Perfect Picture By Jodi Picoult

  Cassie (Cassandra) wakes up in a graveyard, she does not remember her past or anything about herself.

When Cassie is identified by her husband – world famous Actor Alex Rivers – she returns to her life of luxury. But trying to uncover her memories she remembers what led her to that graveyard where she woke up. Her life, though appearing ‘Picture Perfect’ it was far from it. Living on the edge waiting for Alex’s next rage Cassie had decided to bolt. When Cassie remembers about this she flees again. But will she return? Why did she keep to this ‘Picture Perfect’ Image?

A novel about abuse. About why many stay in such relationships. Breaking the usual misconception that it is the lower social classes which this problem effects.

This was my first Jodi Picoult novel which I have read. And after looking at other reviews it is one that many didn’t enjoy and therefore maybe not the best starting novel from Jodi Picoult. I felt the stories from ‘The People’ a tribal group present in the novel just detracted from the issue of abuse. There was really nothing to keep reading on for. I don’t know what else I could say because I didn’t really enjoy it but ploughed through it. It is a long novel and one I would only suggest to people who are a – interested in tribal groups – and b – interested in the issue of abuse. It was not a story that helped you through, you had to push yourself through.

Only 2 out of 5

In My Mailbox 005

In My Mailbox is a Meme Hosted by The Story Siren where we share the books we have received in the past week be it for review, bought, borrowed, or however you acquired them.

I haven’t got much this week as I am on a bit of a reading slump as I posted earlier this week. So I am not requesting anything from Netgalley until I am reading a bit more regularly!

I did however get some free Kindle books again this week:

(Amazon)

Composition by Andy Elliott
Max is not your average little boy. The short life he has known has been one of pain, suffering, control & restraint. However Max has a bigger problem of late: he has started to see visions of the Devil. A short novel in four parts, Composition introduces Max alongside 3 other characters in crisis. Dark, funny, gruesome & redemptive, this surprising debut punches well above its weight.

(Goodreads/Amazon)

Seasons of Wither By A. Zampino

Everyone remembers their first love
and their first heartbreak.

But what if you could never
forget?

What if you were frozen,
forever seventeen?

Both Blubs from Amazon!

What have you got his week?

Wintergirls By Laurie Halse Anderson

  (Goodreads)

Blurb from Goodreads:

“Dead girl walking,” the boys say in the halls.
“Tell us your secret,” the girls whisper, one toilet to another.
I am that girl.
I am the space between my thighs, daylight shining through.
I am the bones they want, wired on a porcelain frame.

Lia and Cassie are best friends, wintergirls frozen in matchstick bodies, competitors in a deadly contest to see who can be the skinniest. But what comes after size zero and size double-zero? When Cassie succumbs to the demons within, Lia feels she is being haunted by her friend’s restless spirit.

I have read a lot of novels about Anorexia. I have read a lot of biographies about Anorexia. Wintergirls however stands separate from most. Aimed at teenagers and young adults it shows the true reality of this illness. It shows the loss of power, something many don’t understand. The addiction of starving yourself. The disturbed self image. The inner anguish those with anorexia live with. The physical pain. The lack of energy.

Anderson’s Wintergirls shows the true destruction Anorexia causes. The fact that death is one of the common yet serious side effect that people forget about. Remember Anorexia has the highest mortality rates of all mental illnesses. Many authors leave out this fact. It is always recovery stories. Yes there is a story of recovery in here. But it does not shield the reader of the nastier side of this illness.

A book that is written fluently and beautifully yet showing the true devil of Anorexia.

I urge young adults and teens to pick up all the novels by Laurie Halse Anderson. They are tough reads but they are important works to educate yourself of the darker side of life and give comfort to those who have had to or are currently dealing with such issues.

4.5 out of 5

Book Reading Slump

Okay so this is something I hear people talk about but never read about. So I decided to write about mine.

I am currently in a reading slump. I don’t know if it is because I am studying a lot and want my evenings to be filled sitting on the couch watching tv rather than more reading.

I have two books on the go and I do pick them up most days but am never getting more than a chapter read. I am not getting anywhere!

How do you manage to get out of reading slumps? Do you blame the book you are reading? Your work, uni, school? Is life just a bit stressful and you aren’t able to escape it?

How do you get out of it? Do you keep trying book after book after book until you find one to grab you and pull  you out of the slump? Or do you give reading a wee break and go back to your book and see if you can finish it? Do you just try ploughing through bit by bit? Or do you do something else?

Please tell me your experiences in the comments sections and how you get yourself out such a slump as mines can go on for months and I don’t want this to happen. I want to get out of this slump!

Poppy Shakespeare By Clare Allan

   Poppy Shakespeare is a strange novel. I watched the Channel 4 adaptation a few years back. I didn’t get it. I watched it again of 4OD. I didn’t get it. So I decided to get the book and see if I could make heads or tails of it!

