Occasionally I meet someone who is wide-eyed and innocent when it comes to mental illness. Not iThis review was originally published to Bookish Ardour
Occasionally I meet someone who is wide-eyed and innocent when it comes to mental illness. Not ignorance so much as complete and utter naiveté. These are people who admit they have had absolutely no experience with mental illness, whether it be themselves or by association. I’m always flabbergasted over this. I never know what to think, my brain freezes.
I see mental illness all around me. So many people have chronic depression, anxiety disorders, social disorders, personality disorders, you name it really. I’m always hard-pressed to think of someone who doesn’t, even mildly, suffer from some form of chronic illness. This is without bringing my brain into it which is chock-a-block with enough chronic conditions for ten people.
Madness: A Memoir is a great read for many reasons. I see it as an excellent introductory story to start with if you have had no experience with chronic illness, especially of the mental kind, and aren’t sure where to begin. Kate’s account gives an idea into life with psychosis, but with bypassing the confusion psychosis can cause the individual.
It’s easy for me to say so as I have my own forms of mental illness. There is much present in Kate’s story I can relate to. Issues with the health system, losing sense of self, lacking human contact, and truly believing the irrational are only some of the aspects people with mental illness can relate to. Kate has a great way of opening up about her experience. There’s a cadence to her writing style, which at times reminds me of irrational episodes, but the delivery is wonderfully structured.
I can understand if someone would not quite understand certain elements though. It is possible to question why someone wouldn’t seek help when they need it, or go so far as to try to cut their arm off, but that’s psychosis for you.
Speaking of which, that’s how Madness begins; she’s trying to cut her arm off. Is it any wonder I read this book in a few days rather than my usual week of reading? None at all! I was riveted. I was riveted all the way to the end. It wasn’t exactly fascinating, but it was engrossing from a chronically ill person’s perspective. It’s eye-opening being able to read another’s thoughts as they’re going through something that can be mirrored in part in your own life.
If you are interested in, or are considering, reading a true account of someone’s long-term experience with psychosis, I’d recommend Memoir: A Madness. I was moved enough to want to do something and I felt connected enough to not feel alone. Kate’s story impacts on many different levels....more
Gayathri Ramprasad hit a point in her struggle with mental illness where she realised she wanted toThis review was first published to Bookish Ardour.
Gayathri Ramprasad hit a point in her struggle with mental illness where she realised she wanted to be a voice for those living with such debilitating conditions. I’m glad she decided to do so and has done so. Gayathri has the right voice for bridging the gap between ignorance and awareness. Her voice has a wonderful balance of compassionate understanding, perception, empathy, and her cultural upbringing lends her the experience to reach those ostracised by stigma.
I’ve mentioned before, especially on my personal blog, I suffer from mental illnesses. I’ve had general anxiety, panic disorder, social phobia, OCD, and have struggled with depression and a choking phobia since I was a child. I’m now thirty-one and am currently accepting treatment for all the aforementioned. My life has been greatly affected by my mental illnesses to the point where I have avoided socialising, have been unable to leave the house, and have contacted suicide helplines. Mental illness is difficult enough to live with without the added stigma from both society and yourself.
Gayathri is very candid about her experiences and gives a very in-depth window into the mindset of someone who is suffering with mental illnesses, but can’t see it. I think there’s a time in everyone’s experience, everyone with a mental illness that is, who doesn’t put two and two together when it comes to their growing symptoms. It’s not always denial, quite often it’s ignorance, and it definitely can take more than yourself to realise something is terribly amiss.
Reading Gayathri’s story made me feel connected to someone else who has struggled and gave me hope, not necessarily for myself (I’m not in a state of deep depression), but for society and humanity. When someone like this can experience what they have, live to tell their story, and then finds the motivation to go beyond their recovery, it is truly inspiring and a relief. I was so easily engrossed by Gayathri’s candour and her prose, by the end of the the book I wanted to actively become involved in her global awareness campaign.
Her story, her words, and the way she delivers it makes Shadows in the Sun a very heartbreaking, bittersweet, but rewarding memoir to read....more
If you’re a reader like me you’ll begin reading a book without high expectations. It doesn’t matteThis review was originally posted on Bookish Ardour.
If you’re a reader like me you’ll begin reading a book without high expectations. It doesn’t matter if you’ve read the author’s work before, or if you’ve been anticipating the current title’s release. You’ve read enough to know not to judge a book by the author’s previous work, or your previous reading history.
