Before I Let Go

Before I Let Go

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:
This Is Where It Ends

Synopsis:

Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return.

Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town’s lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she’s a stranger.

Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter…

Thoughts:

I really enjoyed Marieke’s debut novel, so I was excited to give Before I Let Go a try. I had heard very mixed reviews about this book- so I’ve somewhat taken my time with getting around to it. However, like always, I always give a book a good go and that’s what I did with this one. There were things that I absolutely loved about it, however, I did get confused at points which is why this book wasn’t rated a 4 star read for me.

Before I Let Go is centred in Lost Creek, which is an isolated community in Alaska. The story follows Corey and Kyra’s friendship. Corey and Kyra used to be really close until Corey moved away. Corey goes back to Lost Creek and finds herself an outcast. Kyra had some troubles and died a tragic death. Corey feels like she’s the only one that remembers what Kyra was like. Despite the community being cold towards her, Corey is determined to find out answers.

There’s no denying that Marieke Nijkamp is a fantastic writer. There’s something about her writing that completely pulls me in and keeps me captivated. Lost Creek is certainly a well written, creepy setting and I was desperate to find out more about it. I also really enjoyed the friendship between Corey and Kyra. It was clear that they really did care for one another. I am all for the representation of mental health as well. I don’t have much knowledge of bipolar disorder but I feel, from what I know, it was an accurate representation.

The reason why I dropped this book half a star is because I felt the plot didn’t immerse me enough. I kept on reading because the writing was simply beautiful. However, I didn’t care for what was going on and I kept searching for something to really grip me or shock me. Perhaps, the beauty of this book lies in the fact that it doesn’t have a complex plot.

I would definitely read more from Marieke. She’s a super talented writer, this plot just didn’t work entirely for me, however, I can imagine many would love it!

Would I recommend it?:
Yes! 3.5 stars

A decent read. Marieke is a great writer, I just wasn’t blown away by the story itself!

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Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes?

Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes?

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Welcome to Camp Reset, a summer camp with a difference. A place offering a shot at “normality” for Olive, a girl on the edge, and for the new friends she never expected to make – who each have their own reasons for being there. Luckily Olive has a plan to solve all their problems. But how do you fix the world when you can’t fix yourself?

Thoughts:

I am slowly making my way through Holly Bourne’s books. She’s an author that I’ve always heard a lot about. I’ve heard her speak at a few events and I’m always impressed with her. I’m going to make it my mission in 2019 to catch up with her backlist books, as I always enjoy her books when I’m reading them. She’s an author that really gets mental health and I’m definitely here for that.

Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? is a YA read about a group of teens that go to Camp Reset to try and learn how to be ‘normal.’ Whilst there, Olive, our main protagonist meets new friends that she’d never have expected. They all have their own backstories and reasons why they’re there. Olive comes up with a plan to solve their problems. However, how will Olive manage to save everyone else when she has trouble helping herself?

I love Holly Bourne’s writing style. She’s so honest about mental health. When she creates characters that have mental health issues, she really nails it. Their experiences with mental health are so raw and real. I love that she doesn’t have a magic cure for her characters. Mental health is messy and Holly Bourne always portrays that so well.

I loved that each character was so well developed. The character growth was impressive. They were all flawed but every single thing that they did or experienced didn’t seem contrived at all. All of their actions were totally believable.

Are We All Lemmings and Snowflakes? message is about challenging what normal is. It talks about whether it’s the world and what happens to us that affects mental health. I liked the idea of challenging labels and thinking how we can use kindness to overcome problems including (most importantly) kindness to your self. Aww.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A fantastic reading experience. Holly Bourne is a champion of YA mental health representation. 

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

Don't Stop Thinking About Tomorrow

How did I get it?:
I was sent a copy from the publisher, Walker Books.

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Fourteen-year-old Stevie lives in Lewes with her beloved vinyl collection, her mum … and her mum’s depression. When Stevie’s mum’s disability benefits are cut, Stevie and her mother are plunged into a life of poverty. But irrepressible Stevie is determined not to be beaten and she takes inspiration from the lyrics of her father’s 1980s record collection and dreams of a life as a musician. Then she meets Hafiz, a talented footballer and a Syrian refugee. Hafiz’s parents gave their life savings to buy Hafiz a safe passage to Europe; his journey has been anything but easy. Then he meets Stevie… As Stevie and Hafiz’s friendship grows, they encourage each other to believe in themselves and follow their dreams. 