Poppy Shakespeare is a glamorous woman, a single mother, trying to find a job. But something strange happened after a computer based interview which caused her to be sent to the Day Hospital and the Dorothy Fish.

The Dorothy Fish is a psychiatric hospital.

N – our protagonist – is given the job of telling Poppy how things work, a mentor of sorts.

Soon we see a picture. The patients do not want to be discharged. The Dorothy Fish is organised by levels. The higher up you go the less ‘worse’ you are. People want to be in the Day Hospital. The best of both worlds.

This is a bizzare novel, but when you begin to see what the Clare Allan is trying to get across it become much more interesting.

The fundamental questions of the mad world – Who says your mad? Who says your sane? Why are some people allowed to decide this?

The mental health system is riddled with ambiguities, catch-22’s, people who play the system, which leave you frustrated, confused. Poppy Shakespeare highlights these with comic fashion.

I think Poppy was placed in the Day Hospital to compare the patients against her to deem them as normal. However it back fires. Poppy becomes increasingly more more unwell due to the stress of trying to get out of ‘the system’ at the Dorothy Fish. Showing that the stress of threatened sections/detentions and the lack of structure can lead to someone becoming more ill. If I am interpreting this wrong please tell me, and let me know what you got from this book.

Poppy Shakespeare is poignant, comic genius, fresh, and relevant.

A book that maybe at first glance seems so far away for the UK health system you realise that Clare Allan is speaking the truth at a emphasised, and comic level.

Quoted as a ‘modern day One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest’

A definite read for those working in the mental health system, politicians, and patients. You will know some of the characters. You will recognise the frustrations, and you will laugh out loud.

4.5 out of 5

Shutter Island By Dennis Lehane

  I did things the wrong way round – I saw the film, then read the book. Actually I watched the film about five times before I read the book. The film was almost identical – a very rare thing which we are all aware of. This makes my reading tainted. I hear the voices of Leonardo Dicaprio and Mark Ruffalo as I was reading it and did not have to make up these images or voices myself.

However, onto the actual book. Teddy Daniels (Dicaprio) and Chuck Aule (Ruffalo) are arriving at Shutter Island – an island of the coast of Massachusetts which holds the most severe cases of Forensic Psychiatric Patients (criminally insane). Set in the 1950’s  you get a feel of the turn of the tide in psychiatric care, the introduction of anti-psychotics and newer therapies but still the evidence of the horrors of past ‘care’ and the prevalent psycho-surgery of the time.

A patient has escaped. There is a storm which wrecks the island. Teddy and Chuck are trapped. More and more suspicion,  more and more mystery, more and more enticing. The book grips you and reels you in. A psychological thriller with twists and turns that I did not see.

Okay so you can tell – I liked the film and the book. But the book didn’t have as much of a kick as it would have if I had read it first. I am not wanting to have any spoilers here but I came to a different conclusion at the end than what my partner did. I have never investigated this but either way we both enjoyed it.

SO here is what I would say – Loved it! Would read again! But having seen the film the book doesn’t have the ‘spark’ that it would have done if read first.

If you are a fan of psychological thrillers this is for you. If you have seen the film you won’t get much from the book. So read the book first before you watch the film!

5 out of 5

In My Mailbox 004

In My Mailbox is a Meme hosted by The Story Siren where we share books we have received in the past week, be it from the library, bought, borrowed, or received for review.

Free Kindle Downloads:

(Goodreads/Amazon)

Jekyll and Hide Me Not By  Sherry Bach

Blurb from Amazon:

Alexis had never heard of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, nor was she educated enough to recognize the signs of mental illness when she thought she had fallen in love with Kurt, who quickly moved their relationship toward marriage after a few months of dating. Five months after the wedding, Alexis discovered why the experts say to date someone for a couple of years before marrying them and why Kurt would never be able to really love her as the world she knew turned into a four-year nightmare of rage attacks, humiliation, verbal abuse, sexual perversion, betrayal, ambiguous communications and constant contradictory messages. Nobody believed her when Alexis claimed Kurt’s behavior was bizarre and abnormal because he had made sure no-one saw the real side of who he really was. A master at manipulation, Kurt dragged Alexis through hell until that day…the day he finally crossed a line.
Do you ever wonder why God allowed you to go through a certain painful experience? Alexis wondered this for a few years until she realized that she had survived when she could have wound up dead and that God wanted her to try to help other women avoid, or get out of, relationships with men who are abusive, verbally, physically and/or emotionally; the statistics are staggering as to how many of these relationships exist. After five years of research, I wrote Alexis’ story and I am amazed at how many people have contacted me over the years because of this story to say they are in, or know someone who is in, the same situation. Most recently I was contacted by someone from Nashville whose sister-in-law was murdered by an abusive man. This book is controversial because it advocates women leaving/divorcing men who are abusive which goes against some beliefs. There are churches who preach women must stay with their husbands regardless of their behavior because God hates divorce…I disagree with that. This book is not a book to read if you are having minor marital problems; it is a serious horrifying calculation diving into the mental pathways of mental illness, abusive men and the women who are vulnerable to them. Parental discretion is advised.

