lee Huber (Verity Kent) main character [partner] (Mystery)

Mrs. Drew Plays Her Hand (2012) Carla Kelly, main character [partner] (Romance)

The Haunted Heart: Winter (2013) Josh Lanyon, [partner] main character

Single Malt (2017) Layla Reyne (Agents Irish & Whisley) main character [partner] (Mystery)

It Takes Two to Tumble (2017) Cat Sebastian (Seducing the Sedgwicks) main character [partner, spouse] (Romance)

Whiteout (2017) Elyse Springer (Seasons of Love) main character [partner] (Romance)

Lady Helena Investigates (2018) Jane Steen, main character [partner] (Mystery)

Galaxies and Oceans  (2018) N.R. Walker main character [partner] (Romance)

An Agreement with the Soldier (2021) Sadie Bosque, main character [sibling] (Romance)

A Fashionable Indulgence (2015) KJ Charles (Society of Gentlemen) main character [sibling] (Romance)

After the Scrum (2014) Dahlia Donovan (Sin Bin series) main character [sibling] (Romance)

Haven Investigations by Lissa Kasey, main character [sibling]:  Model Citizen (2016),  Model Bodyguard (2016), Model Exposure (2017), Model Investigator (2017)

Take a Hint, Dani Brown (2020) Talia Hibbert (Brown Sisters) main character [immediate family members] (Romance)

Life’s Too Short (2021) Abby Jimenez, main character, supporting characters [immediate family members] (Romance)

Banquet of Lies (2013) Michelle Diener (Regency London) main character [parent] (Mystery)

dream_thieves

The Lion Tamer (2018) Dahlia Donovan (Sin Bin series) main character [parent] (Romance)

Husband Material (2022) Alexis Hall (London Calling) main character [parent] (Romance)

Secrets in the Mist (2016) Anna Lee Huber, [parent] (Mystery)

The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks (2021) Mackenzi Lee, main character [parent] (Fantasy)

Best Laid Plans (2021) Roan Parrish (Garnet Run) main character [parents] (Romance)

The Dream Thieves (2013) Maggie Stiefvater [parent] (Raven Boys)

Jar City  (2000) Arnaldur Indridason translated by Bernard Scudder (Inspector Erlendur) main character, secondary character (Mystery)

Heir to a Curse (2020) Lissa Kasey (Romancing a Curse) main character (Fantasy)

A Case for Christmas (2021) J.A. Rock & Lisa Henry (The Lords of Bucknall Club) main character

A Sanctuary for Soulden (2021) J.A. Rock & Lisa Henry (The Lords of Bucknall Club) main character (Mystery)

Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress (2015) Theresa Romain, main character (The Matchmaker Trilogy) main character (Romance)

 

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Call or text 988

 

Why Representation in Books Is Important
Mental Health Representation in Books: Depression
Mental Health Representation in Books: Anxiety
Mental Health Representation in Books: PTSD
Mental Health Representation in Books: Addiction and Eating Disorders

 

Written by Michelle at 5:24 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Depression,Mental Health  

Monday, August 29, 2022

Mental Health Representation in Books: Anxiety

Living with anxiety can be even stranger than living with depression. Because everyone feels anxious sometimes, so how do you know if it’s normal anxiety or excessive anxiety?

Play It Again

First through, you have to recognize it is anxiety, not physical illness.

Hannah felt as if her body and her soul were shaking at different frequencies, like she could fall out of her own flesh at any moment. Her heart pounded so hard, she was worried it might actually come loose. That didn’t sound medically possible, but anxiety could be a real bitch sometimes.

Talia Hibbert, Untouchable

Because anxiety can feel like something is physically wrong; your brain can create physical symptoms.

Martin bit his lip, hard, and breathed through his nose, trying to slow down the panicky beat of his heart. The sensation wasn’t unfamiliar. He’d just never realized what this was before, that a person could have tiny little bursts of terror from only a few words.

R Cooper, His Mossy Boy

Even knowing what is happening doesn’t make it easier to cope, because you don’t have control over it.