Thoughts:

It’s been a while since I’ve read Siobhan Curham’s work, but oh my goodness it was lovely to get back to her writing. There’s something about Siobhan’s writing that makes me feel like I’m wrapped up in a cosy blanket. Her books are adorable and so heartfelt.

Don’t Stop Thinking About Tomorrow centres around Stevie and Hafiz. Stevie is a bit of an outsider at school. She’s dealing with a lot. Her father died a few years prior and her mother became incredibly depressed. She was unable to look after herself so certainly was neglecting Stevie’s needs. Stevie struggles to get food together and her uniform is a bit small/worn. Stevie does a paper round to try and raise some more funds. She’s also saving for a guitar because music is what makes her feel better.

Hafiz has just travelled to the UK from Syria to live with his Aunt and Uncle. He’s left his family behind and is feeling incredibly worried about their safety. Hafiz has a passion for football as an escape from his problems. He is soon picked for the school team, however, he has some troubles fitting in with some of the team who only see him as a refugee. Stevie and Hafiz are put together on Hafiz’s first day of school. The two become close and develop a friendship that supports one another. They both search for their own stories and attempt to find their purpose in life.

I really enjoyed this book because it felt realistic to the world that we live in today. I really loved Stevie and Hafiz’s friendship. The characters felt so well developed that it felt like they were real people that I was observing. I loved the alternate chapters because I wanted to read more from their points of view. I never felt confused with who was narrating a chapter. Each character had their own identity. This book really makes you think about others. It packs a powerful punch, that’s for sure. I also appreciated the focus on mental health. We do need to be speaking about it more and I was impressed with the representation of depression in this story.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

A wonderful read! It touched my heart.

Notes On A Nervous Planet

Notes on a Nervous Planet

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

The world is messing with our minds.

Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index.

– How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad? 
– How do we stay human in a technological world?
– How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?

After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him.

Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the 21st century.

Thoughts:

I absolutely adored Reasons To Stay Alive. I thought it was such a raw, honest look at depression and anxiety from someone who truly knows how it feels. I thoroughly enjoyed Notes On A Nervous Planet which looks at how technology and the media is affecting our minds.

Notes On A Nervous Planet is an important book because it really explores how technology now can affect our mental health. Goodness knows social media isn’t all that it’s made out to be. We only see segments of people’s lives that they choose to share. Yet we still let ourselves be affected by what we see online. Matt Haig speaks openly and honestly about the dangers of technology and social media and how it has impacted his life.

I love how in both of his books he writes short, witty chapters. Within the pages there’s so much insight though. Matt Haig is a writer that really makes me think. I love the advice he gives as well on how to be happier today. He had some great tips that definitely made me stop, think and discuss with friends. Not many authors can do that.

Reading a Matt Haig non-fiction book makes me feel like I’m talking to a wise friend. I adore Matt’s writing style and his honesty. He honestly made me feel like this messy world could and should be a happier place.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

Whilst I preferred Reasons To Stay Alive, I still thought this book was incredible. Matt Haig writes such insightful things that really resonate with me.

The Astonishing Color Of After

The Astonishing Color of After

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Synopsis:

Leigh Chen Sanders is absolutely certain about one thing: When her mother died by suicide, she turned into a bird.

Leigh, who is half Asian and half white, travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents for the first time. There, she is determined to find her mother, the bird. In her search, she winds up chasing after ghosts, uncovering family secrets, and forging a new relationship with her grandparents. And as she grieves, she must try to reconcile the fact that on the same day she kissed her best friend and longtime secret crush, Axel, her mother was taking her own life.

Alternating between real and magic, past and present, friendship and romance, hope and despair, The Astonishing Color of After is a novel about finding oneself through family history, art, grief, and love.

Thoughts:

You may have noticed that I read a range of new and older releases. I like to try and read some debut authors in the year they publish, so I’ve been making it my mission to read some 2018 debuts over my holiday. I decided to check out The Astonishing Color Of After and I’m so pleased I did. It’s a really beautifully written novel and it astounds me that it is Emily X. R. Pan’s debut. It reads like an incredibly established author had written it. Warning: This book does deal with some very heavy topics so if that’s something that upsets you, then perhaps this book won’t be for you.

