Tag: mental-health

Book Review: Part of the Silence, by Debbie Howells

Part ofthe Silence
Image belongs to Kensington Books.

The Cornwall coast is a quiet place of haunting beauty. Not much happens there. Evie Sherman is found battered and almost dead in a field, with no memory of who she is.  When flickers of her memory return, the community comes together to search for her missing daughter, Angel. The only thing Evie knows for sure is that Angel is in terrible danger.

But the police can find no trace that Angel exists and soon start to wonder if Evie’s having a mental breakdown as scenes from the past exert their pull on the present. And as the darkness around Evie deepens, her internal warning—Trust no one—grows stronger, as she searches for the daughter she remembers when no one else believes.

Debbie Howells is a former flight instructor with an expertise in wedding flowers. Her newest novel, Part of the Silence, hits stores on June 27th.

The setting in Part of the Silence is as much a character as Evie is, and now I really want to visit Cornwall. Not by myself, since the novel is a bit creepy, though. I enjoyed the mystery of the novel, both the present-day one, and the linked one in the past, although I did not feel a connection to the characters—possibly because Evie did not trust any of them.

(Galley provided by Kensington Books via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)

Review: The Rules of Half, by Jenna Patrick

the rules of half
Image belongs to SparkPress.

Jenna Patrick writes fiction from North Carolina. The Rules of Half is her debut novel.

Half Moon Hollow is your typical small town:  high school football on Friday nights, everybody knows everybody else, and the town crazy to torment just because. Will Fletcher used to be married, a father, and a veterinarian. Now he is none of those things. Instead, his severe bipolar disorder has him living with his sister and trying to forget the trauma of his past. But when a fifteen-year-old orphan shows up, claiming she’s his daughter, Will’s world is turned upside down.

Regan Whitmer is running away from her abusive stepfather and her mother’s suicide, looking for family. Will wasn’t quite what she had in mind, but Regan wants to put the shame of her past behind her, and forge a new life and a new family. Can Regan and Will overcome his mental illness as they learn what family truly is?

The Rules of Half deals with a tough topic—mental illness—in a way that makes it understandable and sympathetic, instead of eliciting judgment and disbelief, reactions that are far too common. The stigma of mental illness is alive and well in Half Moon Hollow, but Regan and Will move past that as they learn how to love themselves and those around them. This book is truly eye-opening, an up-close look at the experience of mental illness, that will draw sympathy from the reader, as well as more awareness. I highly recommend it!

(Galley provided by SparkPress.)

The Weight of Him, by Ethel Rohan

Image belongs to St. Martin’s Press.

Ethel Rohan was born and raised in Dublin, Ireland, but now lives in San Francisco. She is an award-winning author of short stories, chapbooks, and memoirs. The Weight of Him is her first novel.

At four hundred pounds, Billy Brennan has always turned to food for comfort. He’s obsessed with food:  not just the taste, but the textures and everything about it. Especially the way it makes his mind go quiet. But in the wake of his son Michael’s suicide, not even food will help him.

Embracing the concept of “go big or go home,” Billy decides to lose half his body weight to raise money for suicide prevention…and to save his family from falling apart. But Billy’s family just wants to go on, and Billy struggles alone. As word of Billy’s efforts spreads, he gains unexpected allies as he learns to deal with his emotions and his regrets while he strives to find meaning in Michael’s death.

I wanted to read this novel because it’s set in Ireland—which is at the top of my bucket list—and because it deals with suicide—because a couple of people close to me struggle with debilitating depression and suicide is a real problem that people don’t like to talk about. (Mental illness is real, people, and if we don’t talk about it, how can we help those who struggle with it? Depression is HARD.)

But this book…it’s powerful. Not only does it talk about suicide, but about eating disorders and disordered eating. With the stigma attached to those who are overweight. Billy has emotional wounds he’s never dealt with, and Michael’s death just ripped the scab off them. Now, when he’s actually trying to deal with and heal his issues, his family wants to keep pretending they don’t exist. This is a very moving book that deals with difficult subjects.

(Galley courtesy of St. Martin’s Press via NetGalley.)

Unnatural Deeds, by Cyn Balog

Image belongs to Sourcebooks Fire.

Cyn Balog is a young adult author. Her newest novel is Unnatural Deeds.

Victoria Zell has never fit in. Not that she cares. She and her homeschooled boyfriend, Andrew, are inseparable, so Victoria doesn’t care about anyone else. Until Zachary Zimmerman shows up in her homeroom:  he’s gorgeous and popular, everything Victoria is not. Within the first hour, he convinces her to cut class, and now Victoria can’t get enough of that rush.

