Bookworm Bloggin’: Little Deaths by Emma Flint

Synopsis

27845924It’s 1965 in a tight-knit working-class neighborhood in Queens, New York, and Ruth Malone–a single mother who works long hours as a cocktail waitress–wakes to discover her two small children, Frankie Jr. and Cindy, have gone missing. Later that day, Cindy’s body is found in a derelict lot a half mile from her home, strangled. Ten days later, Frankie Jr.’s decomposing body is found. Immediately, all fingers point to Ruth.

As police investigate the murders, the detritus of Ruth’s life is exposed. Seen through the eyes of the cops, the empty bourbon bottles and provocative clothing which litter her apartment, the piles of letters from countless men and Ruth’s little black book of phone numbers, make her a drunk, a loose woman–and therefore a bad mother. The lead detective, a strict Catholic who believes women belong in the home, leaps to the obvious conclusion: facing divorce and a custody battle, Malone took her children’s lives.

Pete Wonicke is a rookie tabloid reporter who finagles an assignment to cover the murders. Determined to make his name in the paper, he begins digging into the case. Pete’s interest in the story develops into an obsession with Ruth, and he comes to believe there’s something more to the woman whom prosecutors, the press, and the public have painted as a promiscuous femme fatale. Did Ruth Malone violently kill her own children, is she a victim of circumstance–or is there something more sinister at play?

Inspired by a true story, Little Deaths, like celebrated novels by Sarah Waters and Megan Abbott, is compelling literary crime fiction that explores the capacity for good and evil in us all.

Review

IF YOU LIKE SUSPENSEFUL PAGE-TURNING BOOKS, YOU MUST READ LITTLE DEATHS.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, I want to start off by saying that I loved this book. I was a bit hesitant at first when I was trying to decide if I wanted to read it because I wasn’t sure if I would like the classic crime noir feel. With that being said, I’m so happy that I decided to give Little Deaths a shot!

When I initially started to read this book I did not realize that the story is based on details from a real case. For me, this added a whole new level of excitement to the book and it caused me to spend entirely too much time looking up details of the case. The story is just that compelling!

One reaction that I was not anticipating when I initially picked up this book was the pure rage that I experienced as a result of the prejudice and scrutiny that the main character experienced from the police and the media. As a feminist, I became enraged with the idiocy of the way that Ruth was treated and the unfairness of it all. I am aware that women were often subjected to harsh judgments, prejudice, and inequality in the 60s; however, this book brought these issues to the forefront of my awareness in a way that I had never experienced before and the anger that I felt as a result was extremely overwhelming at times.

In terms of the story itself, I found the character development to be superb and while the plot was a bit slow it still achieved the suspenseful purpose of shocking me entirely with the unexpected ending. Seriously, I did NOT see that coming… So, if you’re in the mood for a good suspense novel with an old classics feel, look no further.

Happy reading!

Ayla

Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest reader review. The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

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Bookworm Bloggin’: A Tragic Kind of Wonderful

Synopsis

28575699For sixteen-year-old Mel Hannigan, bipolar disorder makes life unpredictable. Her latest struggle is balancing her growing feelings in a new relationship with her instinct to keep everyone at arm’s length. And when a former friend confronts Mel with the truth about the way their relationship ended, deeply buried secrets threaten to come out and upend her shaky equilibrium.

As the walls of Mel’s compartmentalized world crumble, she fears the worst–that her friends will abandon her if they learn the truth about what she’s been hiding. Can Mel bring herself to risk everything to find out?

In A Tragic Kind of Wonderful, Eric Lindstrom, author of the critically acclaimed Not If I See You First, examines the fear that keeps us from exposing our true selves, and the courage it takes to be loved for who we really are.

Review

For those of you who are long-time readers, you’ll know that my passion in life is mental health. So when I was given the opportunity to read and review a book that deals with a serious mental health condition, I jumped on it!

