Category Archives: Psychology (fiction)

The Shock of the Fall- Nathan Filer


Note: This book is sold as ‘Where the Moon Isn’t’ in the US

Synopsis (from amazon)

‘I’ll tell you what happened because it will be a good way to introduce my brother. His name’s Simon. I think you’re going to like him. I really do. But in a couple of pages he’ll be dead. And he was never the same after that.’

 

Review

Two things before I start:

1) I wrote a copy of this post I was really happy with, then it got eaten by wordpress :(

2) After writing my first version of this review I read Ellie’s review. Ellie suggested that to reveal what Matt’s illness was would be a bit of a spoiler, because it would give you pre-conceived ideas of what Matt was like. When I thought about it I could see where she was coming from, but my review was too much based on his condition to avoid mentioning what it was. Therefore I have blanked out everytime I have written the name of Matt’s condition, and put brackets around it. If you want to know what the illness is just highlight between the brackets. The review should still make sense missing this word out.

Okay, on to the review.

You can tell that The Shock of The Fall is written by someone with experience of mental health, the voice of Matt sounds very authentic. His mental health condition seems realistic too, it is not unknown for a serious emotional event (such as the death of a brother) to trigger (schizophrenia), and it is often part of what will make up the (schizophrenic) episodes too. What makes it even more authentic is that it is narrated by Matt himself. It’s not like seeing a (schizophrenic) episode, where it can be quite obvious that the person is unwell. You can rarely be 100% sure if what Matt is experiencing is ‘real’ or part of his illness.

Matt’s family are obviously important to him. They are like his rock. The way he talks about his Nan, and , most notably, Simon shows how much he loves them. They are both easily the most likeable characters. Matt himself? Maybe not likeable, but that works. If he was more likeable it would make the story less realistic, because of the ways he sees himself.

I do wonder a bit if Filer is having a bit of a bash at the government for it’s cuts to the NHS. An important thing which happens in the book is caused by budget cuts, and is one of the things which gets cut in reality too. On the day I originally wrote this review there had been a piece on radio 4 about how the waiting times for talking therapies are effecting patients. According to a study by We Need to Talk 1 in 6 patients awaiting treatment attempt suicide. To have to wait at all is pretty bad, but it really shouldn’t get to this state. For someone with mental health difficulties to ask for help is often the first step towards getting better. It’s like taking one step on a stair and finding a wall in the way, isn’t the easiest option to step back?

Sorry this has turned into somewhat of a political rant.

The Shock of the Fall was the winner of the Costa Prize. It’s what prompted me to look at it, but it still is the sort of thing that I would have wanted to read. Was it worth the prize? Maybe. I’m not sure I would say it has literary greatness (whatever that is…). It’s too…conversational, but actually in terms of readability and reader connection that makes a good book, for me at least.

In the US The Shock of the Fall is renamed to Where the Moon isn’t. Why? I don’t know (maybe I could find out). I’m not sure I like it though. The Shock of the Fall seems like a strange name to start off with. However when you finish it seems like a pretty perfect name. I won’t say why, spoilers. Where the Moon Isn’t sort of fits though. You know what they say about the moon and mental illness.

4/5

Buy it:

From an indie store (via Hive):

Paperback (£6.97)

E-book (£3.99)

Buy from amazon:

Kindle (£2.99)

Paperback (£3.85)- Part of the 3 for £10 promotion

Hardback (£14.94)- As ‘Where The Moon Isn’t’

Other reviews:

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Thought Scratchings

3 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Psychology (fiction)

Before I Go to Sleep- S J Watson



Synopsis (from amazon)

Memories define us.

So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?

Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight.

And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.

Welcome to Christine’s life.

Review

A couple of years ago everybody was raving about Before I Go To Sleep. I didn’t read it then, partly because I’m not the biggest fan of crime fiction, partly because of my ever expanding to be read pile, and partly because the last raved about crime novel I remembered reading was The Da Vinci Code- which I have no desire to re-read. My Mum had read it, and my boyfriend and a handful of people from BCF had been very positive about it.

