Posted in Reviews

2 Second Review: My Inner Sky by Mari Andrew

My Inner Sky: On Embracing Day, Night, and All the Times in Between by Mari Andrew

Summary

A whole, beautiful life is only made possible by the wide spectrum of feelings that exist between joy and sorrow. In this insightful and warm book, writer and illustrator Mari Andrew explores all the emotions that make up a life, in the process offering insights about trauma and healing, the meaning of home and the challenges of loneliness, finding love in the most unexpected of places–from birds nesting on a sculpture to a ride on the subway–and a resounding case for why sometimes you have to put yourself in the path of magic.

My Inner Sky empowers us to transform everything that’s happened to us into something meaningful, reassurance that even in our darkest times, there’s light and beauty to be found.

Thoughts

Made me feel a lot of feels. Inspired, energetic, depressed, cautious, pessimistic, hopeful, grateful, touched. Possibly my favorite element of this was the beauty of the physical book itself. It’s truly so gorgeous to look at. Since I found Mari Andrew through her art originally, then her writing after, I love seeing that she found a way to incorporate both into a printed version. Even the page numbers change color for each section to match the theme, and it’s touches like that in the printed hardback that I loved. Of course the inside content matched. I feel like this could be useful to have on hand any time I need a dose of determination, or gratitude, or a reminder of the goodness of humanity. This will probably be a purchase soon because I always need good books on hand for the dark days of winter.

The blurb gives a good impression of the emotions and mood of the book, but not the concrete content. Mari talks about her travels and mental health as she is in her young adulthood. She also focuses on her healing journey after a life-changing physical injury, which is the sort of triggering point and framework for a lot of this.

Posted in Reviews

Review: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

Summary

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him-at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change.

Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl-she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland’s brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.

Thoughts

This is an unusual book because it’s a romance that is painful and difficult and maybe a little toxic. Despite being love, it forces the characters to take a hard look at how they feel and what they have and recognize that it’s not always good, to be in love the way they are. It’s a love that hurts as much as it elevates. One where the highs feel so good, but the lows are nigh unbearable. The expectations they put on each other and the way they struggle under the weight of them frankly just hurt to read about. This was one where it felt like there was never going to be an easy answer.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: Closer to Okay by Amy Watson

Closer to Okay by Amy Watson

Recommended: sure
for a self-recovery story, for self-love and romantic love, for descriptions that make even a non-coffee-drinker want to try a cup, for folks unfamiliar with mental illnesses and psychiatric help

Also FYI: I got this book from Aardvark Book Club, and I’ve been really loving their selections! They’ve only been up a few months, but if you’re looking for a new book subscription club, try this one out! I’ve passed on almost every Book of the Month club month this year, but Aardvark has had multiple each month I’ve been interested in and their model is very similar.

Summary

Kyle Davies is doing fine. She has her routine, after all, ingrained in her from years of working as a baker: wake up, make breakfast, prep the dough, make lunch, work the dough, make dinner, bake dessert, go to bed. Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s a good routine. Comforting. Almost enough to help her forget the scars on her wrist, still healing from when she slit it a few weeks ago; that she lost her job at the bakery when she checked herself in as an inpatient at Hope House; then signed away all decisions about her life, medical care, and wellbeing to Dr. Booth (who may or may not be a hack). So, yeah, Kyle’s doing just fine.

Except that a new item’s been added to her daily to-do list recently: stare out her window at the coffee shop (named, well…The Coffee Shop) across the street, and its hot owner, Jackson. It’s healthy to have eye candy when you’re locked in the psych ward, right? Something low risk to keep yourself distracted. So when Dr. Booth allows Kyle to leave the facility–two hours a day to go wherever she wants–she decides to up the stakes a little more. Why not visit? Why not see what Jackson’s like in person?

Turns out that Jackson’s a jerk with a heart of gold, a deadly combination that Kyle finds herself drawn to more than she should be. (Aren’t we all?) At a time when Dr. Booth delivers near-constant warnings about the dangers of romantic entanglements, Kyle is pulled further and further into Jackson’s orbit. At first, the feeling of being truly taken care of is bliss, like floating on a wave. But at a time when Kyle is barely managing her own problems, she finds herself suddenly thrown into the deep end of someone else’s. Dr. Booth may have been right after all: falling in love may be the thing that sends Kyle into a backslide she might never be able to crawl out of. Is Jackson too much for her to handle? Does love come at the cost of sanity?

Thoughts

Yes, I liked this one! I think it’s a story that’s not often told, one from the perspective of a person in a mental ward assistive living facility. And if I’m wrong about that, please let me know, because I would love to read more books like it! I’ve never had the experience myself, but have had friends who have, and reading this felt like getting to know some of what they might have experienced a little better (especially for those friends who prefer not to reflect on those times). And besides that, it was just a heartwarming and occasionally painful story. Much like life.

In short, this is a book about relationships with the self, romantic partners, friends, enemies, and the ways one person can shift between several of those categories — or fit into several all at once.

