Six Months Later

 by Natalie D Richards

Six Months Later

Forgetting changed her Remembering might destroy her

I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed the majority of this book. I normally am not one for mysteries, but the premise of Six Months Later excited me; falling asleep and waking up six months later, seemingly a different person. It was something new and different, with a great plot premise, and I was excited to start it.

As someone who has suffered memory loss, I was intrigued by how the main character, Chloe was going to respond to her missing months. And I wasn’t disappointed. I can understand how she may be difficult to relate to, since the book begins right before she loses her memory, but as someone who has had experience with this, her confusion and terror was pleasantly real.

The brief look that we have of Chloe’s life pre memory loss does a nice job of giving us an understanding of how she feels about herself and those around her before her major personality switch. It also introduces us to characters who would later play a large apart of our story.

There are slight logic holes in Six Months Later, however, for the most part, they are easy to over look once you become involved in the story.

One of the things that I really enjoyed about the movement through the book and the character development was that even though Chloe couldn’t remember the last six months her body did. And she listened to it. She may not have understood why she felt uncomfortable around people she should have felt safe with, and why she felt safe with people she thought she didn’t, and never would, have any sort of connection with. But she listened to that. She may not have remembered but her subconscious did. And listening to that voice is one of the only reasons she managed to get to the bottom of her own little mystery.

The only part of Six Months Later that I felt jarred by was the ending. You get to a point where you see it coming, but you hope that either you’re wrong, or they’re going to unmask it in some new or creative way. While you get your resolution, and Chloe seems satisfied with it, for the most part at least, it left me wishing there was something else, something more.

Over all though, I’d recommend this book, and will more than likely end up rereading it some day.

I’d give it a 4 out of 5 stars

Get Well Soon

By Julie Halpern

Get Well Soon

Who said depression has to be depressing?

Get Well Soon is actually something I decided to reread the other day. It was a book that I read in middle or high school and for the life of me I couldn’t remember anything about it other than it was about a mental hospital. I am so glad I picked this book up again.

Get Well Soon is not a particularly difficult read, I finished it in just a few days. But don’t let it’s YA classification, or its tagline “Who said depression has to be depressing?” fool you. This book touches on many complex subjects – from depression to abortion, faked pregnancies to desperation – and openly talks about subjects that many teens and young adults would like to discuss but may be afraid or self conscious to bring up to parents or other adults.

The book begins as Anna, the main character, is being admitted to Lakeland (or Lake Shit), a mental hospital that her parents check her into after she stops going to school because of panic attacks. Anna’s therapist tells her she’s depressed, but she doesn’t feel depressed. She points out that it’s not like she wants to kill herself, she just wouldn’t mind it if she just suddenly, painlessly, stopped being alive.

The novel is told as letters Anna writes to her best friend Tracy. Even though she never sends the letters while at Lake Shit, Anna writes several times every day. She writes about all of the ridiculous rules, including the no touching rule which really seems to eat at a lot of the teens, especially Matt O. who has been in the hospital for 6 months upon Anna’s arrival.

Anna uses her letters to work her way through her own emotions, in a way, they are the best therapy she’s getting while there. She writes about how betrayed she feels by her parents who dumped her off on the hospital when the therapist didn’t work. She also expresses just how scared she is to go back out into the real world once she acclimated to her new ‘home.’ As she slowly starts to see improvements, she becomes terrified that once she get’s home, has to reface all of her fears and the things that triggered her in the real world, she’ll end up right back where she started.

I spent time in an inpatient mental health facility similar to Anna’s and her fears, her reactions, were very similar to my own, which made it easy to connect to this high school girl.

While at Lake Shit, Anna finds herself making more, and better, friends than she had out in the ‘real world.’ She even finds a boy who she has more than she ever thought possible in common with and develops feelings for. She makes fun of this in her letters to Tracy, feeling like only her would have to be checked into a mental hospital to find ‘love.’ Or even people she felt like she could connect with.

