Sunday, 26 April 2015

Reasons to Stay Alive by Matt Haig

This is the story of Matt Haig, when age 24 he suffered a mental breakdown. It is about his experience primarily with Depression and Anxiety. It is also about his experience of living and also his experience of wanting to die. It is moving, it is funny but most of all it is actually live - affirming. I hope that it has and continues to achieve what he hoped it would.

It was with some trepidation that I purchased this book, because yes I wanted to read it. But it was more important than that. I needed to read it. In the back of my mind was a doubt though, surely this will be another one of those books that scratches the surface or doesn't explain things correctly. One of those books full of medical jargon and little to no empathy about the illness and only a minor touch of compassion.

One day I will learn to stop being so cynical, from the moment I opened this book I knew it would be everything I hoped it would be. What it lacks in size it certainly makes up for in stature. There are very few books that I would actually say are essential but this is one of them. I know it sounds like I am gushing, but really it is true. What I like so much is that it is real, not sugar coated. It is about real illness, real experience and real feelings. 

Most interesting for me is the part about mindfulness, depression is just one small part of you. It isn't you or me, it is an illness like any other.

I haven't had depression nor anxiety. Although we all get sad and anxious at times, it is not the same as out and out medical depression and/or anxiety. My experience with depression comes from the fact that my Partner has it, it isn't easy and I have found very little literature that can help with the understanding for sufferers. Whilst I appreciate that depression isn't catching, it has sometimes felt like I am being consumed too. All of the doubts and thoughts that depression can bring are exhausting for the person but also for the loved ones standing by, who feel helpless.

From personal experience the main way we have tackled this is through talking, cognitive behaviour therapy (minor success) and essentially more talking. Reassurance, understanding and love can make a day a bit better. Although depression seems to be cyclical from what I have found. There are good days and bad days but what I have learnt is that the wave just needs to be rode out.
“I am, by calling, a dealer in words; and words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind.”- Rudyard Kipling.

I really hope that the stigma surrounding mental health changes, i think it is bit by bit. That is why people like Matt Haig and others who speak up and speak out are so important. It can only serve to educate others. Words are so important, that is why I love that Rudyard Kipling quote so much. Words; speaking, listening, reading, writing are quite possibly our most powerful tool.

You might be forgiven that given the subject matter this book is not very positive, but it exudes positivity. We could all learn something from Matt Haig's Forty pieces of advice to live by. A tear was shed by me when I actually for the first time ever, really got 'it'.

Anyway that is it from me, go outside and stand in the sunshine. Listen to the rain. Most of all appreciate the moment you are in right now. For good or for bad that moment will never come again. Life is beautiful and you and I, us, we, are only here once. 

 “Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind.”- Henry James

That is my Reason to Stay Alive.

About the Author:

Matt Haig is the Author of several best selling books that have translated into 29 languages. He was born in Sheffield and now lives in York with his Wife and Children., also on Twitter @matthaig1

Sunday, 19 April 2015

How I Lost You by Jenny Blackhurst

This book is published in Paperback on 23rd April 2015 by Headline. My thanks to them and Bookbridgr who sent me my copy for review.

I have no memory of what happened but I was told I killed my son. And you believe what your loved ones, your doctor and the police tell you, don't you?

My name is Emma Cartwright. Three years ago I was Susan Webster, and I murdered my twelve-week-old son Dylan. I was sent to Oakdale Psychiatric Institute for my crime, and four weeks ago I was released early on parole with a new identity, address and a chance to rebuild my tattered life.

This morning, I received an envelope addressed to Susan Webster. Inside it was a photograph of a toddler called Dylan. Now I am questioning everything I believe because if I have no memory of the event, how can I truly believe he's dead? 

If there was the smallest chance your son was alive, what would you do to get him back?

My Thoughts:

It was a rare treat yesterday when this book arrived, I was pulled in instantly by the proof copy that I was kindly sent with the photograph on the front. I sat down to read the first couple of chapters as I was so intrigued. I finished it in one sitting....

I am finding it hard to believe that this is the authors debut novel. I found it to be shocking, believable and for that reason very scary. Could the events enclosed really happen in 'real' life? I still am not sure but it is one hell of a page turner.

Susan Webster is now Emma Cartwright after changing her name and moving to a new home. She has just been released from a Psychiatric Institute for smothering her baby. She receives a photograph through the door not post marked. Somebody knows who and where she is. The photo purports to be that of her son Dylan now at four years old. Could he still be alive? How can he be because Susan killed him. Everybody told her so, although she can't remember the event. Perhaps her mind blocked out her terrible crime, she wishes she could remember, so she can get to the truth.

That is as far as I am going into the plot, any more would ruin this extraordinary tale for others. The twists and turns are scary and unexpected. Some more believable than others. I thought I had it all sussed out but I was so very wrong. The pace of this book is hurtling in the search for truth and justice. It is about who can be trusted and who can't and what lengths people will go to, to preserve themselves.

An exceptional Psychological Crime Thriller of a very high standard indeed. It kept me up late and disturbed my sleep but it was all worth it. Another bright light of a debut author, who I will be watching our for in future.

About the Author:

Jenny Blackhurst lives in Shropshire where this book is primarily set. She lives with her husband and children. How I Lost You was written inspired by her own feelings on the birth of her son. She can be found on Twitter @JennyBlackhurst.

Friday, 10 April 2015

BLOG TOUR: Close To Home by Lisa Jackson

My thanks to Hodder & Stoughton and Bookbrigr for my copy of the book and to Becca Mundy for inviting me on the blog tour. This book was released in Paperback on 26th March 2015.


The house where Sarah McAdams grew up has always terrified her. But now she's moved back with her daughters, determined to put her childhood fears behind her.

It's harder than she thought. Increasingly haunted by the past, Sarah soon realises that the present has its own threats. One by one, teenage girls are disappearing...

Frantic for her daughters' safety, Sarah feels the house's walls closing in on her once more. Somewhere deep in her memory is the key to a very real danger.

And only by confronting the terrifying truth can she protect her children from a nightmare that is roaring back to life...

My Thoughts:

This is the first book that I have read by Lisa Jackson. It tells the story of Sarah and her daughters who move to the dilapidated family home with dreams of renovation and restoring the house to its former state. 

What ensues is a suspenseful mystery that has spanned decades and centuries. At times ghostly and at other times just downright scary.

At the same time, there are teenage girls going missing. Could the strange house and the missing girls be linked?

All in all, I did enjoy this book and I would read more from this author. It had enough mystery and suspense to keep me guessing as to who had done what. It just didn't have enough to keep me on the edge of the seat screaming wow at the end. I didn't have that roller coaster feeling, I have come to expect from this genre of book. I had guessed a lot of the ending and was just waiting for it to play out.

I did however like the flawed characters, I really do prefer Characters in books that I don't like.  The best 'character' in my opinion is the house. Blue Peacock Manor is certainly a house to be reckoned with.

This is a skilled Author who can certainly craft a mystery story and be able to tie all the loose ends together. Recommended if you like Crime, Mystery or Suspense stories.

I will certainly will be looking out for more by Lisa Jackson.

About the Author:
Lisa Jackson is a bestselling author of more than seventy-five novels. She has over twenty million copies of her books in print in nineteen languages. She lives with her family an dog in America. You can see her website here, she is also on Facebook and Twitter. You can see her blog here: