review - how it feels to fly

I received this book for free from HarperCollins, Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

REVIEW: how it feels to fly, by kathryn holmesHow It Feels to Fly by Kathryn Holmes
Published by HarperTeen on June 14th 2016
Genres: Anxiety, Contemporary, Death & Dying, Depression & Mental Illness, Fiction, General, Girls & Women, Young Adult
Pages: 368
Format: ARC
Source: HarperCollins, Publisher
Amazon // The Book Depository
Goodreads

A struggle with body dysmorphia forces one girl to decide if letting go of her insecurity also means turning her back on her dreams.

Sam has always known she’d be a professional dancer—but that was before her body betrayed her, developing unmanageable curves in all the wrong places. Lately, the girl staring back at Sam in the mirror is unrecognizable. Dieting doesn’t work, ignoring the whispers is pointless, and her overbearing mother just makes it worse.

Following a series of crippling anxiety attacks, Sam is sent to a treatment camp for teens struggling with mental and emotional obstacles. Forced to open up to complete strangers, Sam must get through the program if she wants to attend a crucial ballet intensive later in the summer. It seems hopeless until she starts confiding in a camp counselor who sparks a confidence she was sure she’d never feel again. But when she’s faced with disappointing setbacks, will Sam succumb to the insecurity that imprisons her?

This compelling story from Kathryn Holmes examines one girl’s efforts to overcome her worst enemy: herself.

how it feels to fly

it’s frightening how much i related with the main character.

HOW IT FEELS TO FLY is a book that is ME. the story follows a ballet dancer who struggles with anxiety, panic attacks, and body image issues. although i don’t have anxiety, i am a ballet dancer and i do struggle with my body image from time to time. (when you critic yourself in the mirror for hours on end every day — wearing a skin-tight leotard and tights — it’s hard not to judge.) needless to say, the main character’s thought process didn’t stray too far from my own on a day-to-day basis. her’s was just an intensified version of mine.

most “ballet books” i’ve read are a mild version of BLACK SWAN, which isn’t the slightest bit accurate in terms of dancing and feeling. this novel was the first i read that made me feel that yes, the author must’ve been a dancer herself, and yes, everything was en pointe (pun totally intended). i could imagine samantha being a girl at my studio, or a girl i could meet at a summer program, or even in some cases, myself. sam’s character arc was really refreshing because we can slowly see her getting better, and wanting to get better.

“She’s light, but grounded. She moves like water, like a reed, like the wind. She shines on stage.” (pg. 111, ARC)

since the story is set in a mental illness camp for teens, we also meet other characters who hope to pursue careers in gymnastics, football, tennis, figure skating, acting, and more. i liked this aspect because it’s also not something you would “normally” see. most people focus on academics and all these professions are very specialized. although relationships build between these characters, i didn’t feel its depth and thought it was a bit reserved.

my biggest issue with this book was the romance because it was completely UNNECESSARY and frustrating (like i-want-to-throw-this-book-across-the-room frustrating). the summary is so misleading because it makes it seem like the romance was a big deal, but it honestly wasn’t. it started off being really subtle and i wasn’t even sure if it was a ~thing~. but towards the end it was suddenly “important” and afterward, it was just left unresolved. i think the story would’ve been better if it wasn’t there. the author could’ve gone deeper into sam’s own character and self-discovery. i know the male lead helped develop her character, but it sends a message that makes me feel squeamish; like, does a person HAVE to “fall in love” in order to recover? it made me feel like you HAVE to be reliant on someone (romantically) in order to get better. it was frustrating and frankly, dumb. (also there’s a thing about the ending that bothered me just a tiiiiiny bit, although it was really realistic.) View Spoiler »

“I think you have to love something if you’re gonna make sacrifices for it.” (pg. 118, ARC)

i connected with the main character and situation really well, but i can’t be sure everyone else will. however, i do think people should read it simply because it’s so insightful on anxiety and mental illness. it shows the way athletes can mentally overwhelm themselves in addition to physically. it shows that it’s okay to ask for help and it’s okay to want to get better. i can’t say if it’s the perfect book for you, but i can say it was the (almost!) perfect book for me.