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Posted in Release Day!

Just Published: Take It From Me by Jamie Beck!

Hey y’all! Just a reminder that Take It from Me by Jamie Beck released today! Check out the full review here or grab a copy of your own!

Recommended: yep
For a book about a person writing a book, for some free therapy, for two characters who blend beautifully well, for a nuanced look at mental illness (Specifically one that’s usually played for laughs, dismissed, feared, etc)

Summary

Wendy Moore hides her collection of pilfered bric-a-brac from everyone, including her husband. He thinks she licked her kleptomania in therapy more than a decade ago. Therapy did help, as did focusing her attention on motherhood. But now Wendy’s gardening and furniture-refinishing hobbies fill up only so much of the day, leaving the recent empty nester lonely and anxious—a combination likely to trigger her little problem. She needs a project, fast. Luckily, Harper Ross—a single, childless younger woman in desperate need of highlights—just moved in next door.

The only thing Harper wants to change is the writer’s block toppling her confidence and career. Then a muse comes knocking. Sensing fodder for a new antagonist, Harper plays along with Wendy’s “helpful” advice while keeping her career a secret so Wendy keeps talking. Sure, she’s torn about profiting off her neighbor’s goodwill—especially when Wendy’s matchmaking actually pans out—but Harper’s novel is practically writing itself.

Just as a real friendship begins to cement, their deceptions come to light, threatening Wendy’s and Harper’s futures and forcing them to reconcile who they are with who they want to be. Easier said than done. 

Posted in Reviews

ARC Review: Take It From Me by Jamie Beck (9/20/22)

Take It from Me by Jamie Beck
Expected Release: September 20, 2022

Recommended: yep
For a book about a person writing a book, for some free therapy, for two characters who blend beautifully well, for a nuanced look at mental illness (Specifically one that’s usually played for laughs, dismissed, feared, etc)

Summary

Wendy Moore hides her collection of pilfered bric-a-brac from everyone, including her husband. He thinks she licked her kleptomania in therapy more than a decade ago. Therapy did help, as did focusing her attention on motherhood. But now Wendy’s gardening and furniture-refinishing hobbies fill up only so much of the day, leaving the recent empty nester lonely and anxious—a combination likely to trigger her little problem. She needs a project, fast. Luckily, Harper Ross—a single, childless younger woman in desperate need of highlights—just moved in next door.

The only thing Harper wants to change is the writer’s block toppling her confidence and career. Then a muse comes knocking. Sensing fodder for a new antagonist, Harper plays along with Wendy’s “helpful” advice while keeping her career a secret so Wendy keeps talking. Sure, she’s torn about profiting off her neighbor’s goodwill—especially when Wendy’s matchmaking actually pans out—but Harper’s novel is practically writing itself.

Just as a real friendship begins to cement, their deceptions come to light, threatening Wendy’s and Harper’s futures and forcing them to reconcile who they are with who they want to be. Easier said than done. 

Thoughts

If you read the blurb for this and worried that the character with kleptomania would be the all-too-common rep of a quirky mental illness that gets her into awkward shoplifting situations, etc: you are happily incorrect in that fear. I feel like it’s important to start with this, because the book itself even acknowledges how often that’s done in books, movies, and other media. The author in the book learns a lesson about it, and that allows readers to as well (if they need to). I really appreciated that it felt like a truly nuanced look at how it affects people who have it as well as those they love and are around them.

Continue reading “ARC Review: Take It From Me by Jamie Beck (9/20/22)”
Posted in Reviews

Review: 30 Things I Love About Myself by Radhika Sanghani

30 Things I Love About Myself by Radhika Sanghani
Verdict: ehhh…

Recommended: maybe
If you feel like you could use a self-help book but in a more palatable novel format, if you like crystal-astrology spirituality, if you can support a main character who is ACTUALLY a bit of an idiot

Summary

Nina didn’t plan to spend her thirtieth birthday in jail, yet here she is in her pajamas, locked in a holding cell. There’s no Wi-Fi, no wine, no carbs–and no one to celebrate with.

Unfortunately, it gives Nina plenty of time to reflect on how screwed up her life is. She’s just broken up with her fiancé, and now has to move back into her childhood home to live with her depressed older brother and their uptight, traditional Indian mother. Her career as a freelance journalist isn’t going in the direction she wants, and all her friends are too busy being successful to hang out with her.

Just as Nina falls into despair, a book lands in her cell: How to Fix Your Shitty Life by Loving Yourself. It must be destiny. With literally nothing left to lose, Nina makes a life-changing decision to embark on a self-love journey. By her next birthday, she’s going to find thirty things she loves about herself.

Thoughts

I definitely didn’t love this as much as I thought I would. It was a little too goofy with some of the spiritual stuff, and the totally serious conversation about making a “heightest” (like racist) jokes was a bit too much to me. It wasn’t a bad point, exactly, but the way it was conveyed was a little holier-than-though.