Simon wished the floor would open up and swallow him. He sucked in a tight breath through nostrils narrowed with panic and squeezed his eyes shut tight so he couldn’t see himself be seen.

Roan Parrish, Better Than People

Conventionally Yours

You have to try and pay attention to how you feel, so you can find the things that cause problems—that set off your anxiety.

(T)alking on the phone gave him enough anxiety as it was. Never knowing whether a call might turn nasty made him dread it every time he was given a ring.

Aidan Wayne, Play It Again

Even when you know what it is, even when you have tools to deal with it, it still doesn’t go away.

That was the thing about anxiety— worries over whether to take the medication and when could be worse than the primary symptoms sometimes.

Annabeth Albert, Conventionally Yours

Like depression, anxiety feels like something you should be able to deal with—to control—with willpower alone.

“(W)hat if you’d gone to Sidney’s and said you were super anxious and couldn’t do the show in that exact moment?”

“But I’d said I would.”

“I know, but you… couldn’t.” She’d gone all gentle. “You had a panic attack. It’s not like you could just reschedule it for when it was more convenient.”

“Sometimes I can cover it up for a while.”

Kris Ripper, The Love Study

The Love Study

But that’s not how mental health works.

There are things you can do.

He cut off his thought spiral and pictured windshield wipers clearing the troubling images from his mind.

Roan Parrish, Best Laid Plans

Tricks you can use to redirect your brain.

Cooper felt the discomfort that had been prickling at the base of his skull since the market bloom across his skin. You don’t belong here. He told that voice to fuck off

Charlie Adhara, Thrown to the Wolves

Even physical things like exercise to burn off what feels like excess energy.

(T)he high school therapist who told him exercise might help reduce his anxiety, about consequently becoming obsessed with exercise.

Alison Cochrun, The Charm Offensive

Thrown To The Wolves

To move when remaining still is overwhelming.

He was barely holding himself together and had enough nervous energy running through his body to fuel a walk to Sussex and back. He didn’t think he could take being cooped up in a carriage.

Cat Sebastian, The Lawrence Browne Affair

But even with tricks, you still doubt yourself.

Why? What the hell about him had Park seen and thought, Oh yes, anxiety-ridden loner with a temper sharper than a serpent’s tooth and a deep-seated fear of change whose longest successful relationship is with an equally judgmental cat? Swoon. It seemed too improbable for words.

Charlie Adhara, Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Because the things you believe about yourself may be irrational, but they are still things you believe.

It was as if he thought he only had one chance and he had to find the right idea, the perfect idea, before he began. As if he thought I might not get him another box, and another and another, until he’d created every single display he might want.

Roan Parrish, Raze

Best Laid Plans

You can’t help yourself.

“It’s hard for me to understand why anyone wouldn’t want you in their life.”

I snorted. “Have you met me?”

“Please don’t laugh this off. I mean it.”

“I know. It’s just easier to push people away than watch them leave.” The words hung there, and I wished I could suck them back into my mouth.

Alexis Hall, Boyfriend Material

You just have to remind yourself that you can keep going.

I nodded and told myself the thing that I knew was true: This cannot actually kill you. Sometimes it helped.

Roan Parrish, Riven

One day at a time.

“People like to throw around words like closure and forgiveness, but I’ve long suspected that’s because they don’t want to admit how often healing is cruelly arbitrary. Some things just hurt until they don’t anymore and no one can tell you why, so they pretend you must have gotten closure.”

Charlie Adhara, Cry Wolf

Because it cannot actually kill you. Even when it feels like it’s trying.

 

 

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Call or text 988

 

Veterans Crisis Line Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 or text to 838255

Here’s Why Your Anxiety Can Cause Some Pretty Gnarly Physical Symptoms

Physical Symptoms of Anxiety: How Does It Feel?

