Diverse Books, YA Books

And the Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando – ARC Review

Thank you to Simon and Schuster and Netgalley for sending me an arc in exchange for an honest review.

This book was a really difficult read but it was also an incredible and very important read. Everyone needs to read this but please check trigger warnings before reading.


Rating: 5/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

When fifteen-year-old Nathan discovers that his older brother Al has taken his own life, his whole world is torn apart.
Al was special.
Al was talented.
Al was full of passion and light…so why did he do it?
Convinced that his brother was in trouble, Nathan begins to retrace his footsteps. And along the way, he meets Megan. Al’s former classmate, who burns with the same fire and hope, who is determined to keep Al’s memory alive. But when Nathan learns the horrifying truth behind his brother’s suicide, one question remains – how do you survive, when you’re growing up in the age of social media?

It took me a long time to read this book, not because it wasn’t good but because it deals with very difficult and very sensitive topics and I had to take breaks in between reading them. The sensitive topics include bullying and suicide and Danielle dealt with these really well. She doesn’t hold back in showing the reality and consequences of bullying and how it affects the person being bullied and also how it affects their family and friends too.

This book is heart breaking to read as we slowly learn what Al went through, we see how much he loved creating art and all the things he wanted to do in life and how because of cruel classmates he committed suicide and now will never get to achieve any of his dreams and goals in life. It gets more and more horrifying as we learn more and more and it just made me think how absolutely awful it would be for those teens who suffer through this and no one realises anything is wrong.

We see Al’s story from the point of view of his brother Nathan and his friend Megan who are each battling their own issues while also struggling to deal with their grief and complicated feelings about Al and his death. It was really interesting to read the story through their eyes as we get to see Al from two different parts of his life.

Megan was his friend but she has many regrets and also struggles with peer pressure and body image issues. She wishes she had just been open about the fact that she was Al’s friend as he had such a big impact on her life and helped her see that she could go to university and achieve so much more than she thought she was capable of.

Nathan is dealing with so much guilt, he feels guilty about how he felt he wasn’t there for his brother and that he can’t work out why his brother took his own life. It was heartbreaking going on this journey with him where he slowly finds out what was happening in his brothers life and slowly piecing it all together. It was incredibly difficult learning about what Al went through and that he didn’t know how to reach out to someone and suffered in silence and alone.

Danielle’s writing is incredible and despite it being an incredibly difficult topic she did a wonderful job. It was such a real portrayal of what can happen when someone is bullied. This is a book that everyone should read and we all need to have more honest discussions about these issues as they are literally taking lives.

Just please read the trigger warnings before reading.

Book Recommendations

Fiction Books With Mental Health Rep – World Mental Health Day

It’s World Mental Health Day and I am really glad to see more people talking about mental health. It affects so many people and yet there is still so much stigma around it.

So I wanted to share some books that I’ve read and loved that have really great mental health rep. I will also be writing a post about non-fiction mental health books, so keep an eye out for that too!

So here are some of the books that I read that I think have great mental health rep:


1 All The Things We Never Said by Yasmin Rahman – This deals with depression, self harm and suicidal thoughts so it can be a difficult read but I really loved the rep. You can read my full review here


2 The Weight of Our Sky by Hanna Alkaf – This book is an ownvoices book with really great mental health rep especially as it discusses how cultural or religious beliefs impact someone seeking help.


3 Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell – This was one of the first contemporaries that I read and loved because I really related to Cath and how her anxiety affected her when she started university. You can read my full review here


4 No Fixed Address by Susin Neilsen – This book shows how a parent having mental health problems can also affect their children. You can read my review here


5 Are we all Lemmings and Snowflakes? By Holly Bourne – I really loved seeing characters all struggling with different mental health problems in this book. You can read my review here


6 The Loneliest Girl in the Universe by Lauren James – The main character suffers from anxiety in this book and I really loved how it was shown.


7 Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo – I really loved seeing how Kaz deals with his PTSD in this book. You can read my review here

So these are some of my favourite books featuring mental health. Let me know what books you’ve read with great mental health rep!

Fiction Books, YA Books

The Disasters by M.K. England – Book Review

I saw this book on social media and the cover was so pretty so I was instantly drawn to the book and I just had to read it! I really loved the book and read it over two evenings because I just couldn’t put it down!


Rating: 4/5

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Hotshot pilot Nax Hall has a history of making poor life choices. So it’s not exactly a surprise when he’s kicked out of the elite Ellis Station Academy in less than twenty-four hours.
But Nax’s one-way trip back to Earth is cut short when a terrorist group attacks the Academy. Nax and three other washouts escape—barely—but they’re also the sole witnesses to the biggest crime in the history of space colonization. And the perfect scapegoats.
On the run and framed for atrocities they didn’t commit, Nax and his fellow failures execute a dangerous heist to spread the truth about what happened at the Academy.
They may not be “Academy material,” and they may not get along, but they’re the only ones left to step up and fight.

This book surprised me but in a good way! I honestly had no idea what to expect going into it but I loved it so much! What I was most surprised about was that there was Muslim characters! Nax, the main character is a Muslim and Pakistani. Another main character, Asra is also Muslim and Bengali. Can I just say how much I loved the Muslim rep! I also adored the way Pakistani and Bengali culture was incorporated into the story without it seeming like it was forced. Mentions of women in salwar kameez and that there’s halal food places and that shops close at prayer times. I loved it!

Nax calls his mum, ammi and talks about Eid and speaking Pashto. Asra wears a hijab! Seeing a hijabi in a science fiction book made me so happy! The adhaan (call to prayer) is mentioned and Asra prays her five daily prayers and it was incorporated so well into the story! I loved her mention how it’s difficult to figure out prayer times in space. It made me giggle and then spend several minutes trying to figure out how exactly that would work!

“Asra snorts. ‘Try figuring out how to pray at the right times. Fortunately, there’s an app for that.’”

It was so nice seeing a Muslim wearing a hijab character praying like it’s just part of her normal routine and a part of her life but that it doesn’t define her. I also loved that Nax may not pray but it doesn’t mean Asra looks down on him or vice versa. They get along really well and it was so refreshing to see that. I’m sick of seeing Muslims who pray portrayed as condescending and judgemental.

There is also really great mental health rep in the book. Case and Nax both have anxiety and it does affect them. Even in vital moments when they are under pressure, they suffer from panic attacks. Which made it more realistic for me. That they are affected by it and they know it does, they don’t try to hide it but that they don’t allow it to define them. I also loved how supportive the other characters were when they had a panic attack. There is also LGBT rep in this book and I thought it was done well. Nax is bisexual and Zee is transgender. There’s some discussion about the discrimination that Zee faces and I really liked that Nax was supportive.

Okay so I know I spent ages talking about the great rep that was in the book but I don’t often get to see good Muslim/South Asian rep in science fiction books. I wish there was more!

The story is such a fun read despite the darker themes in the book. It’s action packed and a really fast paced read. It kept me reading well into the night because I just wanted to read one more chapter. We are told the story from Nax’s point of view and I do wish we could have seen the other characters point of view too. I think it would have helped to develop the other characters too.

I really loved that all three female characters were smart and independent. Asra is a genius hacker, Zee is a great medic and actual badass and Case is, well an all round genius. Asra and Zee were my favourite characters and I wish we got to see more of them. I loved how much they all grew throughout the story and how each of the five characters grew closer together and learned to work with each other despite their differences.

If you enjoy fun sci-fi books with lots of action then I definitely recommend this book!