I want to start off by saying that I have never personally struggled with bipolar disorder so I cannot speak to the accuracy of the book’s portrayal of the disorder. With that being said, a quick scroll through the growing number of reviews on Goodreads reveals that many individuals who have read the book and who struggle with bipolar disorder found it to be accurate and realistic in the depictions of the illness. While this may not be such an important detail for people who are just in it for a good story (which you will definitely get, but more on that later!) it is extremely important to me because accurate media content helps to end stigma and raise awareness about mental health. For this accomplishment alone I think the book deserves 5 starts.

Moving on to the the storyline itself, I found this book to be engaging and heartbreaking at the same time. The main character, Mel, deals with so much isolation and fears of abandonment and the sadness involved in this experience is so authentic. On top of this, Mel goes through a tremendous amount of family turmoil and loss which makes her story that much more heartbreaking (but in the interest of remaining spoiler-free, you’ll have to read the book to learn more about that particular detail).

Another element of the story which really stands out is Mel’s inability to trust. She distances herself from her friends at school and as the reader it felt so easy to empathize with this distrust and understand why she would feel that way. Recently being diagnosed with bipolar disorder would be hard enough to deal with on it’s own without adding in all of the additional life changes that Mel is facing. Throughout the entirety of the book I found myself feeling a rollercoaster of emotions from extreme sadness to compassion to anger at the unfairness of Mel having to go through so much on her own. Mel felt so REAL to me. I didn’t feel as though I was reading a work of fiction; I felt as though I was looking through a window into the life of a real girl going through real pain, and for me this felt like a very helpless experience. I wanted to reach out and help her!

With all of that being said, I think it’s safe to say that I loved this book. It is a fast-paced story full of ups and downs; yet, somehow Mel manages to make it through. I found this book to be inspiring and educational at the same time which is not an easy feat to accomplish. If you’re looking for a good book to learn about bipolar disorder, or if you’re looking for a place to feel understood as someone going through the disorder I would highly recommend reading A Tragic Kind of Wonderful. Eric Lindstrom does a magnificent job of dealing with tough issues in a realistic and powerful way that left me feeling such strong emotions!

My overall rating: 5 stars.

Thanks for reading!

Ayla

Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest reader review. The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own.

Detached by Christina Kilbourne Review

Deatched-BlogTourHeader-v1
Synopsis

Anna has always been so level-headed, so easy-going, so talented and funny. How could anyone have guessed she wanted to die?

Anna is not like other people. For one thing, she’s been an accomplished artist since she was a preschooler. For another, she’s always felt like she didn’t belong: not with other kids, not with her family, not in her body. It isn’t until her grandparents are killed in a tragic accident, however, that Anna starts to feel untethered. She begins to wonder what it would be like if she didn’t exist and the thought of escaping the aimless drifting is the only thing that brings her comfort.

When Anna overdoses on prescription pain killers the doctors realize she has been suffering from depression and start looking for a way to help her out of the desperate black hole she never thought she would escape. It’s then that rock bottom comes into sight and the journey back to normal begins.

Review

I want to begin this review by first recognizing the author’s dedication to writing a book of hope rather than writing for the purpose of glamorizing mental illness. While I believe that there can be tremendous value and inspiration found in the pages of books about mental illness, I also believe that if authors are not careful, their work can do more harm than good. Christina Kilbourne not only recognizes this fact, but she does a wonderful job of harnessing the power of written words in a way that inspires the reader to seek help or empathize with the character rather than triggering copycat behavior.

While I was in the initial stages of researching this book, I came across a quote from the author which states, “I wanted a story that would be sensitive, but not suggestive. I wanted a story that would appeal to teens, yet not scare off parents, teachers or librarians. I wanted a story that would show the despair suicide brings to family and friends without being preachy […] I wanted to write a book about suicide that would bring hope, understanding and perhaps a measure of comfort to anyone who might be reading and want to end their life. At the same time, I wanted those who had lost a loved one to suicide to realize it wasn’t their fault”.

