If I Fall, If I Die

If I Fall, If I Die

How did I get it?:
I bought it from Mr B’s Emporium!

Synopsis:

Will has never been outside, at least not since he can remember. And he has certainly never gotten to know anyone other than his mother, a fiercely loving yet wildly eccentric agoraphobe who panics at the thought of opening the front door. Their world is rich and fun- loving—full of art, science experiments, and music—and all confined to their small house.

But Will’s thirst for adventure can’t be contained. Clad in a protective helmet and unsure of how to talk to other kids, he finally ventures outside.  At his new school he meets Jonah, an artsy loner who introduces Will to the high-flying freedoms of skateboarding.  Together, they search for a missing local boy, help a bedraggled vagabond, and evade a dangerous bootlegger.  The adventure is more than Will ever expected, pulling him far from the confines of his closed-off world and into the throes of early adulthood, and all the risks that everyday life offers.   

In buoyant, kinetic prose, Michael Christie has written an emotionally resonant and keenly observed novel about mothers and sons, fears and uncertainties, and the lengths we’ll go for those we love.

Thoughts:

I was really looking forward to starting If I Fall, If I Die as I find books centred around mental health fascinating. It could have been a really exciting story line but at times, I felt like this book was a struggle to read. Don’t get me wrong, I would recommend If I Fall, If I Die… I just have to mention that it’s not a fast-paced read.

If I Fall, If I Die centres around Will and his mother Diane. At the start of the story, Will has never left the house. This is due to his mother Diane, being agoraphobic. Due to technology, Will and Diane have never had to leave the house. They can have almost anything delivered to the house and Will can be home schooled. Diane creates a world for Will so that he can learn from the home. Will decides to go outside of the house one day, he meets a boy called Marcus and realises that the outside world isn’t as dangerous as his mother made him think. Will becomes so fearless, which makes Diane more fearful. She knows she can’t protect Will, because she can’t leave the house.

This story is intense. I think Michael Christie created fantastic characters. Will’s mum was fascinating to read about. Their relationship was incredibly complex. The reason why I haven’t rated this book any higher is because I felt that a lot was added to the story that didn’t necessarily deepen the story for me. I wish more had been explored between Will and his mum instead of the second half of the story feeling different than the rest.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

I had mixed feelings about this book but this is an intriguing read about agorophobia with some fantastic characters!

Little Girl Gone

Little Girl Gone

How did I get it?:
It was a gift!

Synopsis:

A baby goes missing. But does her mother want her back?

When Estelle’s baby daughter is taken from her cot, she doesn’t report her missing. Days later, Estelle is found in a wrecked car, with a wound to her head and no memory.

Estelle knows she holds the key to what happened that night – but what she doesn’t know is whether she was responsible…

Thoughts:

I’m a little bit fed up of every psychological thriller being compared to Gone Girl and The Girl On The Train. It’s boring and uninspired. That aside, I did really like the sound of Little Girl Gone, so I found some time to get stuck into the book. I don’t think it’s the best psychological thriller I’ve read but it was definitely well considered and had an interesting subject matter.

Little Girl Gone starts with Estelle Paradise waking up one morning and finding that her little baby Mia has disappeared from her cot. What’s strange is that her nappies, clothes, bottles etc. have also disappeared. Mia goes to the police station but doesn’t actually end up reporting her daughter missing. We later read of Estelle being involved in an accident. She is found with a wound to her head and amnesia. She can’t remember what has happened to Mia and whether she might be involved. The media, of course, have a field day with speculation because Estelle never reported Mia’s disappearance. They begin to blame both parents for their involvement. Estelle goes into a psychiatric unit in order to unravel the truth with the help of a therapist. A lot of information is given to the reader through flashbacks.

I thought Little Girl Gone was a fascinating look at postpartum psychosis. I began to wonder through the use of flashbacks whether Estelle was in some way responsible for Mia’s disappearance. I believe that’s what the author wants you to believe. I certainly didn’t trust Estelle. I do love an unreliable narrator.