However it wasn’t the positive reviews which made me interested so much as the slight psychological plotline- that of Christine having basically no memory. Either way I was interested enough to go out and buy myself a copy, but when my Mum was sorting out books to get rid of (we have nine bookcases in our 3-up 3-down house, so need all the space we can get!) she put Before I Go To Sleep in the pile, and I moved it to my shelves (along with The Tiger’s Wife and Her Fearful Symmetry). When I actually got around to reading it I was in the mood for something which would be a quick, easy, but (hopefully) gripping read. I read crime the way other people read chick-lit, it’s more of a relaxed easy read (generally, there is some really good crime out there that you really can’t figure out, and that is more taxing). My Mum’s reaction to it more than anything showed me that Before I Go To Sleep would be what I was looking for.

It was that as well. Gripping enough whilst it lasted, but it didn’t really leave any lingering feelings. I guessed the twist quite early on, which meant that anything else was mainly just confirming my theory, although there were enough little twists on the way to make me want to keep reading for the story itself.

I had a bit of a love hate relationship with Christine. She was just too trusting! I understand that you have to trust someone in that situation, but it wasn’t even that she trusted people she met, she tried to force herself to feel things which she thought she should feel for them, I don’t really understand that.

The story was pretty unique. Which probably puts it above other crime novels of a similar quality. However it was just of standard quality. If you’re a fan of crime novels  then you may like this one, but I wouldn’t expect it to live up to hype.

Before I Go To Sleep is meant to be coming out as a film later this year. Nicole Kidman is playing Christine, which must mean they have made her younger. She’s not right for the part at all.

3.5/5

Buy it:

Paperback (£3.89)

Kindle (£2.99)

Other Reviews:

Leeswammes’ Blog

Girl Vs Bookshelf

Heavenali

So Many Books, So Little Time

Curiosity Killed the Bookworm

Giraffe Days

Wensend

Piling on the Books

Nose in a Book

Literary Lindsey

Knitting and Sundries

Have I missed your review? Leave me a link in comments and I will add it here.

4 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Crime, Fiction review, Mystery, Psychology (fiction)

The Sleep Room- F.R. Tallis



Disclaimer: I was given this book free of charge by the publisher (via netgally) in exchange for an honest review

Synopsis (from amazon)

As haunting as Susan Hill’s The Woman in Black and as dark as James Herbert’s The Secret of Crickley Hall, F. R. Tallis’s The Sleep Room is where your nightmares begin . . . When promising psychiatrist, James Richardson, is offered the job opportunity of a lifetime, he is thrilled. Setting off to take up his post at Wyldehope Hall in deepest Suffolk, Richardson doesn’t look back. One of his tasks is to manage a controversial project – a pioneering therapy in which extremely disturbed patients are kept asleep for months. As Richardson settles into his new life, he begins to sense something uncanny about the sleeping patients – six women, forsaken by society. Why is the trainee nurse so on edge when she spends nights alone with them? And what can it mean when all the sleepers start dreaming at the same time? It’s not long before Richardson finds himself questioning everything he knows about the human mind as he attempts to uncover the shocking secrets of The Sleep Room . .

UK cover


Review.

When looking up this book on amazon I became glad that it had been the American publisher offering it on netgally because the UK cover is awful. Looks like some sort of 80s horror novel. If that had been the cover I wouldn’t have even looked at it, let alone request it.

I suppose that goes to show, you can’t always judge a book by its cover (although I can’t say I’ll stop- it’s usually a good indication of the type of book). You see, actually, I quite enjoyed The Sleep Room.

Right from the beginning I could see the gothic elements which reminded me a lot of Jane Eyre in particular. In fact to be honest at times it felt a little bit too like Jane Eyre- almost as if scene ideas had been picked out of the story.

Part of the reason I wanted to read The Sleep Room was the gothic element, but I was also interested in the psychological background.

Those were as it turned out the most interesting bits for me, the psychology section. I would have liked more of it actually, and I felt that Tallis didn’t feel that he had enough psychological knowledge to write a book based in a psychiatric hospital. I could kind of see tricks which meant Tallis didn’t have to show too much psychological knowledge. I’m a psychology graduate so I can’t help but be a bit critical of psychology elements in stories.

The overall thing I enjoyed rather a lot though, and the ending really made it.

4/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£1.85)

Paperback (£1.95)

Other reviews:

If you have reviewed this book leave me a link in comments and I will add it here.