How to Help Someone with Anxiety (John Hopkins)

Tips for Living With Anxiety (WebMD)

Anxiety Overview (VA)

Generalized Anxiety Disorder (ADAA)

Anxiety Disorders: Overview (NIH)

 


 

Poisoned PrimroseBig Bad Wolf series by Charlie Adhara, main character (Contemporary Fantasy): The Wolf at the Door (2018), The Wolf at Bay (2018), Thrown to the Wolves (2019), Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing (2020), Cry Wolf (2021)

Conventionally Yours (2020) Annabeth Albert, main character (Contemporary Romance)

The Charm Offensive (2021) Alison Cochrun, main character (Contemporary Romance)

Vincent’s Thanksgiving Date (2014) R Cooper, main character (Contemporary Romance)

His Mossy Boy (2017) R Cooper (Beings in Love) main character (Contemporary Fantasy)

Jericho Candelario’s Gay Debut (2018) R Cooper, parent Contemporary (Contemporary Romance)

After the Scrum (2014) Dahlia Donovan (Sin Bin series) main character (Contemporary Romance)

Poisoned Primrose (2020) Dahlia Donovan (Motts Cold Case series) main character (Contemporary Mystery)

London Calling series by Alexis Hall, main character (Contemporary Romance): Boyfriend Material (2020), Husband Material (2022)

Untouchable (2018) Talia Hibbert (Ravenswood) main character (Contemporary Romance)

Work for It (2019) Talia Hibbert, main character (Contemporary Romance)

Take a Hint, Dani Brown (2020) Talia Hibbert (Brown Sisters) main character (Contemporary Romance)

Stalked by Shadows (2019) Lissa Kasey (Simply Crafty) main character (Contemporary Fantasy)

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (2017) Mackenzi Lee, main character (Historical Fantasy)

The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks (2021) Mackenzi Lee, main character (Historical Fantasy)

After the Wedding (2018) Courtney Milan (Worth Saga) main character (Historical Romance)

Invitation to the Blues (2018) Roan Parrish (Small Change) main character (Contemporary Romance)

Rend (2018) Roan Parrish (Riven) main character (Contemporary Romance)

Better than People (2020) Roan Parrish (Garnet Run) main character (Contemporary Romance)

Best Laid Plans (2021) Roan Parrish (Garnet Run) main character (Contemporary Romance)

The Love Study (2929) Kris Ripper, main character (Contemporary Romance)

To Charm a Naughty Countess (2014) Theresa Romain (The Matchmaker Trilogy) main character (Historical Romance)

A Delicate Deception (2019) Cat Sebastian (Regency Imposter) main character (Historical Romance)

The Lawrence Browne Affair (2017) Cat Sebastian (The Turner Series) main character (Historical Romance)

Play It Again (2019) Aidan Wayne, main character (Contemporary Romance)

 

 

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Call or text 988

 

Mental Health Representation in Books: Depression
Mental Health Representation in Books: Grief
Mental Health Representation in Books: PTSD
Mental Health Representation in Books: Addiction and Eating Disorders

 

Written by Michelle at 6:41 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Mental Health  

Sunday, August 28, 2022

Mental Health Representation in Books: Depression

As I have written before, depression is something I have dealt with since I was a teen.

A young teen.

I admit my favored genres don’t seem like ones I am likely to see myself in (fantasy and historical mystery) Except that genre books often have excellent representation—after all, the relatable bits of those stories are about people.

I have read so very many passages in so very many books and immediately thought, “That! That is how I feel!” So, I’m sharing some of the ways books have clarified or shown a light on things I didn’t have the words for myself.

The Charm Offensive

Depression and anxiety were self-abnegating and self-centering at the same time. It was so easy to believe that because my feelings were huge, they exerted a force beyond me. It was so easy to forget that even though I was always being forced to think about myself, not everyone else did.

Roan Parrish, Invitation to the Blues

It’s hard to step outside yourself—even when you aren’t depressed. But when you are depressed it’s can feel impossible.

I was in my head, and that was the worst place for anyone to be, especially me.

Alexis Hall, Boyfriend Material

When you’re in a depressive episode, it’s almost impossible to escape your own head.

I couldn’t breathe and I was running through every single shitty thing I’d ever done, pulling my mistakes around me like some kind of armor against the hope of anything good.

Riven, Roan Parrish

There is isolation, a feeling of being trapped with your own brain.