Rating Report
Plot
Characters
Writing
Pacing
Cover
Overall: 4

AWOM_blogtour

hello all! i’m so honored and excited to be a part of A WEEK OF MONDAYS blog tour because this book sounds super interesting. it’s like a book version of that one disney channel episode… BUT BETTER. can you imagine reliving the same day over and over again? sounds like a dream & nightmare. welp, that’s exactly what happens A WEEK OF MONDAYS.

about the book

A Week of Mondays

Publication Date: August 2nd, 2016
By: Macmillan
GOODREADSAMAZONBOOK DEPOSITORY

Ellie is having the worst Monday of her life. She messes up her school speech for the class vice presidency position, she manages to take the world’s worst school picture, she bombs softball tryouts, and the icing on top of this awful cake: her perfect boyfriend who is in a high school rock band dumps her. At the end of the day, Ellie wishes she could redo everything. When she wakes up the next morning, she discovers that it’s Monday again! She has six more chances to redo the day in the hopes of having everything go exactly the way she wants. But in the process, she just may find out that what she really wants and what she actually needs are two very different things.

guest post from author jessica brody

ELLISON “ELLIE” SPARKS: An idealistic, ambitious sixteen-year- old junior with a lot on her plate.

Those were the first words I ever wrote about Ellie Sparks. They were written in a synopsis for my publisher when I was first trying to sell them on the idea for a book called A WEEK OF MONDAYS.

read more >>

ten ways to make your day better

we all have bad days. there are days when you’re frustrated and angry (and maybe for no particular reason), days when you have no motivation to do anything, days when you feel as if you’re on the verge of tipping over. these days exist for all of us. so what do we do? (because screaming and glaring at everyone who looks in your direction doesn’t work) we try to make it better. SO, here are ten ways you could make your day slightly more bearable.

listen to your favorite songs, old or new

whether you’re feeling nostalgic for backstreet boys or ready to jam to hamilton, listen to music. turn it up and sing along to the lyrics you know. throw a spontaneous emergency dance party.

catch up with friends, virtually or in real life

catching up with old friends (or family!) is always refreshing. you get to update your life to people who actually care, as opposed to the people who roll their eyes at your facebook statuses. it’s also nice to know how others are doing with their lives. you can do this by texting, calling, or actually meeting up with the person.

express gratitude

making a list of things/people/places you’re grateful for is really helpful in changing one’s perspective. even the simplest things like “the weather is nice today.” you could also make lists of things that made you happy that day (ex: i got an unexpected package) or your accomplishments (ex: i finished writing a blog post).

pamper yourself (take a bath/long shower/face mask/whatever)

this is so effective because it relaxes your mind and body. sometimes taking a long shower after a long day is exactly what i need. i stop worrying about the things that worry me and begin to relax relax relax.

re-watch your favorite movie(s) or catch up on tv shows

ahhh netflix, the cure for all. it’s wonderfully distracting to sit back and watch a film because you can stop worrying about your own issues and start worrying about the character’s issues. and 9/10 of the time, everything works out fine.

read more >>

18th birthday

the end of my teen years are approaching and i feel… excited? anxious? confused? sad? all of the above? the past year truly sped by too quickly and all of a sudden I’M AN ADULT. i’m not much different today than i was yesterday except now i’m an adult. i’m at that horrible age when you’re not old enough to be considered old, but not young enough to be considered young. AND you’re suddenly expected to know/do adult things like paying bills and figuring out taxes. (okay maybe not YET as it’s been less than 24 hours but.. whatever) birthdays always make me a bit sentimental because it’s a reminder of how far you’ve come and how far you have left. it makes me feel the need to stop time and rewind. (i wish i could freeze the time at seventeen..)

now that i can officially consider myself as a grown up™, i thought it’d be wise to share some of the things i’ve learned throughout the years. here are eighteen pieces of advice i would give my former self, learned from eighteen years of mistakes and good ol’ experience.