I really felt like the author explored the mind of a new mother experiencing postpartum psychosis. I really felt for Estelle and I believe that was down to Alexandra Burt’s writing of a new mum on the edge. I also despaired at the lack of support around for Estelle. It’s so easy to feel negatively about Estelle, especially as you read about some of her darkest thoughts and moments.

For me, the book was too long. Towards the middle of the book I think some of the ‘big reveal’ really slowed down the pace of the story. My interest waned by then. I certainly wasn’t as gripped or invested in the characters at the start. Therefore, even though I would still recommend this book to psychological thriller fans, I don’t think it’s anything stand out in a very populated genre.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

Not a stand-out in the genre, but a good psychological thriller with an unreliable narrator!

Damage Done

Damage Done

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she’s able to begin again. She’s even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy’s forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning. . . .

Thoughts:

I have had a copy of Damage Done for ages now and decided it was time to get around to reading it. Damage Done is a YA thriller which is being billed as a Teen Gone Girl. I don’t totally buy that comparison, although I thoroughly enjoyed reading Damage Done. It didn’t take me long to tear through it!

Damage Done is about a girl called Julia who has gone through a traumatic incident involving her twin brother, her boyfriend and her best friend. Julia and her family move away and change their identities. However, the secrets that are hiding, cannot stay secret for long and slowly the truth is revealed.

I really enjoyed how Julia wasn’t the typical YA character. She had an odd relationship with her brother, which makes the reader question everything. Something happens with him (which I don’t want to spoil) that ends up with him in a coma. Once Julia has moved and changed her identity, we find out that her brother has woken up from the coma and he’s missing.

I really enjoyed reading Damage Done. It was well written and incredibly intriguing. I liked how there was the psychologist’s data recorded in journal like format. I have to say that in particular, the last few chapters of the book were exciting. I admit, that I guessed the twist but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story. I loved reading how it all unfolded and the doubt and curiosity that I felt.

Would I recommend it?:
Yes!

A decent YA thriller which’ll keep you turning the pages!

The Honest Truth

The Honest Truth

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

In all the ways that matter, Mark is a normal kid. He’s got a dog named Beau and a best friend, Jessie. He likes to take photos and write haiku poems in his notebook. He dreams of climbing a mountain one day.

But in one important way, Mark is not like other kids at all. Mark is sick. The kind of sick that means hospitals. And treatments. The kind of sick some people never get better from.

So Mark runs away. He leaves home with his camera, his notebook, his dog, and a plan to reach the top of Mount Rainier–even if it’s the last thing he ever does.

Thoughts:

I heard about this book late last year and immediately put it on my TBR. It’s an incredibly short read at less than 300 pages, but despite its heavy content, it doesn’t feel like a heavy read. It keeps you turning the pages. I did expect to be moved a little more, which is why I haven’t given this book four stars. It is a decent read nonetheless and I’m pleased that I’ve read it.

The Honest Truth centres around Mark, a young boy who is incredibly sick. Mark’s not sure if he will get better, so one day decides to take his dog Beau to climb Mount Rainier. Mark’s best friend Jessie knows that this is his dream, so when Mark is reported missing, she’s torn. She doesn’t know whether to tell his parents about his dream and risk it not being fulfilled.

As I mentioned, even though there’s sad content- it doesn’t take long to read. The chapters are short and snappy and there are cute half-chapters from Jessie’s point of view. Both Mark and Jessie’s perspectives are interesting to read from. I could totally sympathise with Mark, even though I knew his decision to try and climb the mountain wasn’t the most sensible one. As a reader, you can get behind his reasoning.

I absolutely adored Mark’s dog, Beau. I think the author really got across the message of how amazing dogs are and how loyal they are to their owners.

“Dogs die. But dogs live, too. Right up until they die, they live. They live brave, beautiful lives. They protect their families. And love us. And make our lives a little brighter. And they don’t waste time being afraid of tomorrow.”

The Honest Truth is worth reading. Sure, there are moments that aren’t as great but the good definitely outweighs the bad!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars.

A lovely, thought provoking read!

The Accident Season

The Accident Season

How did I get it?:
It was a Christmas present!