Even though Vic is loyal to Andrew, she is drawn to Z. But Z has secrets, and soon Vic is lying to everyone as she tries to unravel those secrets. Except Z isn’t the only one with secrets, and Vic’s past will come back to haunt her in its destructive rampage.

This book…I thought I knew where it was going. Seriously. All the signs pointed one way, and then we ended up completely off the map. I never saw the ending coming. Like, at all. Z and Vic are both great characters, and you’ll find yourself drawn into their mystery as they struggle to untangle it. You should definitely read this book!

(Galley provided by Sourcebooks Fire.)

Cutter Boy, by Cristy Watson

I do not own this image. Image used courtesy of James Lorimer & Company.)


Cristy Watson is a teacher who writes poetry and YA. Her newest story is Cutter Boy.

Travis is bullied at school and ignored at home. He has no one to talk to. The only thing that gives him peace is cutting himself with a razor blade. When he meets new girl Chyvonne at school, he wants to get to know her better, but he’s afraid she’ll find out his secret.

As Travis grows closer to Chyvonne, he wonders what causes his mother to hate him so much. Then he finds the art of paper cutting, which seems to be the only other option to make himself feel better. Will Travis ever win his struggle with self-harm?

Cutter Boy is a difficult and dark short novel that delves into an area seldom explored in literature:  self-harm among guys. Travis’ journey is wrenching and emotionally gripping.

(Galley courtesy of James Lorimer & Company.)

Happiness Is…Words on Paper

You know what’s awesome?  Writing.

Do you know how long it’s been since I wrote anything besides random emails and interminable school papers?  At least three months.

Do you know how happy writing again makes me?  Extremely.

Granted, I didn’t write much.  But school started again this week, and I decided that, in addition to my piles of school work ( I feel like a fifth year at Hogwarts), I would make time for writing.  And blogging.  No exceptions.  No more procrastinating.  Just me and my characters and heaps of trouble.

And you know what?  Once I made myself start, it felt fantastic!  I’ve missed writing so much.  I can never not write this long again.  It’s unacceptable.

How else am I going to capture the magic around me, if I don’t write?  Besides, I have to keep my characters safe from the zombies.



Holly Lisle is looking for readers and writers to build a community that fosters the growth of new writers.  The readers will have the opportunity to help writers they support to grow and learn, the writers will gain support and assistance where they need it.  Holly does wonderful things for other writers, and this is a fantastic new idea of hers that is still in beta development.  If you’re interested, check it out here.

Writing Inspiration: Where Do You Find It?

Or where does it find you?

Personally, Pinterest, while undoubtedly an excellent form of time-wasting, is also a wellspring of ideas.  The unending supply of pictures–of everything from colorful people to almost-unearthly places–frequently sets the wheels humming in the back of my mind. I’ll be innocently scrolling through the thread-that-never-ends, and the Muse will say “Hmm.  Hang on a sec.”

Things like this:

(Found here.)
(Found here.)

And this:

(Picture found here.)
(Picture found here.)


Or maybe even this:

(Image found here.)
(Image found here.)


Pictures like that make the Muse happy, make her imagination run wild.  So where do you find inspiration?

(I found these images via Pinterest, and did try to find out who owned them.  If they belong to you, and you want them taken down, please let me know.  I appreciate your beautiful work.)

The (Changing) Habits of Readers

Okay, I admit it.  I love to read fiction.  Especially fantasy.  Bonus enjoyability points if it’s YA fantasy.  I’ve read predominantly fantasy for years now, with a few forays out into mysteries, forensic thrillers, and humor (Stephanie Plum, anyone?).  I normally read several books at a time, with one “main” book that I pick up whenever I have a spare moment.  Normally, these are all fiction.

But lately, my TBR pile has moved into uncharted territory for me:  non-fiction.  Exclusively non-fiction.  What?  That’s what I thought, too.  Now, instead of the latest fantasy gem to catch my eye, I’m reading–and eagerly awaiting reading–books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, In Defense of Food, Pandora’s Seed, and The First Human.  Granted, The First Human is reading for my anthropology class, but I’m really enjoying it and am finding it quite interesting.  Pandora’s Seed also started off as reading for my evolution and ecology class–last semester–but it’s pretty interesting as well, and ties into my latest personal research into environmental issues.  The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food are both about topics that I find very relevant of late, as I focus more on my health and eating healthier in general.  Both gave me a lot of–excuse the pun–food for thought, and gave me more focus on how I spend my food dollars, and the statement I want to make with them.