In fact, this seems to be the only thing she thinks is different from her normal life. Yes, she acknowledges that the panic attacks have seemed to have stopped, but she doesn’t think that she’s growing, that she’s becoming more confident or healthier. Which is why the news of her discharge surprises, and greatly upsets her.

However, in her last days, as she’s preparing to leave, she may just discover that more things than she had thought had begun to change.

I’d easily give it 3.5/4 out of five stars.

And while doing research for this review I found out there is a sequel! Have a Nice Day. So while you all who are dying to read all of the books I review (hey, a girl can dream right?) look for these two, I’m going to go read the next book, which apparently picks up right where this one ended.

Toodles my lovelies <3

Tease

So I know I haven’t posted in ages and ages. But I read a book a few days ago that I just can’t stop thinking about. And while I’m going to make you suffer through an update on my life, first you have to hear all about this new book. Tease, by Amanda Maciel.

Tease

 

GoodReads Summary:

From debut author Amanda Maciel comes a provocative and unforgettable novel, inspired by real-life incidents, about a teenage girl who faces criminal charges for bullying after a classmate commits suicide.

Emma Putnam is dead, and it’s all Sara Wharton’s fault. At least, that’s what everyone seems to think. Sara, along with her best friend and three other classmates, has been criminally charged for the bullying and harassment that led to Emma’s shocking suicide. Now Sara is the one who’s ostracized, already guilty according to her peers, the community, and the media. In the summer before her senior year, in between meetings with lawyers and a court-recommended therapist, Sara is forced to reflect on the events that brought her to this moment—and ultimately consider her own role in an undeniable tragedy. And she’ll have to find a way to move forward, even when it feels like her own life is over.

With its powerful narrative, unconventional point of view, and strong anti-bullying theme, this coming-of-age story offers smart, insightful, and nuanced views on high school society, toxic friendships, and family relationships.

 

My thoughts:

When I started Tease I didn’t expect to like it at all. In fact, the only reason I picked it up at Barnes and Noble was because Ellen Hopkins called it a “daring debut novel,” and that interested me. I started reading this one before clocking in at work one day and found myself thinking about it throughout my entire shift, reading on my breaks and finishing close to 150 pages before I made it home. I finished Tease the next day, but still haven’t been able to stop thinking about Sara and Carmichael, Emma and even Brielle. I highly recommend this book, especially to those who made it though high school without a scratch, to all of those who claim they were never personally bullied.

~Rest of review may contain spoilers~

I was bullied in high school, and honestly, I never thought about what it was like for those who hissed the nasty names at me in the hallway, or what their relationship with their own friends was like. When I first opened Tease, I knew I was going to hate Sara, knowing from the dust jacket that she bullied a girl until she committed suicide. I could have been Emma on so many occasions that I couldn’t fathom ever feeling sorry for Sara. But in the end, Sara wound up on the list of some of my favorite, multi-sided and well developed characters. No, she’s not a great person, or at least wasn’t during her junior year, but at the same time, she isn’t inherently evil. All Sara seems to want is to feel like her best friend actually likes her, and for the new girl, promptly deemed a slut, to leave her (not-so-great) boyfriend alone.

Some of the things Sara and Brielle do to Emma, and even some of the things Brielle says to Sara, her so-called best friend, makes me feel sick, and I was more than thankful that some of these things were never aimed in my direction at school. But I can’t bring myself to really blame Sara for the bulk of their bullying. And while I don’t feel like I can make excuses for her, she said plenty of mean things on her own, unprompted by Brielle, but at the same time, a lot of the things she did, she did so that Brielle wouldn’t turn her cruelty on her. Not that this ever helped Emma, who we only meet in flashback.

That’s the part of Sara that I really feel like I can connect to. She loves her best friend, would do anything for her, but their relationship is far from healthy. Brielle is enchanting. She’s that ‘poor little rich girl’ that seems to have it all; she shines, she draws people to her and has a way of talking that always seems to make adults believe her, or intimidates them with her rich father and lawyer mother. There is also no neutral zone with Brie, she either hates you or loves you, you’re either her friend or her enemy. And while Sara is terrified to find herself on Brielle’s enemy list, she also feels like Brie is the only person who understands her, she protects her, and no one wants to lose that kind of friendship.