Synopsis:

It’s the accident season, the same time every year. Bones break, skin tears, bruises bloom.

The accident season has been part of seventeen-year-old Cara’s life for as long as she can remember. Towards the end of October, foreshadowed by the deaths of many relatives before them, Cara’s family becomes inexplicably accident-prone. They banish knives to locked drawers, cover sharp table edges with padding, switch off electrical items – but injuries follow wherever they go, and the accident season becomes an ever-growing obsession and fear.

But why are they so cursed? And how can they break free?

Thoughts:

At the end of last year, I heard so much about this book throughout the blogosphere. I knew I wanted to get my hands on it, so I put it on my Christmas wishlist. I was lucky enough to get a copy at Christmas time! I’m thrilled that I did, because I thoroughly enjoyed this unusual read, which really wasn’t what I expected it to be. It’s an incredible debut novel which makes me very excited for the author’s future work!

The Accident Season centres around Cara and her siblings. Cara’s family have been cursed with bad luck. Every October, they have to be careful as it is the accident season. It is a time when every member of the family gets hurt in one way or another. Some accident seasons have ended in death- others are cuts, bruises and broken bones. Cara’s mother is extremely paranoid and makes her family cover up, she hides dangerous items and does everything she can to prevent accidents. Cara is infuriated by her mother’s paranoia. She decides that this year she will have a Halloween party in a spooky old house that she’s just discovered. The Accident Season is mysterious throughout. We begin the story learning about a girl named Elsie who is strangely in every photograph that Cara has taken. Cara wants to find out why Elsie is appearing everywhere and then suddenly, isn’t as present in ‘real life’.

Don’t expect to go into reading The Accident Season expecting to know what was going on. There were times throughout that I didn’t have a clue where the story was going. I didn’t always understand what was going on at all times, but that’s what was so unique about it. I wasn’t frustrated though. It really worked in this book.

I struggled to categorise this book, because there really is a slice of everything. It’s certainly a YA read, but it’s also got a paranormal, fantasy, magical realism and a slice of romance edge to it. It’s a book that many readers will enjoy but at the same time, I get the feeling its uniqueness will divide! I recommend that you read it to form your own opinion!

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic, addictive debut which will make you think!

Comparing ‘Made You Up’ by Francesca Zappia

Made You Up

Synopsis:

Reality, it turns out, is often not what you perceive it to be—sometimes, there really is someone out to get you. Made You Up tells the story of Alex, a high school senior unable to tell the difference between real life and delusion. This is a compelling and provoking literary debut that will appeal to fans of Wes Anderson, Silver Linings Playbook, and Liar.

Alex fights a daily battle to figure out the difference between reality and delusion. Armed with a take-no-prisoners attitude, her camera, a Magic 8-Ball, and her only ally (her little sister), Alex wages a war against her schizophrenia, determined to stay sane long enough to get into college. She’s pretty optimistic about her chances until classes begin, and she runs into Miles. Didn’t she imagine him? Before she knows it, Alex is making friends, going to parties, falling in love, and experiencing all the usual rites of passage for teenagers. But Alex is used to being crazy. She’s not prepared for normal.

Funny, provoking, and ultimately moving, this debut novel featuring the quintessential unreliable narrator will have readers turning the pages and trying to figure out what is real and what is made up.

Thoughts before you started reading Made You Up?

CHRISSI: I’m scared of the hype. SO very scared of the hype.

LUNA: There is a rule; if Marieke Nijkamp recommends a book to me it’ll be brilliant. She is never wrong… (this is not the least bit irritating)

What did you think of Alex?

CHRISSI: Alex is one of my favourite characters. She’s amazing. I liked her immediately and loved following her narration.

LUNA: Alex is wonderful as a narrator.  She’s the kind of character you want to follow. Sort of like that friend that takes you by the hand and pulls you into adventures – only with Alex you’re partly in awe of her but also protective.

Best bit?

CHRISSI: Is it enough to say every single thing? I really couldn’t find anything negative about this book. The characters are great, the representation of mental health is fantastic and I was pulled into the story. It was completely engaging, absolutely amazing and one of the most well written books I’ve ever read. The fact that it’s a debut absolutely blows my mind.