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Posted in Reviews

Mini Review: Delicates by Brenna Thummler

Delicates by Brenna Thummler

I don’t know why I didn’t expect this to take a dark turn. Especially when I think back to being in eighth grade… this story is depressingly spot on. I suppose it’s because the first story was a little lighter and sillier.

I loved the exchange where Eliza tells her mom Tommy Prickle calls her a weirdo, and her mom says “would you rather be a weirdo or Tommy Prickle?”

And Eliza’s poor dad. I guess I empathize a hell of a lot with the parents here, which I guess shows my age a bit.

Continue reading “Mini Review: Delicates by Brenna Thummler”
Posted in Reviews

Review: How To Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams

How To Fail at Flirting by Denise Williams
Verdict: worth it!

Recommended: sure!
For a sexy ride through a romance, for that fun cliche of changing your life via list to break out of your shell, but be aware there’s some freaky moments in here with MCs past abuser

Summary

When her flailing department lands on the university’s chopping block, Professor Naya Turner’s friends convince her to shed her frumpy cardigan for an evening on the town. For one night her focus will stray from her demanding job and she’ll tackle a new kind of to-do list. When she meets a charming stranger in town on business, he presents the perfect opportunity to check off the items on her list. Let the guy buy her a drink. Check. Try something new. Check. A no-strings-attached hookup. Check…almost.

Jake makes her laugh and challenges Naya to rebuild her confidence, which was left toppled by her abusive ex-boyfriend. Soon she’s flirting with the chance at a more serious romantic relationship—except nothing can be that easy. The complicated strings around her dating Jake might destroy her career.

Naya has two options. She can protect her professional reputation and return to her old life or she can flirt with the unknown and stay with the person who makes her feel like she’s finally living again.

Thoughts:

This book started off a lot darker than I expected, as right away we’re plunged into her fear at hearing that her abuser has returned to her workplace, where they originally met. I’m grateful I don’t have any personal experience with that situation, but reading the scenes where they interacted or even where she just thought about her past with him really affected me. They were tense and haunting and one scene was so stressful I had a few tears during / after because I was really wound up by it. So an FYI that if you’re sensitive to those situations or have your own experience, those parts will not be easy to read.

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Posted in Reviews

Review: The New Girl by Kid Toussaint

The New Girl by Kid Toussaint

Recommended: for sure!
For a cute friendship story with a twist of family drama, for some (possibly accurate?) insight into Dissociative Identity Disorder, for a flavor of Inside Out with the different personalities that come out, for gorgeous art to render a potentially complicated problem

Summary

Elle is just another teenage girl… most of the time. Bubbly and good-natured, she wastes no time making friends on her first day at her new school. But Elle has a secret: she hasn’t come alone. She’s brought with her a colorful mix of personalities, which come out when she least expects it… Who is Elle, really? And will her new friends stand by her when they find out the truth?

Thoughts

I saw this book a few times and was debating reading it, but I figured it would be pretty much like that movie inside out and didn’t really want to bother reading a story I felt like I would already know (despite the fact that I haven’t actually seen that movie…). Finally, I read a couple of reviews and several people mentioned that it’s more focused on dissociative identity disorder and other personality things like that rather than just being a characterization of emotions in general. Frankly, that’s what sold me. I was hoping this would be fun, and creative, but also a way that mattered a little bit more and could give people insight into those that need it.

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Posted in Fast-Forward Friday

Fast Forward Friday: The Mirror Season, 3/16/21

Hey y’all! In contrast to Throwback Thursday, I like to use Fridays to look forward to an upcoming release that I’m excited about! Today’s is The Mirror Season by Anna-Marie McLemore.
Expected Release: March 16, 2021

Why wait on this one?

  • The point that men can be sexually assaulted as well as women is not often touched upon in stories. True, it’s likely far FAR less common, but I appreciate the duality of the story here as I think that the combined perspectives can make the overall horror clearer and hit harder.
  • Part of the premise reminds me in a way of the mood in Mooncakes and while I wasn’t a huge fan of that story, I do think it can work well here. I expect that magical realism to fit seamlessly into the all-too-real elements of the story as a way to soften the blow and allow for personal discovery.
  • Man, this is going to be a tough read in a lot of ways. And yet, it seems like it has these touches of light in there as glimmers of hope for the main characters as well as the reader going along with them. I think that if this is done well, it will be really successful.

Summary

Graciela Cristales’ whole world changes after she and a boy she barely knows are assaulted at the same party. She loses her gift for making enchanted pan dulce. Neighborhood trees vanish overnight, while mirrored glass appears, bringing reckless magic with it. And Ciela is haunted by what happened to her, and what happened to the boy whose name she never learned.

But when the boy, Lock, shows up at Ciela’s school, he has no memory of that night, and no clue that a single piece of mirrored glass is taking his life apart. Ciela decides to help him, which means hiding the truth about that night. Because Ciela knows who assaulted her, and him. And she knows that her survival, and his, depend on no one finding out what really happened.