It isn’t until months of reflection, and lawyer suggested therapy, that Sara begins to understand that not only was she a bully, but that she had also been bullied. This novel offers a whole new look at bullying and how it’s being handled not only by the adults, but also how real teenagers think and react to different levels of bullying – and just how far people will go to feel included, or to make someone feel like they don’t belong.

 

It wasn’t until after I read and wrote my own GoodReads review, that I looked at some of the others. And I’m not going to lie, a lot of the one and two star reviews really piss me off. And it’s not because they’re criticizing the actual story because that’s not what they’re doing. One reviewer said that any book who uses phrases like ‘fat beyotch,” is one that she isn’t going to waste her time on. I’m sorry, but that’s how teenagers the age of these main characters talk. In this particular example, the girls created a fake facebook profile for Emma with Fat Beyotch as the name. Teenage girls do these things, if you don’t like that type of language and how these girls talk, don’t read a book with teenaged main characters.

Along those same lines, another reviewer said that the entire book was essentially slut shaming. Um, you read the blurb on the back cover right? The whole book is about one of the girls on trial for bullying after a girl kills herself. The whole reason they hate her is because she’s new, and seems to find her tongue in almost every guy they knows mouth – including Sara’s boyfriend. Does that make their bullying right? No. But the whole point of the book was to watch Sara reflect and to find out whether or not she’s ever going to accept some of the responsibility for Emma’s death. Obviously they were awful to her, what did you expect?

Anyway, that’s the end of my rambling for the moment. But seriously, go read this book. And when you get back, expect an update about my oh so interesting life. Haha.

So, it’s not entirely my fault that I’ve not updated lately. Did you know they don’t give you computer access in the loony bin?

Okay, so maybe my jokes really aren’t that funny.

Normally I would feel weird even talking about all of this and would never even think about making something as public as a blog post about it, but I’ve decided that I’m going to stop trying to hide that part of me, and so far it’s making this thing called ‘recovery’ a little easier.

On Saturday January 25th, I overdosed on my antidepressants and anxiety meds. I don’t remember the majority of that weekend, but I remember taking the pills. I remember wanting to fall asleep and not wake up.

I don’t remember what  finally pushed me over the edge; after all, I’d been depressed for years and suicidal for months at that point. I don’t remember what turned all the thoughts, the plans, into reality, I just wanted it to work. It didn’t though, and for that I’m grateful.

My soon-to-be ex-husband found me at noon, Sunday the 26th. When he had trouble waking me up, I couldn’t remember what was said two minutes previously and he found the empty pill bottles, phone calls to my mother and an ambulance were made.

Long story short, I spent three weeks in the hospital. I had daily conversations with a psychiatrist, slept a lot, got my meds straightened out, and developed an almost unhealthy obsession with graham crackers.  I felt almost as if time had paused. After all, I couldn’t be in the looney bin, right? I wasn’t really crazy.

I watched two roommates get ‘better’ and get released, but they still wouldn’t let me go.

I was in the hospital for three weeks. I was finally released on February 10th.

I have been living with my best friend since my hospital release. Sometimes I think a lot about my stay in the hospital, how it was similar and different to all the different books I had read. How even though I try to pretend that I’m okay, this was something I needed more than I had realized.

Now that I’m back in the real world, I go about my daily routine. I go to work, I come home, I read and watch insane movies with my friends. I’m a normal 20 year old.

But all of my friends know what happened. They see me as fragile, and even though I hate to think of myself as such, I can’t help but be thankful that they’re looking out for me like that. We’ll be watching a movie that someone has already seen and they’ll say “You probably shouldn’t watch this part,” or “Are you sure you’re up for straight up horror?” They’re taking care of me in the best way they know how, even with causal inquiries about whether or not I’ve taken my medicine. While sometimes it seems a little overly mothery, I know they’re doing the best they can and I appreciate every one of them for it.Hospital bracelet removal

That first night that I came home, my best friend and I had a ceremonious removal of the hospital bracelet and that night I made a silent vow to not hide my problems and instead be honest about who I am and what is going on with me. That is the only way I’m going to get any better.