My reader’s note to the author (if she ever happens to read this…) is that Detached absolutely 100% without a doubt achieves each and every one of these goals. I did not find the book to be the least bit suggestive or preachy and as a mid-twenties reader I could definitely see myself referring Detached to teenagers and older adults alike. The story is written with such finesse and the reader truly gets to experience an inside look at depression, suicide, and the debilitating reality of mental health conditions. If you are someone who has personally experienced depression, suicidal ideation, or suicidal behaviors, you might just find yourself feeling incredibly understood  and inspired by the pages of Detached. Alternatively, if you are someone who has not personally struggled but has a loved one who does, you might begin to better understand what your loved one is feeling by reading Kilbourne’s novel.

Detached is both deeply saddening and yet somehow powerfully inspiring. I felt such a strong connection to the main character, Anna, due to my own experiences with mental illness and I can honestly say that Kilbourne did an excellent job of depicting Anna’s struggles realistically rather than glamorizing it for a more dramatic storyline. But don’t let that statement convince you that the story is not dramatic; on the contrary, I found Detached to be an entirely gripping novel to read. I could NOT put this book down! In fact, when my alarm woke me up at 9am the morning after I finished Detached I mentally scolded myself for staying up until 3am reading, but it was definitely well worth staying up to finish!

One unique element to this book which I have not previously found in any young adult fiction about mental illness is the inclusion of an adult point of view. The story is told from the rotating perspectives of Anna, her best friend, and her mother. This aspect of the book is both intriguing and functional because it allows the reader to approach the story from their own perspective whether they are the person who is struggling or the person who is looking in trying to help. In my opinion, this element of the novel makes it more appealing to a wider audience because adults might actually find it easier to relate to the story from the adult perspective. Of course, this is just a theory as I am not a parent nor an “adult” (I refuse to embrace that title until I’m at least 25) but I might test this theory by referring the book to a few of the more “adultier” adults in my life to see what they think!

On another note, I also wanted to take a moment to appreciate the applicability of the title of Detached. When I think of my own experiences with depression, the first thing that comes to mind is the overwhelming feeling of being detached and isolated from the world around me. While no two people will experience mental illness in the same way, I know many people who have expressed a similar feeling of detachment from both themselves and those around them. I can think of absolutely no better word to describe Anna’s story in this novel and if I’m being completely honest, it was the title which initially drew me to this book and inspired my decision to contact the publisher for an advanced reader copy. So in this respect, I suppose you might say that I began empathizing with this book before I even turned the first page.

Overall, Detached is an incredibly remarkable story about grief, suicide, substance abuse, and learning to rebuild a shattered life. Upon further reflection I realized that this book is reminiscent of one of my favorite quotes by J. K. Rowling which states, “rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life”.  This quote has been something of a mantra that I have adopted into my own life when I am struggling and I found myself relating to Detached in the same way that I relate to the quote. The story allowed me to feel as though my struggles are valid while still recognizing the fact that it is possible to overcome even the darkest of depressive episodes.

I honestly believe that this story has the potential to save lives. If you or someone you know is struggling, perhaps you might consider reading this novel. It might just help you shine a light on all the darkness in your life.

Lastly, I would also like to point out that the Detached blog tour is perfectly timed to align with the approaching World Suicide Prevention Day which occurs on September 10, 2016. I can think of no other book which would be better suited to raising awareness about suicide so it seems especially fitting that Dundern Press has arranged for this book tour to take place in alignment with such an important day. I am so thankful for the opportunity to be part of this book tour and I would like to encourage all of my readers to not only read Detached which was recently released, but also to raise awareness and start conversations on World Suicide Prevention Day. Every voice counts in the fight to end mental health stigma!

xo
Ayla

Note: I received a complementary copy of this book from Dundurn press in exchange for an honest reader review and participation in the Detached Book Tour. The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own. 