Husband Material

I’d give my blood or my firstborn or my voice or my entire bloody inheritance for a mind that does not stand on the opposite side of the battlefield from me.

Mackenzi Lee, The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks

You can see the things that other people have, but can’t believe they will ever be for you.

“I suppose you weren’t in the mood for any of Callie’s lovely barbecues last summer?”

No, Zach hadn’t been. Although, his mood might have improved if anyone had thought to invite him to those barbecues. Or tell him he’d been missed. Or ask if he was okay. Or remember he existed at all.

Talia Hibbert, That Kind of Guy

And you know other people are judging you, making assumptions.

(S)he was, as people loved to put it, mentally unstable. (They thought) unbelievably common blips in brain chemistry made her some kind of separate species.

Talia Hibbert, Untouchable

Thing is, you’re not doing this on purpose. You know things aren’t right. You want to make things better.

Take a Hint, Dani Brown

“When I’m depressed,” Nate said casually, “I always know what I should be doing. I know exactly. I just don’t do it.”

Talia Hibbert, Untouchable

You know your friends aren’t judging you, but are certain they must be disappointed in you.

I’d fuck up and let them down, they’d feel sad, I’d feel sad, they’d feel sad for making me feel sad, and so on, and so on, and so on. As if I didn’t bear enough frustration and regret on my own account, without also feeling guilty for hurting the people who loved me.

Alexis Hall, Glitterland

Even when trying to be helpful, people don’t get that there is nothing they can do to make you better. The demons are in your head and as much as you want to excise them—you can’t.

They wanted to make things okay for me, as if cooking the right dinner or renting the right movie might fundamentally change the way my brain worked. It was painful to watch. Painful to see them flounder over and over to turn the world into a place I could fit.

Roan Parrish, Invitation to the Blues

Which leads to hiding from everyone, because you lack the ability to explain yourself, which makes everything too much work.

A Case for Christmas

I suppose that’s what comes of purposefully avoiding everyone you love. But I had to— have to— stay away from them, at least until I’m not so miserable, so distant, such a burden. Don’t I?

Talia Hibbert, Work for It

And doing everything you can to hide how much you are struggling from those who might notice.

The nice thing about heavy sweaters was you could wear them a long time without having to wash them, but still. There was a limit. There were a lot of limits, actually. Since grooming was one of those things people watched for, I made sure to clean beneath my fingernails and behind my ears.

Josh Lanyon, The Haunted Heart: Winter

Sometimes the problem is the things you do, but sometimes it’s things you don’t do.

He closed his eyes. He hadn’t told his brother that he hadn’t drawn in eight months.

Roan Parrish, Better Than People

When you’re struggling, you feel alone. It doesn’t matter what people say, because your brain is so much louder than anyone else’s words.

“(I)t’s difficult, sometimes, for me to understand that I have the power to hurt someone. You see, it requires me to accept that somebody might like me in the first place.”

Alexis Hall, Glitterland

Team Phison Forever

There is also the knowledge that even if things are okay today, that doesn’t mean it all won’t come crashing down tomorrow.

(E)very day when I was okay shimmered with a threat just out of view. I’d stop in the middle of doing something and check in: did I still feel okay? I did. I would reassure myself, See! You are still okay! But once I began to look down and check that the ground was still flat, every step felt like the one that might suddenly slope downhill. And even when it didn’t, the edge felt like it was growing nearer and each day became more and more vertiginous.

Roan Parrish, Invitation to the Blues

You try do the right things, because you know they help.

“Plus this”—Charlie adopts Dev’s frantic hand gesture—“this is for my mental health. All the exercise, I mean. I don’t do it because I care what my body looks like. I do it because I care how my brain feels.”

Alison Cochrun, The Charm Offensive

And meds help—they do! But even with meds the world can still come crashing down around you.

I wouldn’t have called myself a superstitious man, but when it came to the intricacies of my biochemistry, the complexities of my illness, I was as helpless as a frightened child who prayed to a god called science.