My job also keeps me sane. My coworkers are the best I could possibly ask for. They’re a little crazy, but it’s the perfect kind of chaos and friendly teasing. Going to work has definitely added a sense of normality back into my life that has probably done wonders to my recovery.

I still have my days where I’m overly sad. I still have those times where all I want to do is lay in bed, but I know that while I can let myself give into those urges for a little while, I can’t let them control my life anymore.

So I sit here, 18 days later, as my follow up appointment approaches and I can’t help but reflect a little.

So I’m sorry if this post is a little rambly. I didn’t really plan it out before I started so thank you for bearing with me through all of this. I promise, my next post will be a little more put together.

On that note, I hope you all have a wonderful kick off to your weekend. I have what looks like a terribly awful horror movie and some coffee waiting for me. Cheers!

I found out yesterday that the little old man that lived in the apartment across from us died. He was always really sweet to us, and had an adorable little dog, I think she was a corgi. A couple times a year he would insist on shaving her, which looked ridiculous because except for her fuzzy little head and her tail, she would be completely bald.

Anyway, I knew he was old, and sick, he had spent a stint in the hospital at the beginning of the year, but I had never thought about anything happening to him, but I still did everything I could think of. For Christmas he got homemade fudge and every couple of days we would take his trash out for him so he wouldn’t have to be out in the cold.

I knew that in the middle of last week he went back to the hospital. I had been reading in bed when I saw the flashing lights outside. I didn’t see him again, but every couple of days on my way home I would look to see if there were paw prints in the snow from Roxi, or if his lights were on. Then yesterday morning I woke up to a loud knocking on the apartment door.

It was his sister. She wanted to let us know that he had passed. They were starting to clean out his apartment and she remembered how he had mentioned us several times, that he always had something nice to say. She thought we deserved to know.

After I talked to her I went back to bed, and curled up in a ball, trying to ignore the pressure in my chest. I spend hours trying not to think about the fact that I talked to this man four or five times a week, I took his trash to the dumpster, helped him get Roxi inside when she was being difficult, but I didn’t know his name. I tried not to think about how this ache reminded me of the same one I’ve been fighting for almost a year. I tried not to think, but all I could think about was Papa.

It’s been almost a year since I lost my grandfather. In fact, in two months and two days it will be a year. I don’t think about it all the time or anything…

People keep saying this is going to get easier, but instead of waiting for it to not hurt, I think I’m going to go drink an insane amount of coffee and write something.

Have a good day, everyone!

So I’m not very good and this blogging every day thing, I’ll get better though. Promise!

So, where did I leave off? Right, lots of books. And hey, since last weekend I’ve got another handful of books to add to the list, so let’s get started shall we?

Anthem by Ayn RandAnthem

Anthem was required reading for one of my advanced English classes either my freshman or senior year of high school. For someone  who enjoyed 1984 as much as I did, I just couldn’t get excited about reading Anthem. Once I got into it though, I couldn’t put it down. Now that I’m older, I wanted to go back and take another look at the world of the street sweepers and the secret tunnel and I loved it just as much as I did before. This time through though, I picked up several of the more deeply buried themes that weren’t quite as clear as they were when I was in high school. All in all, I highly recommend this short novel to anyone who enjoyed Orwell’s 1984, or you know, anyone with a pulse. It’s a quick read, at just 100 pages I knocked it off my reading list in one sitting at my local Starbucks.

The HoThe Hobbitbbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve gone back and lost myself in Middle Earth. Even over ten years after I first encountered hobbits, this is still one of my favorite fantasy worlds. As a writer, and an avid reader, I often wish I could have had the opportunity to meet Tolkien, to pick his brain and try and learn all this tricks. Even as much of a Tolkien fan as I am, I have to admit, the man was overly wordy. I’ve heard several people say that this took away from the story for them, but to be honest, Tolkien is one of the only authors that had been described as overly wordy that I don’t have a problem sitting and reading for hours (Hawthorn however makes me want to beat my head into a wall, so take this as you will), whether this be because of me deep love for the character’s brought to life in these pages of simply because of a growing admiration for their creator I do  not know. However, if you, like most of the rest of the world, are enjoying the Hobbit movies, you really need to sit down with the book.