Personally I love to reign in my expectations so when I come across something awesome, the end-result-buzz leaves me cuckoo for hours (I tend to move on quickly). I’ve read Terra Whiteman’s The Antithesis series and loved it though, so trying to reign in expectations for her newest release has been difficult. It is even more difficult when you know there’s going to be tough female characters who can kick butt and you have a thing about armed women walking around in cool worn-out outfits (I’m a sucker for the Resident Evil movies). The cover cemented that image in my head, but knowing Meridian is a dystopian science-fiction based story made my imagination swoon with the possibilities.
My mind is still swooning with the possibilities after finishing the story. Meridian is a great mix of plot and character development. Neither aspect dominates, both work nicely together to further the story and fuel the imagination. What more could you want in a story? For starters you could ask for complex, with equal amounts of negative and positive traits, loveable characters. You could ask for easy to imagine cool gadgets, weapons, and technology even though the story is not in our time. You could ask for enough action scenes to get your blood pumping and to carry the momentum while there’s enough downtime to get to know the characters and give your pulse rate a break. You could probably also ask for adequate amounts of moral and religious conflicts without it becoming a heavy read.
I love these ingredients in stories, especially when the social and political aspects are so thwart with arrogance and control. It’s a great way to mess with characters, giving them opportunity for struggle under their developed hard edges, while giving readers an extra reason to root for whomever they choose. I’m rooting for all the characters myself and I’m not sure why. It might just be because I want positive outcomes, but it could also be how the characters are presented. Terra Whiteman has an excellent way of writing characters to make them robust, their morals are never black and white, and I can’t help wanting to adore all of them. I especially love Mercy and Corvis, but I also loved the characters in the prologue and that’s just the prologue!
I can’t pinpoint anything I disliked about Meridian. Obviously I loved the story and the characters, but it also reminded me of great games I’ve played, awesome movies I’ve watched, and yet it didn’t give the impression of copying any other story. Maybe deep down I really want this story to become a game too so I can play it and have more time with the characters… Instead I’ll settle with re-reading Meridian while I patiently wait for the sequel....more
I’ve never really been interested in mermaids. Mermaid tales and myths haven’t been something to hoYou can find this review and more at Bookish Ardour
I’ve never really been interested in mermaids. Mermaid tales and myths haven’t been something to hold my attention for very long, but after reading The Undrowned Child and now Ciye Cho’s Florence, I’m starting to reconsider. I’m not only seeing mermaids in a whole different light, but I’m beginning to enjoy them. I’m not curious about where mermaids come from in general (dugongs, it’s just too easy), but I find my interest piqued when it comes to Cho’s mermaids, their origins, and their culture. I want more mermaids!
It’s probably easy to tell right now that I’m quite taken with Florence. I have lost sleep over this book. Much. Needed. Sleep. One night I woke up with a low blood sugar and, even though I find it hard to focus during them, low blood sugars aren’t a pleasant experience, and it was 3am, I found myself contemplating it as an opportunity. I decided no matter how my blood sugar was making me feel I would squeeze in a chapter. An hour later I went to bed. It can take as little as ten minutes to recover from a blood sugar and yet I was going back to sleep at 4am… what does that tell you?
From the first line until the last I was entertained. After a forced interval from reading, whether it was a break of an hour or a day off with other plans, I found myself instantly engaged whenever I came back to the story. The characters, on top of the imagery, made this effortless to do. The main character, Florence, is easy to relate to. She’s the outcast, but she doesn’t wear on one’s nerves. I think there is a fine line between a character being a relatable, likeable outcast and going to the point of being needy and frustrating. Florence is definitely not the latter. She has a very clear, strong voice and her interactions with the rest of the characters are fun, exciting, and sometimes thrilling to read. I think all the characters are very well rounded, fleshed out, and distinct.
I’m not completely surprised by how vivid and colourful the world of Niemala, the home of Cho’s mermaids, is thanks to having read Shiewo, but I was still thoroughly impressed with the imagery. If someone came along and created a movie adaptation of Florence, it would be something I would decide to watch without hesitation and not just for the story. I’m sure Cho’s world of Niemala would make for a beautiful visual display. The colourful descriptions; sometimes it makes it seem as though the world is being painted as you read. The descriptions aren’t overcomplicated and yet there’s a vibrancy and lushness added to the scenery. Niemala is a place I want to visit.
It’s hard to make me forget I’m reading something someone has written. For the majority of Florence I found myself forgetting and I’m really quite grateful for that. When you lose that ability to forget and immerse most of the time, the stories that make you achieve that mix again hold a special place. Florence holds a special place for me and I’m so glad I didn’t let the idea of mermaids turn me away....more
I could not refuse reading Farsighted when I came across it and not just because EmlynYou can find this review, along with others, at Bookish Ardour.