It centres around Leigh, whose mother has died by suicide. Leigh’s mother was suffering from depression but Leigh hadn’t realised that things had got so bad. Leigh believes that her mother has come back as a bird and is trying to tell her something about her past. Leigh travels to Taiwan to meet her maternal grandparents and to find out more about her family. Her mother hid so much from her. She wants to know why but doesn’t expect to uncover family secrets. As Leigh gets to know her grandparents she learns more about herself than she ever anticipated, despite a language barrier.

I thought this book was really special. It is quite long, but it doesn’t feel like it’s dragging. I’m not usually a massive fan of character driven novels but this one really was a masterclass. Again, my mind boggles at how this book is a debut. I felt so much for Leigh, she was dealing with so much, so young. I also appreciated how Leigh was biracial. I haven’t read many books with biracial characters.

I absolutely loved the magical realism element of this story. If you don’t enjoy magical realism, please don’t avoid this book. It’s written in such a way that it adds to beauty of the story.

This book is special because it discusses how the Asian and American cultures can view depression. In no way does it glamorise suicide and depression and I highly respect that. This book should get people talking openly about mental health.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

This book did feel a little long to me, but I loved the idea and the inclusion of magical realism!

Tender

Tender

How did I get it?:
I bought it!

Previously reviewed by the same author:

Synopsis:

Marty and Daisy spend their lives pretending. Marty pretends his mum’s grip on reality isn’t slipping by the day. Daisy pretends her parents aren’t exhausting themselves while they look after her incurably ill brother. They both pretend they’re fine. But the thing about pretending is, at some point, it has to stop. And then what?

Thoughts:

Aw. This book is heart-breaking but so very necessary. I have enjoyed reading Eve Ainsworth’s books because they tend to be about tough subjects written in a raw and real way. I think it’s so important that young adults have material like this out there to read. Her books do often come with a warning that it has sensitive content within the story- so if you feel like it might trigger you then I don’t necessarily recommend reading them. However, if you can manage to read the tough content then I think you’re in for quite the read. Eve Ainsworth clearly understands teenagers/young adults and their emotions. With every book, I think she nails the emotions needed.

Tender centres around two young carers, Marty and Daisy. Marty’s mum is suffering with her mental health after her husband died. Daisy is living with parents who are falling to pieces due to her brother’s life-threatening, incurable disease. Heart-break. The story follows Marty and Daisy’s journey as they find each other and learn about each other’s lives.

I absolutely loved Marty and Daisy. It was tough to read about them hiding their feelings as they didn’t want to burden their family. I loved it when they found one another and were able to open up and feel better through talking to each other. I have known a few young carers throughout my teaching career so far and quite often they just need to know that someone cares about them.

I loved that this book wasn’t centred around romance. Sure, there’s feelings there, but it’s not the focus of the story. The focus of the story is to think about the now, because we never know what is around the corner. I think that’s such an important message to send out. Eve Ainsworth does it with ease and left me feeling incredibly reflective.

Would I recommend it?:
Of course!

I thought this was a very touching read. It explores mental health in a sensitive but raw and real way.

Ten Book Recommendations If You Want To Read Books Involving Mental Health

Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January 2018. It’s all about love of lists, love of literature and bringing bookish people together. 

This week’s topic has been super tricky for me. I decided to put my own spin on the topic and suggest some books to read if you want to read some books involving mental health/illness. I know if elements of these books were added to each other it would make one hell of a book representing mental illness!

Am I Normal Yet? (The Spinster Club, #1)

I love Holly Bourne’s writing. Her characters are very relatable!

The Time in Between: A Memoir of Hunger and Hope

I really enjoyed this book which was a memoir. I do enjoy reading memoirs of mental health because they are so raw.

Reasons to Stay Alive

Another raw and real take on mental health. I can’t wait to read Notes On A Nervous Planet from Matt too.

My Heart and Other Black Holes

Some moments in this story really hit home for me. A wonderful read.

Belzhar

This is unique! I loved reading this story.

Undone

The ending of this book blew me away!

Lighter Than My Shadow

A graphic novel that shows Katie’s journey through dealing with her eating disorder.

Perfect Escape

I loved how this book portrayed the effect OCD can have on others around those with the disorder.

Highly Illogical Behavior

I adored this book! Totally relatable characters.

Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things

Another non-fiction. For me, a book that involves mental health should have an element of realness in order to relate to it. All too often, books around mental health have an instant ‘fix’ and that’s not even a possibility… it makes my blood boil.

Please leave me a link to your Top Ten post this week. I can’t wait to see how you tackled the prompt!