***My Hobbit movie rant***An Unexpected Journey

Now don’t get me wrong, I am loving the new movies and have seen the two that are currently out several times. However, there are several things that I have a serious problem with, from minor details, to completely pointless additions.

For one, Fili and Kili, they’re both blond. This is a very small easy to fix detail, and I love the actor portraying Kili, but would it have really been all that hard for him to have the correct hair color? I don’t know why that’s been bothering me as much as it has, but I had to get that out.

Now, can we talk about some elves? I loved Legolas as much as the next person in the Lord of the Rings movies, but apparently Peter Jackson is harboring some deep, unrequited, elf love. Enough to dedicate several scenes and some impressive barrel jumping skills to a character who was never so much as mentioned in the original book. And as for the bad ass spider killing she-elf, yet another completely made up character. Now, I understand having to tweak things and add things (and people) when adapting a book into a movie, but to add someone to just be multiple characters love interest (one of which who shouldn’t be in the movie to begin with!) just no, it’s bothers me like no other.

 

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen ChoboskyThe Perks of Being a Wallflower

Amazing movie, decent book.

This is one book where I had seen the movie and that’s why I originally picked up the book. And I’m glad I did, although I do think that ultimately, I like the movie better (which is very rare for me).

I am glad I read the book though, and there are several things that I like how the book handled better, such as Charlie’s relationship with his sister, which is completely different than it is in the movie. I also really enjoyed how the entire book with written in Charlie’s ‘Dear Friend’ letters. I wouldn’t quite put this book in the same category as It’s Kind of a Funny Story, but it definitely deserves some recognition.

The Claiming of Sleeping BeautyThe Claiming of Sleeping Beauty by Anne Rice

Very, very rarely do I not know if I’m going to be able to finish a book but I had a hard time getting through this one. I love Anne Rice so I was excited to see what she could do with the genre, as well as the idea of remaking a classic fairy tale. Instead I was both appalled and disappointed. My problem wasn’t as much with the content, which well get to in a minute, but the quality. I’ve read a lot of Anne Rice’s books and it’s hard to believe that they were written by the same person. Content wise I was even more upset. There were so many places the story could have gone but the continual rape and torment of a 15 year old? I’m not afraid to say that this isn’t the first book of this genre I’ve read, but it is the first one that’s made me feel so skDivergenteevy I wanted to take a shower. All in all, I was very disappointed.

Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant by Veronica Roth

All I can possibly say here is I don’t know why you’re still reading this. You need to go read these books. Right now. Go!

 

So, over the past week my entire world has pretty much been tossed upside down (you know, I normally really hate cliches, but it’s accurate at this point).

For those of you who don’t know, when your parents or other people older (and okay, wiser) than you say “Hey, I know you’re happy now, but you really don’t want to run off and get married at eighteen,” they actually know what the hell they’re talking about. Now of course, like every other 18 almost 19 year old in the world, I thought I knew everything and I was the exception, well, you can see where this is going, right?

So, at 20 years old, in the middle of a divorce, and at the tail end of my winter break from school, I get a very cryptic email from the financial aid department at my school. After several hours on the phone, and almost 14 transfers later I was told that there had been a mix up (mainly because my so called adviser is a moron) and some of the information I had been given was incorrect so my financial aid for the fall semester had never been applied so my spring semester classes had been drop.

Um, wanna try that again?

Like most 20 year old college students, I don’t happen to just have $10,000 laying around, and the ever apologizing guy on the phone keeps telling me that it’s going to take at least 2 weeks to process the correct paper work (but could potentially take upwards of 6!) there was no way for their department to fix the error before the semester started, but of course, they’d love to see me in the fall.