I could not refuse reading Farsighted when I came across it and not just because Emlyn Chand is such a nice lady. How often do you find yourself coming across a story with all the elements that would attract you in the first place, in this case young adult paranormal themes, and told from the perspective of a character who is vision impaired?
For me I can say not often. I put it in the ‘Hmm should you touch that?’ basket, well when the author herself is not visually impaired that is, along with other uniquely personal conditions. And I’m glad Emlyn Chand decided to go there, but I don’t feel I can remark on how well she captured the perspective so I won’t. What I found really interesting was from the writer’s side of things.
Think about when you begin to read a book; what comes up and is expected in the beginning or close to? Descriptions. Physical descriptions of what people look like. Of course physical descriptions of that kind aren’t going to be present in a first person story narrated by someone who is visually impaired. It’s funny because I knew the character couldn’t see visually, but I still had to remind myself in the beginning why there were no physical descriptions of the people Alex came across.
It was enough to reinforce how much we can take sight for granted, including in written form, and how much we can rely on it to distinguish between one person and another. A character is physically described as burley or lanky, you’ve already got an idea of what type of character they may end up being. Our perceptions of how a character will be have been shaped over years and years of entertainment stereotypes and clichés.
But that’s entering into another argument there.
The point I’m going for here, before I digressed, is Chand has used a technique that she’s pulled off really well. Is it a never-used technique, no I don’t believe so. Is it a unique technique? I think in some ways it is because what a lot of readers have come to expect in writing standards is not something that will be present in a first person story narrated by someone who is visually impaired.
Instead we get smells and sounds, beginning with grass, which I loved. Everyone has their own unique odour and if you pay far closer attention than I did, instead of just being swept away, the different smells Alex shares with us might give you some clues as to what is going on.
There’s also the timbre of people’s voices, the music they create vocally, and the sounds that accompany them when they move or enter a room. Maybe it’s just me, but sometimes it’s easy to forget how much we can identify without the aide of vision. Farsighted brings that to your attention and I loved how the descriptions were utilised to show it. I love the use of other senses instead of relying on visual aspects of everything and how the former can create a picture for you regardless.
One of the best things about this perspective, instead of challenging writing, is the opportunity it presents with having far less emphasis on a person’s visual description. There were no ‘hot’ or ‘beautiful people’ comparisons between groups and characters. I found this very refreshing and I feel it helped to focus on Alex’s ideas and what’s going on in his head without the extra mess of cliques.
As for the story, I didn’t want it to end. When it did it took me a moment to realise that it had, followed by a second of disappointment, before I discovered there’s a sequel on the way.
I adore this story. There’s people with gifts, people struggling, people who need help, and there’s conflict. All the basics you need woven into a well-written plot that can keep you guessing. The romance side of things doesn’t have a large emphasis and I’m not sure if it’s even there to begin with. The romance might be something that has to come about later on with a more subtle beginning. I’m fine with that because I’m not big on romance, but it will still be intriguing to see how it plays out. You can’t really avoid it as it is mixed up in how Alex reacts. That young man has some definite issues to deal with and not of the physical sort.
It was interesting the turn the story took. Alex becomes fixated on the good guys Vs bad guys cliché, possibly to the point of being blinded by it, and I think that turns me off his character somewhat. I actually found myself siding more and more with Dax, the nominated bad guy, before we even find out much about him and what he is up to. There’s that idea there of judging before understanding and not accepting the grey area, which added more dimension to Alex and his experiences. I don’t see Alex giving much a chance. He seems to be more bull-headed and wearing blinders than anything, making up his mind before having all the facts. At some point my impression is of him being an arrogant lose cannon with reactions that might lead to something else and knowing other readers love him has left me baffled to a degree.
I believe Farsighted is a great example of escapism that works as it took me away from all around me. These days I do find it hard to focus on reading when there are noises around me, it doesn’t matter if they’re in another room and are hushed, but it was quite easy to do so with Farsighted. The characters are realistic, they’re interesting, and I think the way Alex perceives them adds an element of mystery to everyone around him. This is definitely a story YA fantasy lovers should check out and I know I’m looking forward to the sequel, Open Heart....more
I love books! If you love books you usually know you love reading all the time, but youYou can find this review, along with others, at Bookish Ardour.
I love books! If you love books you usually know you love reading all the time, but you know how sometimes when you finish reading a book and at that moment you know just how much you love books and reading? I was having that experience as I finished reading Morning Rising by Samantha Boyette and whispers of that feeling while I was reading her novel. I find it hard these days to have that pull a book creates, where you think about it when you’re not reading it, you feel you won’t be able to concentrate on anything else without knowing what happens next, and when it finally ends it’s a bittersweet mix of feeling elated and sad. Morning Rising created that pull for me and after not feeling it so strongly for some time I appreciated the reading experience even more.
