January Book Reviews
After a bunch of DNF's last month, this month I read two amazing books - Starving for Survival (memoir, 5/5 stars) and Ghost Flower (YA fantasy, 5/5 stars).
Starving for Survival: One Man's Journey With Orthorexia by Jason Wood
The premise: Did you know men develop eating disorders too? Trust me, I know a guy!
After years of hiding from the shouts of “Fatty” and “Porkchop” in the middle school locker room, Jason was determined to be a weight-loss success story. Only, Jason’s newfound control over food didn’t lead him to the picture-perfect ending he had envisioned. Following a health scare at twenty-nine, Jason turned to “clean eating” as his coping solution to the sudden loss of his parents, living in a run-down apartment, and broken family relationships.
Starving for Survival explores how healthy eating can go from well-meaning improvements to knocking on death's door. Jason illustrates the damaging physical, mental, and social effects of orthorexia for men who may have been there, or for readers who suspect someone they love is struggling. Embracing vulnerability, Jason advances the conversation regarding men’s mental health and the stigma that still exists today.
I got the honor of beta-reading this book after connecting with author Jason Wood. His mission to raise awareness, and decrease stigma, for male eating disorders is incredible. He started the community Orthorexia Bites including a successful blog and social media presence, in addition to publishing this book, all in the past year! Most of all, Jason is a wonderful and genuine person.
My review (also featured inside the book!): 5/5 stars.
Starving for Survival is raw, honest, and compelling. Jason is such an easy person to root for, especially given his bravery and honesty. This book is awesome and needed, touching on important, but under-discussed, topics such as male eating disorders, Orthorexia, food insecurity, anxiety, addiction, trauma/loss, and the role of family/found family.
Ghost Flower by Kathryn A. Broderick
The premise: She’s on a mission to topple the Tower.
Arcadia is dominated by the Magority, the Tower-trained magical elite. Non-mages are forced to scrape by on society's edges. Living in the shadow of the Forest, under the thumb of the Tower, and forgotten by the Crown, non-mage Sofia Lombardi has had enough. After an unexpected betrayal by her fiancé, Sofia is out to disrupt the status quo. She's been keeping a secret—one that will shake Arcadia to its core. As the Tower scrambles to restore order, Sofia must find her way to survive against the watchful eyes of a powerful wizard and protect her people against the primeval powers of the Forest.
My review: 5/5 stars.
I received a copy in exchange for an honest review.
I was hesitant to start this book since it’s been a while since I’ve read a fantasy book I liked. That being said, I was really pleasantly surprised with Ghost Flower. I could not put this down- I started reading and couldn’t stop until I finished at 2 in the morning.
One of my issues with fantasy is the “chosen one” trope. This book does an incredible “unchosen one” type theme. Not only is it unique, it’s done incredibly well.
The characters are wonderful. Flawed enough to be relatable and sympathetic, but still complex and strong, I loved Casmir, Soph, and Sedrik. Their motivations are clear and their interactions are delightful. I was impressed by how romantic the love interests' interactions were, even without any physical intimacy. Kudos to the author for this.
The beginning took a bit to get into, and I was worried the plot wouldn’t have a clear direction, but the exposition was necessary for everything to come.
The writing itself was beautiful. I could feel the characters emotions, the world felt vivid, and I got lost in the story.
The themes of mental health were really well handled, especially since they are subtle. These include trauma (death of parents), abusive relationships (no SA, mostly control and narcissism), systematic oppression, xenophobia, and more. We need more of this! Books that cover these topics without being aggressively about mental health (although those books are great too) since mental health doesn’t define ones life story.
If you’re looking for a clean fantasy (whether or not you usually like fantasy!) book with some swoony romance and no frustratingly overdone tropes, you need to read this book.
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