(Goodreads/Amazon) – I am loving the cover!

Branded: Fall of Angels (Book 1) By Keary Taylor

Blurb from Amazon

Jessica’s had the nightmares for as long as she can remember. Nightmares of being judged for people who have died, of being branded by the angels. Her friends and family think she’s a crazy because of it all. Yet she carries the mark of the condemned, seared into the back of her neck, and hides it and herself away from the world.

But when two men she can’t ignore enter her life everything changes, including the nightmares. The two of them couldn’t be more different. She will do anything to be with one of them. Even tell him the truth about angels, why she never sleeps, and the scar on the back of her neck. But one of the two has set events into motion what will pull her toward her own judgment and turn her into the object of her greatest fear.

(Goodreads/Amazon)

An Order of Coffee and Tears By Brian Spangler

Blurb from Amazon

Angela’s Diner has the reputation of a safe haven where patrons find a moment of peace as they linger over coffee and tears. For one young runaway, Angela’s is more than a place to tell your tale — it’s a place where with the magic of chicken and waffles, and a little bit of trust, may just save your life.

Gabriella Santiago used to be a typical teenager who enjoyed the usual teenage things. That is until a single tragic day ended who she was and within hours she ran from home, never to look back.

Only when Gabby is cold, hungry and at her lowest, does she find Angela’s Diner. Gabby embraces her new life and the family she has found in the midst of strangers and obscurity.

Acceptance is what she craves, but before long, Gabby realizes she’s not the only one in the diner with something to hide. Her new family has a secret too, and some secrets refuse to stay buried.

(Goodreads/Amazon)

Children of the Fog By Cheryl Kaye Tardif

Blurb from Amazon

Sadie O’Connell is a bestselling author and a proud mother. But her life is about to spiral out of control. After her six-year-old son Sam is kidnapped by a serial abductor, she nearly goes insane. But it isn’t just the fear and grief that is ripping her apart. It’s the guilt. Sadie is the only person who knows what the kidnapper looks like. And she can’t tell a soul. For if she does, her son will be sent back to her in “little bloody pieces”.

When Sadie’s unfaithful husband stumbles across her drawing of the kidnapper, he sets into play a series of horrific events that sends her hurtling over the edge. Sadie’s descent into alcoholism leads to strange apparitions and a face-to-face encounter with the monster who abducted her son–a man known only as…The Fog.
Bought:

(Goodreads/Amazon)

Chasing the High By Kyle Keegan and Howard B. Moss
Blurb From Amazon

In this book for young people who are struggling with substance abuse, Kyle Keegan recounts his own remarkable story of drug abuse and ruthless addiction. Keegan, now an adult who is in recovery from his addiction, discusses his experience as a well adjusted adolescent who fell victim to heroin and whose life was almost destroyed by the devastating drug. Against the backdrop of these experiences, he also provides useful information that young people struggling with substance abuse need, such as how to recognize and accept that there is a problem, how to find professional help, and how to stay happy and healthy in recovery.

This is the second last book I need in this series that I need to read. Think I will be buying the last one very soon – ‘What Must You Think of Me’. This is a good series but it has a lot of repetition between the books about how and where to get help and insurance advice. It is an American based series so most of the supplementary advice is not relevant to me. But the journey of the Author is the interesting part.

And that is it for me this week. I am going to try and read a free kindle book from a self published author once a month. Sometimes I am pretty surprised!

Siren By Tricia Rayburn

  Blurb from Amazon.co.uk

‘Something deadly waits beneath the waves off Winter Harbour, and this summer, no one’s safe. Seventeen-year-old Vanessa Sands is afraid of the dark. And heights. And the ocean. And pretty much everything else. Fortunately, Vanessa’s fearless older sister, Justine, has always been there to comfort her. That is until Justine jumps off a cliff near their family’s holiday home in Winter Harbour, her lifeless body washing ashore the next day. Everyone assumes that the tragedy is an accidental result of Justine’s adventurous ways. Everyone, that is, except Vanessa. Vanessa returns to Winter Harbour alone, looking for answers from Caleb Carmichael, Justine’s summer love who was with her when she jumped. But when Vanessa learns that Caleb has been missing since Justine’s death, she joins forces with Caleb’s older brother, Simon, to try to find him. Soon, it’s not just Vanessa who is afraid. Panic sweeps through Winter Harbour as more bodies wash ashore, all male, each victim found grinning from ear to ear. And as the death toll mounts, Vanessa realises that to save Caleb and solve the mystery of her sister’s death, she has to confront a secret she’s kept for years – one that could end her summer romance with Simon and even life as she knows it. An utterly gripping paranormal romance for Twilight fans sick of copy-cat vampire novels but in love with paranormal romance.