3 Comments

Filed under Fiction review, Mystery, Paranormal, Psychology (fiction)

Mother, Mother- Koren Zailckas


Mother Mother, Koren Zailckas, book
Disclaimer: I was sent this book free of charge (by the publisher) in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from Goodreads)

Josephine Hurst has her family under control. With two beautiful daughters, a brilliantly intelligent son, a tech-guru of a husband and a historical landmark home, her life is picture perfect. She has everything she wants; all she has to do is keep it that way. But living in this matriarch’s determinedly cheerful, yet subtly controlling domain hasn’t been easy for her family, and when her oldest daughter, Rose, runs off with a mysterious boyfriend, Josephine tightens her grip, gradually turning her flawless home into a darker sort of prison.

Resentful of her sister’s newfound freedom, Violet turns to eastern philosophy, hallucinogenic drugs, and extreme fasting, eventually landing herself in the psych ward. Meanwhile, her brother Will shrinks further into a world of self-doubt. Recently diagnosed with Aspergers and epilepsy, he’s separated from the other kids around town and is homeschooled to ensure his safety. Their father, Douglas, finds resolve in the bottom of the bottle—an addict craving his own chance to escape. Josephine struggles to maintain the family’s impeccable façade, but when a violent incident leads to a visit from child protective services, the truth about the Hursts might finally be revealed.

Review

Mother, Mother is an emotionally difficult book to read, I spent probably about 90% of the book raging at Josephine, and probably the rest of the time feeling sympathy for her family.

There was something about it though. It was completely absorbing. Even when I wasn’t reading it I was often thinking about it. Trying to puzzle out what made Josephine the way she was. Hoping that something made her stop.

It was very easy to feel sympathy towards Violet. She was obviously suffering under her mother regime, but actually I felt more for Will. Will was so completely sucked in by his mother that I could see it having the worst long term effect on him. Because he wasn’t really aware of the effect his mother was having on him he never saw it as wrong, and following what he thought his mother would do would not sit well with his space in the world.

The chapters were split between Violet’s voice and Will’s. You needed them both to really see what Josephine could be capable of.

One thing I would have liked was a bit more insight into Josephine. Why she did what she did, and if she had any rational behind her actions which may have meant she thought she was acting for the best.

4.5/5

This book is not released in the UK until January next year, but you can buy it in the US or pre-order it:

Hardback (£11.55)

Kindle (£10.97)

Paperback- released March 2014 (£6.58)

Other reviews:

If you have reviewed this book leave me a link in comments and I will add it here

2 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Psychology (fiction)

All She Ever Wanted- Rosalind Noonan


Disclaimer: I was sent this book by the publishers, via netgalley, free of charge in exchange for an honest review.

Synopsis (from amazon)

For years, Chelsea Maynard has longed to be a mother. She’s imagined caring for a new baby in the lovely house she shares with her husband, Leo, fondly planning every detail. But after a difficult birth, those dreams of blissful bonding evaporate. Chelsea battles sleep deprivation and feelings of isolation. Little Annabelle cries constantly, and Chelsea has dark visions fuelled by exhaustion and self-doubt. Her sister, Emma, insists she gets help for postpartum depression, but Chelsea’s doctor dismisses her worries as self-indulgent. Doubting her ability to parent – even doubting her own sanity – Chelsea is close to collapse. Then an unthinkable crisis hits.

Review

This book reminded me strangely of Beneath The Shadows it shouldn’t have really. There’s a similarity in plot, in that in both stories focus around a person going missing, and both include a baby. However that is where the similarity ends. There were some similarities in writing style, but not enough to really explain why I kept thinking of Beneath the Shadows whilst reading All She Ever Wanted.

I expected a little more soul searching and a little less blaming anyone but herself. From the synopsis given on netgalley I had imagined Chelsea being frantic that she may have done something to her baby, but whilst that element did come into it she seemed more to want to find someone else to blame than to try and find something inside herself. This made it a bit more of a mystery novel than I had expected.

Having said that it was more than your stereotypical mystery. There were the usual twists and turns, and maybe just a few to many suspects, and I wasn’t able to guess what had happened. However there was a deeper emotional aspect than you would get from most mysteries.

The postnatal depression sections were done well too. You could really see how Charlotte felt. Most people know a little about postnatal depression but this really got through what it’s like in reality.