*Insert several hour long freak out and obsessive coffee drinking here*

But now, of course I have regained my ever calm and lady like stature… haha okay, or maybe not.  But I do know how to breath again, though.

And with the breathing, and some coffee, I have decided that I’m only going to look at this in the most positive light. A semester off isn’t the worst thing in the world. In fact, this gives me the opportunity to work full time until the fall semester instead of just picking up shifts here and there.  And I’ve also decided to do the 50 Book Pledge this year (and at the rate I’m going, I’m going to get in more than just the 50 books.

And because you are my ever attentive audience who has no other choice but to listen to me babble (or so I choose to believe), you get to hear all about the books I’ve read and plan on reading. Muahaha.

You can check out my ‘to be read’ bookshelf here.

So far this year I’ve finished:it's kind of a funny story

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

I have seen the movie based on this book at least a dozen times but until recently I had never sat down with the actual book. In fact, this was one of the several books that I got with my Christmas money. This is definitely a book that I think everyone should read at least once in their life. It’s something that I wish would replace one of the drier novels on the required reading lists in high schools, in fact I have a feeling that it would do a lot of people a lot more good that The House on Mango Street or one of the other books that took months to get through that I only skimmed. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever read another book that I was able to relate to in terms of my depression and anxiety, both school related and not. This is definitely a book everyone needs to get their hands on.

 

Under the Covers and Between the Sheets by C. Alan Joyce and Sarah Janssenunder the covers and between the sheets

This is a book that I wish had come into my life a lot sooner than it did. My mom got it for me for Christmas and I laughed until I cried… A couple of times. I’m pretty sure any writer or book lover would enjoy this one. When they say “the inside story behind classic characters, authors, unforgettable phrases and unexpected endings,” they mean that that is only the beginning. This whole volume is full of the most out of the way facts that your English teacher never told you. Did you know that Mark Twain once wrote that “Every time I read Pride and Prejudice I want to dig her [Jane Austin] up and beat her over the skull with her own shin bone.”? Or that Dorothy Parker left her entire estate to Martin Luther King Jr.? Or what about the fact that Maya Angelou once worked as a nightclub “shake dancer”? And all of that is just one the back cover! Seriously, why are you still reading this, go buy the book!

I’ve also already read:

Anthem by Ayn Rand

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chobosky

and you’ll hear all about them tomorrow because I’m tired and there are people in my living room. Night guys!

 

Wow, I suck

Note: I really do suck cause I could have sworn this posted two days ago…

You’d think that with as much as I talk, I could keep up with a blog. Instead I have two that are sadly under utilized.

Well, I stuck to my declaration to be less lame this past semester. I didn’t go to frat parties, and okay, when I did ‘socialize,’ it was in my building, but I did go to parties and make actual friends! Granted, it’s now winter break, and will be for another week, and I’m wall flowering it (is that an actual phrase? If not it should be) at my local Starbucks, a wall of notebooks and empty cups between me and the rest of the world. I don’t mind though, I’ve been in one hell of a writing funk lately. The only thing I seem to be able to write in even semi consistently over the past few months in my journal and I’m pretty sure it’s getting sick of hearing from me.

So, new year, new me? Well, in a way that’s going to be true. Within the next few months I’ll be officially divorced (wow, that’s not fun to say at only twenty). 2013 sucked, and it’s dragging it’s last little bit of suckyess (again, if it’s not a word it should be, maybe it should be an i though instead of a y…) into 2014 but I’m determined to have this year be a million times better than the last. And that shouldn’t be too difficult as long as people promise to stop dying. But anyway, I’m determined to grow as a person.

And I’m going to start by biting my tongue. As I said a second ago, I’m writing at Starbucks and yes, I’m sitting at a bigger table cause it’s in the back and by an outlet and hell, I sit here every time I’m here. There are half a dozen other open chairs and this table and these people decide to sit right across from me, moving my shit and being loud and annoy. Um, hello, there’s a whole other side of the table. But, growing up means being able to bite my tongue and smile, so smile I am.

Okay, I’m going to go be productive now, but you’ll hear from me again soon (hopefully)!

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.