Alexis Hall, Glitterland

American Fairytale

Even when everything was fine, when she should be great, unease stalked her like a predator. Because she knew that at any moment, things might change. Her own fucking brain chemistry, the traitor, might drag her out of her body again.

Talia Hibbert, Untouchable

What’s harder is it’s often a slow descent. You’re ok, and then you have a bad day. And another bad day. Until you realize you can’t remember the last time you had a good day.

It was a bad feeling, knowing the depression had crept up and was already drowning me before I had realized it.

Lissa Kasey, Model Investigator

And here’s why these books are so important: Because when things are bad, knowing you aren’t alone—that others have struggled and found a way to put your feelings into words—matters.

It helps to know that it’s not just you, to remember you have come out the other side before, and you can do it again.

 

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Call or text 988

Veterans Crisis Line Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 or text to 838255

Mental Health Resources

MentalHealth.gov

NAMI

NIMH

The Right Resources Can Help You Manage Depression

5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain

 


 

Books with Depression Representation

 

Romance: Contemporary

Getting it Right (2015) A.M. Arthur (Restoration) main character, supporting character

The Charm Offensive (2021) Alison Cochrun, main character

Glitterland (2018) Alexis Hall (Spires) main character

London Calling series by Alexis Hall, main character (Contemporary Romance): Boyfriend Material (2020), Husband Material (2022)

Untouchable (2018) Talia Hibbert (Ravenswood) main character

That Kind of Guy (2019) Talia Hibbert (Ravenswood) main character

Work for It (2019) Talia Hibbert, main character

Take a Hint, Dani Brown (2020) Talia Hibbert (Brown Sisters) main character

Invitation to the Blues (2018) Roan Parrish (Small Change) main character

Rend (2018) Roan Parrish (Riven) main character

Better than People (2020) Roan Parrish (Garnet Run) main character

Whiteout (2017) Elyse Springer (Seasons of Love) main character

Team Phison Forever (2019) Chace Verity, main character

American Fairytale (2019) Adriana Herrera, parental

Romance: Historical

After the Wedding (2018) Courtney Milan (Worth Saga) main character

To Charm a Naughty Countess (2014) Theresa Romain, main character (The Matchmaker Trilogy) main character

Secrets of a Scandalous Heiress (2015) Theresa Romain, main character (The Matchmaker Trilogy) main character

Mystery: Contemporary

The Haunted Heart: Winter (2013) Josh Lanyon, main character

Haven Investigations series by Lissa Kasey, main character: Model Citizen (2016), Model Bodyguard (2016), Model Exposure (2017), Model Investigator (2017)

Mystery: Historical

A Case for Christmas (2021) J.A. Rock & Lisa Henry (The Lords of Bucknall Club) main character

Fantasy

Spirits that Walk in Shadow (2006) Nina Kiriki Hoffman main character

Who Killed Sherlock Holmes? (2016) Paul Cornell (Shadow Police) main character

 

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Call or text 988

 

Why Representation in Books Is Important
Mental Health Representation in Books: Anxiety
Mental Health Representation in Books: Grief
Mental Health Representation in Books: PTSD
Mental Health Representation in Books: Addiction and Eating Disorders

 

Written by Michelle at 1:12 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Depression,Mental Health  

Friday, August 26, 2022

Why Representation in Books Is Important

One of the things that has come recently is visibility in media—being able to see one’s ownself reflected in books and movies etc

Some of people (especially those on the far right) seem to think this is ridiculous. Most of those people are normal white people (quite often male) whose life view is reflected in centuries of art and literature.

Personally, I have found it incredibly enlightening to read stories from others point of view. After all, I learn something about those who are not like me. (As someone who loves fantasy, and escaping to other worlds, this seems sensible.)

But more importantly, in recent years I’ve discovered things about myself I didn’t know before. Things I might not have figured out—or come to accept—if I hadn’t read stories about people with those traits. Because the people in these stories were people I like—people I identified with, especially as the worked (and sometimes struggled) to exist in a world that others sailed through.

It was always a relief it is to see characters in books struggling with the things I do. Yet it was still a shock to see people name those things—names that I had not necessarily associated with myself.