Reminder: FREE BOOK GIVEAWAY (open to Canadian residents)

9780349142104If you haven’t already, be sure to enter to win a FREE copy of The Dog Who Dared To Dream! I’ve partnered up with Hachette Book Group this month to offer one lucky winner a free copy of THE DOG WHO DARED TO DREAM, a book which I absolutely adored (see my review here)! In addition to receiving a finished copy of the book, the winner will also receive an exclusive book poster as well as a postcard.

Contest Rules and Regulations:

  • Open to Canadian residents only
  • Opens September 1st, 2016 12:00 PM EST and closes September 6th, 2016 12:00 PM EST
  • The winner will receive a finished copy of THE DOG WHO DARED TO DREAM plus a special edition full sized poster and postcard!

If you are interested in entering this giveaway, please fill out the contact form below.
Note: entries submitted after 12:00 PM EST on September 6th, 2016 will not be considered. 

The winner of the giveaway will be contacted by email on or before September 8th, 2016. Please note, only the winner will be contacted.

Thank you for your interest and good luck!

Ayla

GIVEAWAY! Calling all bookworms: Enter to win a free copy of The Dog Who Dared to Dream!

9780349142104Calling all bookworms!! I’ve partnered up with Hachette Book Group this month to offer one lucky winner a free copy of THE DOG WHO DARED TO DREAM, a book which I absolutely adored (see my review here)! In addition to receiving a finished copy of the book, the winner will also receive an exclusive book poster as well as a postcard.

Contest Rules and Regulations:

  • Open to Canadian residents only
  • Opens September 1st, 2016 12:00 PM EST and closes September 6th, 2016 12:00 PM EST
  • The winner will receive a finished copy of THE DOG WHO DARED TO DREAM plus a special edition full sized poster and postcard!

 

 

If you are interested in entering this giveaway, please fill out the contact form below.
Note: entries submitted after 12:00 PM EST on September 6th, 2016 will not be considered. 

The winner of the giveaway will be contacted by email on or before September 8th, 2016. Please note, due to the volume of entries received for contests such as this, only the winner will be contacted.

Thank you for your interest and good luck!

Ayla

Bookworm Bloggin’: And the trees crept in by Dawn Kurtagich

28449150Synopsis

When Silla and Nori arrive at their aunt’s home, it’s immediately clear that the “blood manor” is cursed. The creaking of the house and the stillness of the woods surrounding them would be enough of a sign, but there are secrets too–the questions that Silla can’t ignore: Who is the beautiful boy that’s appeared from the woods? Who is the man that her little sister sees, but no one else? And why does it seem that, ever since they arrived, the trees have been creeping closer?

Filled with just as many twists and turns as The Dead House, and with achingly beautiful, chilling language that delivers haunting scenes, AND THE TREES CREPT IN is the perfect follow-up novel for master horror writer Dawn Kurtagich.

Review

AND THE TREES CREPT IN is the very first horror book that I’ve attempted to read and I have to say that I am a bit of a wimp when it comes to creepy/scary movies so it should be no surprise that this book absolutely terrified me. So if you’re like me and you scare easily, my first piece of advice is to not read this book alone, in the dark, in silence, near ominous looking trees/wooded areas, or just before bed. And now that we’ve got the advice out of the way, lets get into the actual review!

First of all, I want to commend the author for such a vividly descriptive book. In fact, I would argue that this particular element of her writing style is probably one of the major reasons why the book was actually so thoroughly terrifying. I could imagine the scenes in my head so vividly that it was as if I was watching the story unfold before my eyes; I felt immersed in the book and this factor made it that much creepier to read. I found myself needing to listen to a white noise recording in the background to keep me grounded in the real world while reading this book because otherwise it was just way too creepy for me to handle it!

One unique experience that I had while reading this book was this overwhelming desire to know what happens next while simultaneously being too afraid to keep reading. Reading this book became almost frustrating at times because I desperately wanted to know what was going to happen but I was too creeped out to continue reading. The book was a page-turner to say the least but I almost felt as though I had to weigh the pros and cons of continuing at some points because I actually hate the feeling of fear but I still wanted to read the book. In the end, I had to read this book in small bursts throughout the day. I could handle it in smaller doses…just barely.