4/5

All She Ever Wanted is out on Kindle now and is released as a paperback in February, but you can pre-order it now

Buy it:

Kindle (£6.68)
Paperback (£9.89)

Leave a comment

Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Mystery, Psychology (fiction)

Mockingbird- Kathryn Erskine


Image from Amazon

Synopsis (from Amazon)

11-year-old Caitlin has Asperger’s syndrome, and has always had her older brother, Devon, to explain the confusing things around her. But when Devon is killed in a tragic school shooting, Caitlin has to try and make sense of the world without him. With her dad spending most of his time crying in the shower, and her life at school becoming increasingly difficult, it doesn’t seem like things will ever get better again.

Review

I read a really nice review of this book last year and added it to my wishlist. By the time I actually got around to buying it I had kind of forgotten why I had put it on my list. I remembered that I had read a review but didn’t really remember much about what the review had said, or even what the book was about. I mainly bought it because I wanted to add new books to my Kindle before I went o holiday and it was quite a lot cheaper on Kindle than as a paper book (I really have a thing about Kindle books having to be cheaper).

I was a little unsure about having Asperger’s and a school shooting in the same book. It just seemed as if Erskine needed to add an extra issue to make her story a book. Actually though on reading the book I didn’t find it to be so. It was really interesting to see the shooting through Caitlin’s eyes. No, that’s not true really because the shooting didn’t so much come into it. It was more seeing the loss caused by the shooting and the effects of it on other people through Caitlin’s eyes was the interesting thing. It didn’t really matter much what the sad event was, it was the response to it that really mattered.

I thought the way Caitlin’s voice was captured was really authentic, you could tell that Erskine was drawing from personal experience.

It was funny, and sad, and sweet. I loved Caitlin.

It’s a quick and easy read without loosing any substance and I would really recommend it to anyone.

5/5

Buy it:

Kindle (£2.62)

Paperback (£4.12)

 

8 Comments

Filed under Fiction review, Psychology (fiction), YA

The Bell Jar- Sylvia Plath


Synopsis (from Amazon)

Esther Greenwood is at college and is fighting two battles, one against her own desire for perfection in all things – grades, boyfriend, looks, career – and the other against remorseless mental illness. As her depression deepens she finds herself encased in it, bell-jarred away from the rest of the world. This is the story of her journey back into reality. Highly readable, witty and disturbing, The Bell Jar is Sylvia Plath’s only novel and was originally published under a pseudonym in 1963. What it has to say about what women expect of themselves, and what society expects of women, is as sharply relevant today as it has always been.

Review.

This book was really beautifully written, almost poetic. I felt I could really see into Esther’s mind, or almost like I was her. It was really clever in that I didn’t really feel sympathetic for her because she was so matter of fact about it, it was like I didn’t feel I should give her sympathy [highlight for spoiler]I almost even wanted her to succeed in her suicide attempts because she seemed to want it so much, but I wanted her to get ‘better’ more. I found some parts fascinating [highlight for spoiler]especially the bits with the ECT but they were also quite hard to read. I liked how the story was open ended and that the reader could almost pick what happened in the end.

4.5/5

4 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Psychology (fiction)

The Secret Scripture- Sebastian Barry


The Secret Scripture

Image via Wikipedia

Synopsis (from Amazon)

Nearing her one-hundredth birthday, Roseanne McNulty faces an uncertain future, as the Roscommon Regional Mental hospital where she’s spent the best part of her adult life prepares for closure. Over the weeks leading up to this upheaval, she talks often with her psychiatrist Dr. Grene, and their relationship intensifies and complicates. Told through their respective journals, the story that emerges is at once shocking and deeply beautiful. Refracted through the haze of memory and retelling, Roseanne’s story becomes an alternative, secret history of Ireland’s changing character and the story of a life blighted by terrible mistreatment and ignorance, and yet marked still by love and passion and hope.

Review

I seem to find books I struggle with become more rewarding, and this was the case with this one. I found it difficult to get into, almost giving up at one point. But something kept me going and by halfway I was hooked. I know little about the history of Ireland and I found this and interesting way to find out. I began to really feel for the characters, I think I liked Dr. Grene the best, but can’t really say why, I think maybe he just he seemed the most real. And I wanted to punch the priest so many times (is that a bad thing to say?!) (highlight for spoiler) he really seemed to have it in for Roseanne, and for no real reason, and he seemed to have a part to play in everything that went wrong for her. Generally though the thing that disappointed me was that I worked out the twist (which comes towards the end) really early on, possibly that was because of the synopsis on the back of the book, I would recommend not reading that bit

4/5

8 Comments

Filed under Contempory, Fiction review, Historical, Psychology (fiction)