Because of this, I want to point out some of the books and stories that helped me come to terms with who I am and who I have become, but also books that have helped me see things that I do not experience—or at least don’t experience in the same way.

What I want to start with is mental health. Because mental health is complicated.

First off, there’s shame.

Better Than People

Simon didn’t like this side of himself. The side that saw others’ struggles— and how simply they could sometimes overcome them— and raged. Wished he could trade places.

Roan Parrish. Better Than People

Believing you make things difficult for those around you.

Then I remember that I’ve decided not to be in a bad mood anymore— not with Griffin, which should be easy, since hurting him makes me flinch every time. And not with myself, which will be harder, because hurting me has become a habit.

Talia Hibbert. Work for It

(T)hat you are too much work for someone to bother with.

“I’m sorry,” Cooper blurted. His heart was beating hard, but fuck it, what were they here for if not this?

Park looked at him. He had that same odd look on his face he’d had when they first got to Jagger Valley that looked so much like nerves, but a little hopeful, too. “For what?”

“Everything. Well, for earlier, and for being, you know, me.” Cooper laughed awkwardly.

“What the hell, Dayton,” Park said, sounding angry. “That’s a horrible thing to say.”

Charlie Adhara, The Wolf at Bay

The Wolf at BayBecause everything about you is a little bit off, a little bit skewed.

That word opens a fissure inside Dev’s chest. Burden. The way he felt as a kid every time his mom got off work early to take him to therapy.

Alison Cochrun, The Charm Offensive

And sometimes even those who love you don’t understand.

“I feel awful when I know you’re having a hard time and I can’t fix it.”

“You can’t fix it,” Simon said flatly. “It is me.”

Roan Parrish. Better Than People

Intellectually you know your friends love you regardless of how prickly and difficult you feel.

“Oliver. It’s not your job to make being with you convenient for me. Just like it’s not my job to make being with me convenient for you.

Alexis Hall, Husband Material

But it’s still hard.

The Noblemans Guide to Scandal and ShipwrecksAs you go along, you learn tricks and tools to help manage the things that make you different—the things you struggle with.

He looked at the situation and chose to acknowledge all the dimensions of it.

Dimensions (as he thought of them) weren’t positive or negative. They were simply the truth of how he felt about things.

Roan Parrish, Best Laid Plans

You keep your expectations within reason.

“Good morning, Jude,” Faron said as they got close.

“Morning,” I said. It never did to qualify things too early.

Roan Parrish. Invitation to the Blues

You try not to think of the only-ifs.

This part was always the hardest. The moment when he could see the person he would have been— the connections he would have made— if only he weren’t like he goddamn was.

Roan Parrish. Better Than People

Boyfriend MaterialYou try to remember that you are a work in progress.

“God, is this going to take years?”

“It’s going to take your whole life,” Felicity says. “But it doesn’t have to be the defining element of it.”

Mackenzi Lee, The Nobleman’s Guide to Scandal and Shipwrecks

And if you’re me, you try to keep your sense of humor about it all.

“You’ve been through a lot today,” he said. “There’s no need to diminish it.”

“Yeah, but if I don’t diminish things I have to face them at their normal size, and that’s horrible.”

Alexis Hall. Boyfriend Material

But even with all that, it helps to know you aren’t alone.

“Every choice we make,” James said, “and every path we take are what leads us to the points we’re at today. To the people we love and who love us. Sometimes those paths are horrific, but we wouldn’t be the people we are if we hadn’t traveled them.”

A.M. Arthur. Getting It Right

 

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Call or text 988

 

Veterans Crisis Line Call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 or text to 838255

Mental Health Resources

MentalHealth.gov

5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain

 

Mental Health Representation in Books: Depression
Mental Health Representation in Books: Anxiety
Mental Health Representation in Books: Grief
Mental Health Representation in Books: PTSD
Mental Health Representation in Books: Addiction and Eating Disorders

 

Written by Michelle at 8:49 pm      Comments (0)  Permalink
Categories: Books & Reading,Depression,Mental Health  
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