As a genre, I don’t think I’ll be reading horror again anytime soon, if ever. While I realized that AND THE TREES CREPT IN was going to be a thriller, I don’t think I realized just how intensely terrifying it was going to be until I was laying awake at 3am unable to fall asleep because I was terrified. Evidently, this genre is not for me! However, the book itself is fantastic! If you’re looking for a book that will horrify you and keep you coming back for more, look no further! AND THE TREES CREPT IN will be out in September 2016 so if you’re a horror fanatic, be sure to add this one to your to-read list and pick up a copy. It will be sure to terrify you.

Ayla

Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest reader review. The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own. 

Bookworm Bloggin’: Cradle and All by James Patterson

lg-cradleandall-teen-editionSynopsis

In Boston, a young woman finds herself pregnant–even though she is still a virgin.

In Ireland, another young woman discovers she is in the same impossible condition.

And in cities all around the world, medical authorities are overwhelmed by epidemics, droughts, famines, floods, and worse. It all feels like a sign that something awful is coming.

Anne Fitzgerald, a former nun turned private investigator, is hired by the Archdiocese of Boston to investigate the immaculate conceptions. Even as she comes to care about and trust the young women, she realizes that both are in great danger. Terrifying forces of light and darkness are gathering. Stepping into uncharted territory where the unknown is just the beginning, Anne must discover the truth–to save the young women, to save herself, and to protect the future of all mankind.

Review

As someone who works at a bookstore, I often find myself in a position to give book recommendations in various genres. As a result, I’ve been trying to branch out and read books by popular authors as well as reading books that I wouldn’t otherwise read. While Cradle and All is certainly not among the typical young adult books that I usually read, I was drawn to this story and I thought it would be the perfect first-look into the vast array of books by James Patterson.

If I had to choose one word to describe this book, it would be “gripping”. Cradle and All is a page-turning masterpiece! I found Patterson’s writing style to be extremely entrancing and I had a hard time putting this book down to go to sleep or go to work. In short: this was a great introduction to James Patterson’s works.

While I am not an overly religious person, the religious presence in this book was very intriguing to me. The plot line of the story can only be described as a rapid-fire and bizarre. I mean, how could a story about two pregnant virgins NOT be captivating?

With that being said, my one major critique of this book is the lack of character development. While I felt that Patterson did a great job of developing Anne’s character as well as Kathleen, I felt like I didn’t really get to know the other characters very well. I found this to be a bit confusing as I read through certain chapters because I would have to take a moment and pause to remember who a character was or what role they had in the story.

On the other hand, I really enjoyed how this novel has been updated from previous editions to include references to popular culture figures such as Adele as well as the characters’ use of Twitter. While I can’t compare this book to the previous editions of the story because this is the only version I have read, I still appreciated these updates and I think these small changes could actually attract the interest of a younger demographic of readers who might be put off by older literature. Sometimes it really is the small details that count!

Overall, I really enjoyed this book and the only disappointment came when I was forced to put it down. I would recommend this to anyone who has not yet delved into the wonderful world of James Patterson and I can’t wait to explore his other work! Definitely a must-read!

Ayla

Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest reader review. The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own. 

Bookworm Bloggin’: Cloudwish by Fiona Wood

cloudwish-us-fiona-woodSynopsis

For Vân Uoc Phan, fantasies fall into two categories: nourishing, or pointless. Daydreaming about Billy Gardiner, for example? Pointless. It always left her feeling sick, as though she’d eaten too much sugar.

Vân Uoc doesn’t believe in fairies, zombies, vampires, Father Christmas – or magic wishes. She believes in keeping a low profile: real life will start when school finishes.

But when she attracts the attention of Billy Gardiner, she finds herself in an unwelcome spotlight.