1. listen to your parents

during my elementary school days, i’d only listen to my parents out of fear for getting in trouble. but somewhere along the way i came to realize and understand my parents’ rules and reasoning. my parents only mean well. whatever it is may feel awful at the moment, but it’ll probably help in the long run. they’ll always support me and have my back (even when it may not feel like it sometimes). they are wise beyond my years, and always will be. listen to all they have to say. people will come and go from your life; your parents are not one of those people.

2. don’t feel guilty for venturing from the status quo

as a child, i always wanted to be that kid who “fit in” with everyone else. (let’s be real, who wasn’t that kid?) but living a life focusing on ballet made that harder because no, i can’t go to your party because i have ballet and no, we can’t study together because i have ballet. eventually, that lead to me transferring to an online school (to spend more time dancing) which also meant i basically disappeared from my old friend groups. i tried keeping touch and continue being “normal” (and was annoyed at myself when i couldn’t), but then i learned i didn’t need to force myself into the mold i created.

3. be passionate about things

i (still) have this horrible habit of doing things halfway (or in dance-vocabulary “marking”) in life. i’ll kiiiiiinda do something and expect fantastic results. obviously, the world doesn’t work like that. once you find something you’re really enthusiastic about, don’t be afraid to go all out. which may mean researching online, staying up at night doing that thing, setting goals, looking for improvement, obsessing obsessing obsessing.

4. following up on the last advice, it’s okay to be passionate about more than one thing

i’ll admit, i still have trouble juggling my multiple interests. i always hear of prima ballerinas who dedicate their entire heart and soul into the art. ballet is their everything and they don’t have other interests. but me? i love ballet AND books AND aesthetics AND photography AND a lot of other things. it took me a while to realize it’s okay (and probably completely normal) to like more than one thing.

5. keep an open mind for new ideas, people, and places

there’s a quote by bill nye that says, “everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” i think this is so relevant and true because there is always more to learn, more to see, more to do.

6. don’t walk on unpaved roads (mud, grass, etc) with open-toed shoes

you may or may not know this story, but i once went to mississippi and got attacked by fire ants which eventually led me to go to the hospital. the reason? (aside from my utter stupidity and bad luck) i stepped on a fire ant hill with my open-toed sandals. now i’m overly sensitive to bug bites (before i was merely sensitive but not i’m overly sensitive) and i often have nightmares that include fire ants. lesson learned.

7. “be yourself” is the most misleading advice you will hear as a teen

this phrase is the absolute worst and it only took me three years to figure out what a scam it is. at twelve years old, how on earth was i supposed to “be myself” when i hardly knew who that was? i think people actually mean “create yourself.” before you can even become yourself, you need to make yourself.

8. being inspired by others doesn’t make you a copy-cat

after i realized i had to create myself, i took to copying some of my role models because i wanted to be just like them. i started to feel guilty because i thought i was no longer alexandra and now role-model-wannabe. BUT that’s not true because there’s NO WAY you can actually ~be~ someone else. by being inspired by other’s ideas, quirks, and personalities, you’re creating your own version of them which ultimately means you’re creating yourself. *gasp*

9. fake it till you become it (aka my life motto)

this rookie article will always be one of my favorites because it speaks to me on such a strong level. it’s basically saying if you fake something hard enough, it will become real. lemme explain: if you pretend to be (for example) confident long enough, the confidence will become second nature and you won’t be faking it anymore. ~MAGIC~

10. look at things from multiple perspectives

i always witness people get into disagreements simply because they didn’t look at it from two sides of the story. let me repeat myself: THERE ARE TWO (or more) SIDES TO A STORY. consider everything before jumping to conclusions or else it will lead to misunderstandings and bad blood.