I believe this may be a new favourite of mine. Why? So many reasons. The first reason, so I can get this out of the way because I think this may be a big chunk of my love for it, is the LGBT concept. And I’ll just add here, this book is not necessarily about the LGBT community and I feel I must say it should not be the main focus. I can’t help but pay attention to it because I’m irked by so many things and being bisexual and all… So it’s not the focus, but I feel I must comment on it for those who are of the same mindset as me. That of not wanting to deal with stereotypes or the other things I will list further.
Of course it’s not just the LGBT concept on it’s own, that wouldn’t make me express all this love, but what the concept is coupled with. My experience of reading and watching the LGBT genre isn’t always a good one. For the most part, the media is tinged with erotica, or the community is misrepresented and stereotyped, or makes a big deal of there being gay characters. Coming across that enough kind of turns you off wanting to experience LGBT media all together.
Morning Rising isn’t erotica, there’s no stereotyping, I don’t get the impression of the author giving herself a pat on the back (I’ve read books like that before and it was painful) and my favourite is there’s no singling out anyone’s sexuality. It’s all just normal really, which is great because it is normal, but it’s lovely to be able to read a story where it isn’t made into a big deal (like I seem to be doing at the moment…). Can you tell I read mostly straight fiction? Probably. My point is the love interest isn’t a cliché in that boy meets girl way thanks to so much media expecting women to end up with men. At the same time I don’t think the whole girl ends up with girl scenario was overpowering either. It’s more of a this-person-loves-this-person scenario and gender doesn’t come into it.
I love that it’s also a YA novel. I think it’s important for there to be stories young adults can read and enjoy, both straight and LGBT, where they can relate to the characters regardless of their sexuality. And not have it geared towards one side of sexual orientation. My view may be clouded because I am bisexual, but I do feel the focus was far more on the characters and their connection to each other to the point where straight readers could read Morning Rising and not only enjoy it, but relate.
As for the characters and story itself – I’m not big on fairy even though I’ve read it a few times, but I really liked the idea of Inbetween. I would have loved to experience the world some more, but the glimpses you’re afforded while you’re reading is enough to paint a picture and give you a feel for what this place is like. There’s a great mix of fey creatures, some we know, some we’d recognise yet they’re not the generally perceived view, and others that come across as original creations. There really is motley there, but they all fit in with the fey setting.
It was also interesting having the characters have individual powers. While that could have given the story a lacklustre feel by giving the characters too easy an out, I felt they had enough limitations to not always tip the plot in their favour. However, I would have liked one of the battle scenes to include more of what was going on around them rather than centring mostly on the girls. For the length of the book though, I think the detail of the battle scenes was acceptable and it helped those scenes still had plenty of action coupled with fast-paced writing.
I enjoyed all of the characters, even Dylan. Although when it came to Dylan I found the like took some time to develop, but I think that was mainly due to her spending a lot of time under the influence of drugs. The girl has some issues to start with and then there is another reason why there are so many drugs. Getting to know her, unlike with Kara, was sketchy in the sense of her having to recover memories. I don’t feel this gave a fragmented view of her character, but I do feel it played a big role in warming up to her.
The other characters on the other hand, especially Kara and those she comes across, I found much easier to get to know and warm up to. I can’t wait to discover what happens with them and this is one of those times I’m delighted to know this is not a stand-alone novel....more
Take poetry, add Tim Burton, and you have awesome! OK, I might be bias because I love a lot of Tim Burton's creations even though I haven't watched alTake poetry, add Tim Burton, and you have awesome! OK, I might be bias because I love a lot of Tim Burton's creations even though I haven't watched all of them, but it's hard not to once you get a taste of his art. Sure the poetry in this case isn’t complex, the stories are short, and the majority are thoroughly morbid as so many other readers would point out, but it's a fun book nonetheless and I'm glad I found it.
No matter how bad in taste some of the stories are and how many have children or babies with defects (like Robot Boy for instance), The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy is hilarious. Twisted, macabre, and just screwed up, I still found it funny and wonderful, while also being sad at times. I don't know what that says about me, but I also don't care.
These are some of the very non-cryptic titles to paint you more of a picture - The Boy with Nails in His Eyes, The Girl Who Turned into a Bed, Stain Boy, Jimmy The Hideous Penguin Boy and it pretty much goes on like that. Those titles state basically what does happen, but the pictures add to the stories by fleshing them out, and giving them some dimension. In some cases I think a lack of images would make the stories fall rather flat. Not that the tales by themselves wouldn’t express and evoke some sort of emotion completely, but it really is a case of two types of art complementing each other.