I’ve also been doing more spirit-based reading, including The Blessed Life, by Pastor Robert Morris (pastor at my church, Gateway Church, and a phenomenally gifted speaker).  Up next are the Divine Revelation books, and some more spirit-based reading.

Basically, I’ve found that my reading habits have changed lately, more closely tying in to the personal growth areas I’m working on.  Instead of reading for sheer entertainment, now I seem to be drawn to books that will help me grow.

Does anyone else find that their reading habits change over time, or in certain situations?

to someone I used to know….

(No, he doesn’t read this blog, he doesn’t even know of its existence.  This is just a form of personal therapy, a way to get these thoughts out of my head and find some sort of closure, even if it’s only in my own mind.)

Hey.  It’s me.  You know, the one you claimed to love.  The one you said you “could see yourself spending the rest of your life with.”  The one you made plans with to move to California, to get 3 dogs with (yes, I still think “Bear Jew” is a stupid name for a dog).  The one you asked “Can you just hang around for the next 50 years or so?”  Yep.  Me.

I wish I had known upfront that you were not the person you said you were.  I wish I had known that all those things you said, all those plans you described, all the promises you made, were lies.  When we first started dating, you told me so many things, things from your past, things that you weren’t proud of, and I never judged you for any of that.  I never thought less of you.  I still loved you unconditionally and accepted you , just as you were.

And I told you things I’d never told anyone else.  You knew exactly how badly I’d been hurt in the past, and promised me you wouldn’t do that to me.  But you did.  Twice.  You broke my heart, knowing exactly how badly it would hurt me, you did it anyway.  The first time, I accepted your reasoning as logical, even if I still thought it was stupid.  It made a sort of sense, and I knew you still loved me, we were still in each others’ lives.  The second time…sigh…

The second time it was just plain selfish, childish, cowardice.  Because you can’t deal with real life, with civilian life.  Because you think only of yourself.  Because growing up and having an adult relationship scares you.  Because you refuse to get  help, even when you know you need it.  Because you freak out and have panic attacks when you realize that people you’ve known for years are now grown-ups and don’t want to party and drink all the time.  Shocking, I know, how some people realize there are more important things in life than self-gratification.  Imagine that…

I still care about you, very much, but I have found peace in my life now.  I still think about you sometimes, memories still hit me out of nowhere sometimes and feel like a dagger to the heart, but I have peace.  I’m so much stronger than I was before.  But I’m harder as well, and you did that to me.  Even with my trust issues and what I knew of you, I trusted you, and now it will be harder than ever for me to trust anyone again.  I still don’t understand how you can claim to love someone and knowingly hurt them this badly.  You’d been hurt like that before, so how could you do that to me?

We had an amazing relationship.  We never fought.  We didn’t always agree, but we balanced each other out, and we enjoyed being together so much.  I never tried to change you.  I never stopped you from doing what you wanted, from going out with your friends, from spending time with your family.  The only things I ever asked of you were to be honest with me, and to be who you said you were.

Funny how those are the two things you just couldn’t do.

I heard through the grapevine that you thought about texting me, but didn’t, because you weren’t sure how I would respond.  I’ve made my peace.  I have forgiven you.  I haven’t completely let go of all of the negative emotions, all of the hurt, the regret, the pain, but I’m trying.  No, I haven’t made any effort to contact you, because you made it clear that you no longer wanted me in your life.  I simply gave you what you wanted, and took myself out of your life.  I don’t hate you.  I still care about you.  But I won’t put myself into someone’s life who doesn’t want me there.  If you want to contact me, that’s fine, but I’m not going to initiate it.

I wish only the best for you.  I hope that one day you realize who you are, that who you claim to be isn’t actually who you are.  I hope your son stays who he is, and doesn’t learn certain things from you, that he doesn’t turn into the bitter, cynical person you are.  Most of all, I hope that you find God, and that you realize that He is what you need to fill that hole inside of you, not drinking and partying and meaningless encounters.

I do still love you, but I need someone who is who they claim to be.  A real, honest, trustworthy man, someone who is worthy of my love.  Someone who won’t hurt me.  Someone who doesn’t think only of himself.  Someone like the person you claimed to be.

When I told you I was letting go, what I really meant was “good-bye.”