11. life is hardly ever as simple as black and white; most of it is gray

when you’re a kid, things can be easily labeled into boxes of “good” and “bad.” but with more layers added, i’ve learned that it’s never that simple. following the thought on perspective, the “bad” could be thinking they’re doing good. so who’s right here? it’s safe to assume everyone is gray.

12. when in doubt, bring a book

*still has regrets for every appointment/wait/whatever and i forgot my book*

13. know who to dedicate time, love, and effort to

there will be people you meet who (sorry not sorry) are simply not worth your time. this is not to say these are bad people (like i said earlier, most of the time people are gray), but they probably have different priorities and mindsets and you just don’t click. instead, spend more time on people who will recipricate your efforts and appreciate your simple existence.

14. you don’t need fancy things or a lot of friends/followers to be happy

people often think fortune and famous/popularity are the keys to euphoria. but over the years, i’ve come to learn that it’s the small things that hold more meaning. money doesn’t buy you happiness, and neither does a big follower count. although both are nice to have, there are also other things in life that hold value.

15. be nice to your siblings

(and not because my sister is terrifying otherwise.) i used to ALWAYS argue with my sister. when she moved away to college, her missing presence made me realize how grateful i am to have a sister, a person who’s been with you through it all, a person who knows you like no other, a person you can confide in and trust. be nice to them.

16. the progress is just as important as the endgame

when rehearsing for a competition or performance, the purpose is for a stunning show. but what happens when months of hard work fall flat in the two minutes on stage? does it mean it was all for nothing? this awful question helped me come to terms about the true purpose of rehearsals and reaching goals. it’s the progression and improvement that matters more than the ultimate end.

17. be patient

progress is not something that could be easily seen right off the bat. continue doing that thing, be patient, and everything will work out.

18. there are so many things in this world waiting to be discovered, waiting to be pursued

sometimes life feels so small. “i can only be insert-future-profession-here or else i’m NOTHING,” is a thought that circles my mind sometimes but note to self: the future is not set in stone. as cheezy as it sounds, you can be anything and there are SO many possibilites out there.

giveaway!!

heartless arc giveaway

because i love gift giving and celebrating (and also because i received an extra copy – thank you, macmillan!!) i’m giving away an ARC of HEARTLESS, by marissa meyer and a tee of your choice from the twirlings! i might add some other goodies/books/whatnots if i feel like it, but those are the ~main~ prizes. *throws confetti* before you get too excited…

here are the terms and conditions:

  • this giveaway is open INTERNATIONALLY
  • it will run from june 10, 2016 to june 24, 2016 at 11:59 PST.
  • you must be 18 or older OR have your parent’s consent to release a mailing address.
  • you will be disqualified for picking up entires you didn’t do.
  • you may only use one account to enter.
  • if the winner doesn’t respond in 48 hours, i will choose another winner.
  • i am not responsible for anything lost in the mail.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

farewell, foresight, favorites

favorites

i wasn’t all that obsessed with much of anything this month UNLESS YOU COUNT BOOKS! bah dum ts. i’m always obsessed with books so i don’t want to count books but….

the raven king & a court of thorns and roses

a court of thorns and roses

these two books consumed my entire being. THE RAVEN KING took up the first half of my may while A COURT OF MIST AND FURY consumed the rest. even though everyone was praising about how fantastic these titles were, i’m still surprised by its fantastic-ness. THESE WERE SO GREAT. and by great i mean these-hurt-my-soul-and-made-me-an-emotional-wreck.

podcasts

i’ll admit that i didn’t start listening to podcasts until almost the end of may but since then, i haven’t been listening to much else (except for maybe hamilton). it all started with me needing to catch up on eight episodes of A Novel Chat (which is my FAVE) (totally not biased because the creators are the loveliest internet friends). after that, i found another bookish podcast hosted by sarah enni entitled First Draft. i love the way she interviews authors because they don’t necessarily feel like interviews but conversations? anyway, they’re great. if you have any podcast recs, please let me know!