LUNA: I’m not sure I’m going to manage to explain this well but Francesca Zappia made me lose my own sense of what was real while reading Made You Up. I thought that I’d sympathise with Alex but that I’d still know when she’d be hallucinating and sometimes I did.

Because of how Made You Up is written I was pretty certain I knew reality (like Alex, only I didn’t need to double-check myself, because why would I?) only then it didn’t necessarily turn out to be reality.

I’m not going to say what is and isn’t real in Made You Up because each reader should have this journey. It gave me so much more understanding about the emotions, especially the fear. When you can’t trust the little things or people you rely on.

Worst bit?

CHRISSI: I didn’t have a worst bit. There were moments that I was absolutely heartbroken, but I was only so heartbroken because it was well written and so, so poignant.

LUNA: There wasn’t anything I disliked about Made You Up but as in heartache moment… Well I don’t want to spoiler anything, so I’m just going to say: Charlie.

Favourite character/moment?

CHRISSI: My favourite character is Alex. She’s just so real. The author clearly knows how to write an unreliable narrator.

LUNA: I’m going to pick a moment that contains a bit of spoiler (maybe, depends on your definition thereof). When Alex and Miles at in Alex bedroom making out with all signs point to this going all the way but Alex says “Don’t hate me, but I don’t think I want to do this. Not… not right now.” and its ok.

There are loads of other moments in Made You Up that I loved and there is a lot more to this particular chapter but I picked it because I kinda felt like, yes thank you dear author.

Was Made You Up what you expected?

CHRISSI: It was much, much better.

LUNA: In some ways yes, I mean it was a Marieke rec but I wasn’t expecting to be so involved in the book – so on that level it exceeded by expectations.

Would you recommend it?

CHRISSI: Without a doubt!

LUNA: Absolutely

More Happy Than Not

More Happy Than Not

How did I get it?:

I bought it!

Synopsis:

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. With the support of his girlfriend Genevieve and his overworked mom, he’s slowly remembering what that might feel like. But grief and the smile-shaped scar on his wrist prevent him from forgetting completely.

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. Since Aaron can’t stay away from Thomas or turn off his newfound feelings for him, he considers turning to the Leteo Institute’s revolutionary memory-alteration procedure to straighten himself out, even if it means forgetting who he truly is.

Why does happiness have to be so hard?

Thoughts:

I adore this book. I really didn’t expect to. I think it really helped that I didn’t know a lot about it before I jumped into it. It’s not a long read at all at under 300 pages, but I took my time with it because I wanted to devour every word. It really is astounding that More Happy Than Not is Adam Silvera’s debut. It’s so accomplished.

More Happy Than Not centres around Aaron who is trying to find happiness after his father killed himself. He leans on his girlfriend Genevieve and then his new friend Thomas after Genevieve goes away for a couple of weeks. Aaron develops a good bond with Thomas which begins to affect his other relationships. Aaron finds himself incredibly confused and wants to turn to the Leteo Institute for a procedure they do. The Leteo Institute have a memory-alteration programme. They offer the chance to make patients forget things they want to forget forever. Aaron isn’t sure whether to go through with the procedure as it may make him forget who he really is.

I won’t deny that this book is hard to read. It is. The topics covered are NOT easy. It’s not a light read. Adam Silvera writes in such a raw way. He really evokes emotion in the reader which I highly appreciate. I had to put the book down at points and think about what I had read. Would I want to erase parts of my past if I had the chance? It made me think about what our memories mean to us.

The story itself is split into three parts which fit together so well. The chapters are short and snappy. I found it unpredictable. I really though I knew where the story was going but I was wrong. Midway through there is a plot twist and I certainly didn’t see it coming. I was so immersed in the writing and the thoughts it evoked that I didn’t even consider the plot twist.

The reason why I haven’t given this book five stars was because I expected more about the Leteo Institute. I thought it was a really interesting concept and would’ve liked to have read more about it.

I am so excited to read more from Adam Silvera. He really is a talent to look out for.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course! 4.5 stars

A fantastic debut with dark, intriguing content.