I think it goes without saying that a lot of Goths at heart and Tim Burton fans would get a kick out of this book, but I also believe it would make a quirky little collector's item to have on a book lover's bookshelf....more
What a pleasure Coyote’s Daughter was to read. Here is an example of why self-published authors should not be stigmatised and instead given a go. StraWhat a pleasure Coyote’s Daughter was to read. Here is an example of why self-published authors should not be stigmatised and instead given a go. Straight away I was appreciating several elements of the story; being able to see how well written grammar and sentence structure wise it was within the first few pages, being introduced to the main character Maggie and being able to glean an idea of her personality while the story was carried forward as opposed to pausing the narrative to introduce the character, having surroundings described without being inundated with detail. All of this was enough to sell the story to me and get me hooked within the first five pages.
It does help that I’m a sucker for folklore and mythology, especially with Spanish folklore, combined with modern world perspective. I love how the fantasy setting isn’t what’s now a cliché, such as Pict and Celtic backgrounds, and what I appreciated even more was the story took place mostly at her house, on this trail, around and in Ash’s village, but didn’t feel as though the story was restricted because of it.
Maggie is a likeable character and yes she is unhappy about her family moving, but I picked up more loneliness compared to resentment. In fact, the impression I have of Maggie is of someone who is very thoughtful, worrying about how her parents were feeling, and able to move on from negative feelings brought about by the move. It probably helps the other characters she meets are just as likeable and readable.
**spoiler alert** When I finish a book that I’m going to review, I usually try to write about it straight after so my thoughts are still fresh and I s**spoiler alert** When I finish a book that I’m going to review, I usually try to write about it straight after so my thoughts are still fresh and I still remember the feeling it left with me, but that wasn’t the case with Survivor. I’m still writing this review within a couple hours of finishing it, but I’m also procrastinating.
I finished reading Survivor and opted to potter around the house, do a little housework, and I admit I let out some discontented sighs every now and then because of the book… This sounds like I’m going in a negative direction doesn’t it? I’m not. It’s been awhile since I read a novel in part of a series or trilogy that left me wanting more; left me wanting more enough to lament reading it in the first place and ruing the decision not to wait till the next book!
I find Survivor, just like its predecessor, to be one of those books that are hard to put down, make you want to miss out on sleep, and get so sucked in to the character’s world that it can take awhile to come back again. The trilogy so far is, in short, addictive.
After the twist at the end of Chasers, and thankfully to a re-read just before I began Survivor, I was left saddened and wondering how Jesse was going to cope with not only his revelation, but being alone from then on. I was a little thrown by where he was when we first come across him because of where the previous book had left him and the idea of where he would be had taken a deep root into my brain, but it soon became clear what was going on and once again I was able to be sucked into his story.
The way Survivor is written gives you a chance to mourn and come to grips with the loss of his friends at the same time Jesse does, which is great because that revelation was quite the shell shocking kind if you didn’t see it coming.
I think Eugenics, without any help or added extras, is a creepy subject to begin with; practice of it is a horror in itself. Human beings are usuallyI think Eugenics, without any help or added extras, is a creepy subject to begin with; practice of it is a horror in itself. Human beings are usually influenced by their emotions and their belief systems, and I think Eugenics gives a human being too much capability, and excuse, to be a bigot. In my opinion, Eugenics can never be a practice without prejudice, and the idea of people in power practicing it is horrifying (Hitler is a great example of this). Eugenics is a great format to delve into issues of racism, ethics, morals, and belief systems, but the use of it as a horror story has been really well presented by Nickle. It’s been awhile since I have read a book at night time, which has left me feeling unsettled when I’m trying to go to sleep afterwards. Eutopia unsettled me whilst also wrapping me up in its story and having me enjoy it.
It’s set in the early 1900s when Eugenics was a favoured ideal at the time and I think the place and time is captured and conveyed really well via the way the characters interact and share their thoughts with us. And unlike other stories set in that time, it is not convoluted with the language of Victoriana. Don’t get me wrong, I adore Victorian settings and stories written and based in that time, but there are times when the language of it can come across as being a little too up itself and hard to digest. How easy it is to digest can have an impact on the pace of it. Eutopia, whilst still keeping in with Victorian language, isn’t overly verbose about it. I found this helped keep up the pace and suspense, a suspense that is subtle and smart, but not pretentious, in its delivery.