Okay so I am giving the blurb from Amazon as I read this book nearly a year ago. I thought ‘Siren’ sounded interesting and I think it was another book I bought on their ‘Kindle Daily Deal’ promotion. I have not really fallen in love with the paranormal romance genre but continue to keep trying! What I didn’t like about this novel is that it seemed that nothing really happened near the beginning bar the death of Justine. Then as you get nearer the middle it seems to rush right through to the end. I think the change of pace didn’t work for me. The mystery was good, I did want to know what was going on, why such deaths occurred, what Justine had found out, and why she died the way she did. There is a good story in here. But it wasn’t for me I am afraid. I think those who paranormal romance is their genre of choice then this is a book that steps away from the vampires that have filled the shelves over the past few years, and opens up to the monsters of the sea.

2 out of 5 from me I’m afraid!

The Graveyard Book By Neil Gaiman

   This was the first Neil Gaiman book I read thanks to an Amazon Daily Kindle Deal last December. It made me find out more about Neil Gaiman and that I had actually seen two of the films of his books – Stardust and Coraline – which I both enjoyed. And this novel was better than the films I had seen! I love his macabre style and the bizarreness that seemed so ‘normal’ in ‘The Graveyard Book’.

I have read in a few places that ‘The Graveyard Book’ was heavily influenced by Richard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ or other comparing it to that – often saying ‘The Jungle Book with ghosts and ghouls’. I would say that the idea of a boy growing up with those different from himself is the main comparison. I don’t want to say more about this as I haven’t investigated it further.

Nobody Owens (‘Bod) is brought up by the ghosts of the Graveyard, though he is living, he is protected by them and can see both the world of the dead and the world of the living. This confusing station means he is given a guardian – Silas – a peculiar character who is not dead, yet not wholly alive. Silas is a mysterious character, drifting in and our, but around for pivotal points of ‘Bods life.

‘Bods family are killed by yet another mysterious character – Jack – and as ‘Bod grows older is protection from within the graveyard weakens. Why was his family killed? What does Silas know about the murderous Jack? What danger lurks out in the world of the living that ‘Bod has been protected from? Can Silas help ‘Bod? Or must ‘Bod work things out for himself?

A beautiful macabre novel for children, young adults and adults alike. A book with ghosts and ghouls. Murder. Mystery. Loneliness. Friendship. Adventure and much much more!

Don’t be put of because this is described as a Children’s book! Trust me you will enjoy it. I also think it was a good starting book for me in my introduction to Neil Gaiman. As I have also read his ‘Neverwhere’ which was very peculiar and different indeed! Neil Gaiman is a talented writer and I urge anyone to read his books. Including ‘The Graveyard Books’ as a must!

One thing I would like to see is a book about Silas. About his journey’s, his past. Silas was the most layered character in the book and I think I would like to see more of him – if there is more of him let me know!

Overall 4.75 out of 5

In My Mailbox 003

In My Mailbox is a Meme hosted by The Story Siren as a way for us to share the books we have managed to get our hands on this week!

From NetGalley:
(Goodreads/Amazon UK)

If You Find Me By Emily Murdoch

Publisher: St Martin’s Griffin

Publication Date: 26th March 2013

Blurb –

What happens in the woods, stays in the woods…

For almost as long as she can remember, Carey has lived in a camper van in the heart of the forest with her mother and little sister, Jenessa. When her mother disappears, Carey’s father arrives and everything changes. Suddenly Carey and Jenessa must adapt to the wider world of family, school and boys. But Carey feels trapped by a terrible secret. If she tells, it could destroy her future. If she doesn’t, will she ever be free?

(Taken from Amazon.co.uk, 11/11/12)

Bought for Kindle:

  (Goodreads/Amazon UK)

Visitor in Lunacy By Stephen Curran

Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform

Publication Date: 6th August 2012

Blurb –

It is 1897, and confined to his room in Carfax Criminal Lunatic Asylum, Dr Richard Renfield is dying from injuries which could not be self-inflicted. His door has been barricaded from the inside and the Night Watcher swears nobody has been allowed in or out. With his last words he imparts a dire warning: “He is here.”

Moving between London, Yorkshire and Ceylon across the 19th Century, Visitor in Lunacy re-imagines the downfall of the enigmatic inmate from Bram Stoker’s Dracula: from a feared and respected member of the government’s Lunacy Commission to a resident of one of the madhouses he once oversaw. It is a tale of memory, regret and horror; of how the terrible secrets of a person’s childhood can inescapably shape their life.

(Taken from Amazon.co.uk, 11/11/12)

And that is all for me this week! Really looking forward to getting into both these books!