spigen’s style ring

okay, i haven’t exactly been obsessed with this but i definitely have become attached to it. spigen sent me a few of their style rings and i decided to try it out because WHY NOT? and now i’ve become unexpectedly reliant on this strange ring that keeps my phone from falling and also holds it up as a stand and hangs from hooks. it’s weird and it’s great. (although spigen sent this product to me free of charge, this is my honest opinion on it and by no means a review or anything. i just really like this ring.)

farewell, may

may 2016 wrap-up

looking back, i always feel that my months are never enough: didn’t dance enough, didn’t study enough, didn’t read enough, didn’t blog enough. this month is no different, but it also felt a little refreshing to take a step back and NOT force myself to study, dance, read, take pictures, and be productive™. in doing that, i felt myself get inspired again. by taking a small pause in the routine, i realize that it’ll help me be more productive in the long run.

aside from not-really-doing-anything-in-my-daily-life, a few exciting events did happen. i passed my driving exam (luck was truly on my side), registered to vote (because i won’t let trump become president on my watch), hosted my first monthly bookstagram challenge (with the help of celine and monica), took annual ballet photos (which haven’t been released yet), attended a ballet competition (more on that later), and qualified for another ballet competition i was really anxious about (it’s olympic style and held in varna, bulgeria; also more on that later)! when i list things out like this, it looks like a lot happened. but honestly, it felt like i did the occasional productive thing and mostly just bummed around. but sometimes, it’s okay to bum around.

the last weekend of may was super duper hectic because 30+ students at my ballet studio were going to a ballet competition. in addition to dancing/competing myself, i was in charge of helping out which includes doing makeup, organizing warmups, schedules, and overall support. honestly, helping out is so much more tiring than dancing itself. i often feel like my efforts aren’t appreciated, but it was fun nonetheless.

read this month

  • THE RAVEN KING, by maggie stiefvater – ★★★★★
  • THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, by renee ahdieh – ★★★✩✩
  • P.S. I LIKE YOU, by kasie west – ★★★✩✩
  • A COURT OF THORNS AND ROSES, by sarah j. maas – ★★★★✩
  • A COURT OF MIST AND FURY, by sarah j. maas – ★★★★★
  • KINDRED SPIRITS, by rainbow rowell – ★★★✩✩
  • HOW IT FEELS TO FLY, by kathryn holmes – ★★★★✩
  • A MYSTERIOUSLY FANTASTIC BOOK, by unnamed author (i can’t say right now, but i will SOON!)

on the blog

bookish:

other:

favorite search terms:

  • please i still love you books – it’s okay i’m still waiting for the day when books love me back too
  • any redemption for tamlin – HAH
  • who does celaena end up with in queen of shadows – READ IT AND YOU WILL FIND OUT. spoiler she ends up with herself because she is a strong independent woman who don’t need no man. (maybe)

foresights for june

june is going to be filled with long hours in the studio doing nothing besides dancing dancing dancing. (which means i most definitely will be blogging less *sigh*) i’ll be participating in my ballet studio’s summer program which consists of four-hour classes per day (mon-fri) plus rehearsals for my competition in varna during the month of july. i need to prepare eight solos (six classical, two contemporary) so that’s a looooot. on the weekends, i’ll be assisting ballet classes/teaching so that should be fun. 🙃

aside from ballet, my sister is visiting for a week! i’m also celebrating my birthday, finishing up exams, and hopefully going to kayla itsines’ LA boot camp. although it’s going to be very overwhelming and exhausting, i’m excited for the upcoming weeks. (i also kinda want to just get it over with but HUSH NEGATIVE PART OF MY BRAIN.) my only goal for next month (this month? i keep delaying my monthly wrap-ups ugh) is to stay alllliive.

how was your may? do you have anything planned for june? let me know in the comments!