Not even Jane Eyre can help her now.

Wishes were not a thing.

They were not.

Correction.

Wishes were a thing.

Wishes that came true were sometimes a thing.

Wishes that came true because of magic were not a thing!

Were they?

Review

Cloudwish by Fiona Wood can best be described as a light young adult contemporary that almost anyone could relate to on some level. Admittedly, I was drawn in more by the cover of the book than the synopsis when I first came across this title. I know, I know: never judge a book by it’s cover! But in this case, I’m happy to report that it really paid off! I loved this book!

Amid the slew of young adult thriller and suspense novels that I’ve recently been reading, Cloudwish was a welcome change of pace. While I previously described the book as light YA fiction, this does not mean that Fiona Wood neglects depth in the story. On the contrary, Wood does an excellent job of drawing attention to important issues such as the struggles and oppression faced by refugees.  As the reader, I got to explore not only Vân Uoc’s struggles, but also learned about the heartbreaking past of her parents. While I have never personally experienced being a refugee, I know quite a few people who have and I felt as though the author did a wonderful job of staying true to the realities faced by refugee populations.

On a lighter (yet still relevant) note, Wood also delves into the idea of social hierarchies. As a scholarship student at a prestigious private school, Vân Uoc is the typical top-of-the-class student with good grades and a vision for her future. She knows her place in the social hierarchy of her school; yet, she can’t help but be attracted to Billy, the “alpha male” of the school. What happens next is both cliched and nonconformist: Billy starts to fall for Vân Uoc.

Personally, I had expected Cloudwish to be a predictable story about first-love and high school crushes. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the author has so much more to offer the reader. You will get your atypical love story fix with a nice side order of overcoming adversity and self-exploration.

While I would not describe Cloudwish as a page-turner (at least not in comparison to the YA thriller that I just read…) I still found it to be a captivating story. Cloudwish is the perfect leisurely book with a gentle pace that I found quite comforting during a stressful week. If you’re looking for a nice relaxing book that still deals with important topics, look no further than Cloudwish.

Ayla

Note: I received an advanced reader copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest reader review. The opinions expressed herein are entirely my own. 

Bookworm Bloggin’: Highly Illogical Behavior

26109391Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old Solomon is agoraphobic. He hasn’t left the house in three years, which is fine by him.
Ambitious Lisa desperately wants to get into the second-best psychology program for college (she’s being realistic). But is ambition alone enough to get her in?
Enter Lisa.
Determined to “fix” Sol, Lisa steps into his world, along with her charming boyfriend, Clark, and soon the three form an unexpected bond. But, as Lisa learns more about Sol and he and Clark grow closer and closer, the walls they’ve built around themselves start to collapse and their friendships threaten to do the same.

 

Review

I first came across Highly Illogical Behavior when I noticed it on a table at work for staff to read. Later on, I saw the book on one of our “books about mental health” feature tables and I decided to give it a shot. After reading the book over the course of two days, I can honestly say that this was one of the best decisions I have made this summer!

I absolutely adored this book! It is a strange mix of humor and serious suffering that managed to make me laugh one moment and then feel deep empathy for Sol’s experiences with agoraphobia the next. While I have not personally experienced agoraphobia, I have experienced panic disorder so I know first-hand just how debilitating panic attacks can be. So with that in mind, I think that it’s safe to say I know a thing or two about anxiety and panic attacks and in my opinion I believe that John Corey Whaley did an excellent job of accurately depicting the reality of agoraphobia and anxiety in general.

Additionally, I think this story has a lot to teach the reader about friendship and trust when it comes to developing relationships with individuals who experience mental illness. More specifically, I think Lisa and Clark’s willingness to make sacrifices and be patient with Soloman as he struggled to work through his illness is in direct opposition to the widespread stigmatization that we see in society. Therefore, I felt as though these characters served an important purpose in the book by demonstrating that people who are suffering from a mental illness can get better with the right support system and a tremendous amount of acceptance and compassion.

In short, I loved this book. I cannot praise this book enough and I will absolutely be recommending it to my friends as well as my customers at the bookstore. If you are looking for an entertaining book that also has a lot of deeper meaning then you should look no further than Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley. What a truly amazing book.

As always, thanks for stopping by!
Ayla

Bookworm Bloggin’: Frayed by Kara Terzis

29057066Synopsis

Dear Kesley,

My therapist tells me I should write you a letter. Like flushing all my thoughts and feelings out of my system and onto paper. I tell her it’s a stupid idea.

But here I am, writing a letter to a dead girl. Where do I start? Where did our story begin? From the moment you were born…or died?

I’ll start with the moment I found out the truth about you. Your lies and my pain. Because it always begins and ends with you.
And that end began when Rafe Lawrence came back to town…

Ava Hale will do anything to find her sister’s killer…although she’ll wish she hadn’t. Because the harder Ava looks, the more secrets she uncovers about Kesley, and the more she begins to think that the girl she called sister was a liar. A sneak. A stranger.

And Kesley’s murderer could be much closer than she thought…

A debut novel from Wattpad award-winner Kara Terzis, Frayed is a psychological whodunit that will keep you guessing!

Review

Last week I received a copy of FRAYED in the mail and I was beyond excited because I was not expecting to receive a physical copy of the book from the publisher. I had originally requested a copy of Kara Terzis’ debut novel because I was looking for a good young adult suspense-filled read to spice up my summer reading list. FRAYED certainly did not disappoint in this regard. Over the past few weeks I’ve been going through a bit of a reading slump and I really needed a good page-turner to get me back into my reading challenge. Thankfully, FRAYED contained just the right combination of teenage tragedy and suspenseful mystery to grab my attention and keep me interested right up until the last page.

Overall, I really enjoyed this novel. I found the author’s writing style to be engaging and suspenseful without losing the reader in unnecessary details. Terzis did an excellent job of laying down a trail of breadcrumbs that lead the reader to a total plot twist towards the end of the book. I definitely did not see that ending coming! In fact, I had this book pegged as one with a predictable ending because I was so sure that I knew who was responsible for Kesley’s death. Evidently, I could not have been more wrong. For this, I have to commend the author. It is not often that I find a good book that keeps me guessing right up until the very end!

With all of that being said, the one criticism that I have of this book is that an extremely important detail of the plot is based on the common misconception that mental illness leads to violence. While I appreciate the fact that the book was full of suspense, I’m hesitant to wholeheartedly support something which is in direct opposition to my passion for ending the stigmatization of mental illness. While depicting psychiatric illnesses in a criminalized way might make for a thrilling story, I think it’s important to recognize that it is completely fictionalized and not based on facts at all. As a mental health advocate and social work graduate student, I have done a tremendous amount of research regarding the damaging effect of such misrepresentation in media content. Therefore, while I appreciate the fact that the author did not likely intend to perpetuate stigma, I think it is imperative that we recognize the misrepresentation of mental illness in order to prevent the propagation of a misinformed society.

Despite this downfall, I appreciate the author’s attempt to emphasize the ability of sufferers to gain control over mental health conditions as demonstrated by Margo/Ava’s improvement in the final pages of the book. So while there were certainly aspects of the book that I didn’t completely agree with, I don’t think the book was entirely misguided or misinformed when it comes to recovering from mental illness.

I could easily see this book becoming extremely successful and I will certainly be keeping an eye out for future works by Kara Terzis. The author clearly has a talent for writing and an incredible knack for storytelling. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a young adult novel with a gripping story line. FRAYED would go great paired with a warm cup of coffee and a rainy day.

Let me know in the comments below if you have read or are planning to read FRAYED by Kara Terzis. I would love to hear your thoughts on the book!

Thanks for reading,

Ayla

Note: I received an advanced reading copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest reader review. The opinions expressed herein are my own.