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New Release | The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt

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The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt

Published: September 4, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: 356

Genres: women’s fiction, literary fiction, mental health, domestic fiction, chick lit, drama

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: moms with psychological struggles trying to keep it all together, validating books about mental health and self harm

Foodie Vibes: pina coladas, takeout pizza and marshmallows roasted over an open fire pit

 

Synopsis:

‘Is her life as easy and effortless as it seems from the outside? Or is she feeling lonely, all by herself in that big house, an evening stretching out in front of her just as it is for me?’

When Tessa arrives at the little house by the lake with her two children Ben and Katherine, it is an escape. For all of them. Never mind that the rental house is a bit small – it’s theirs for the summer. A place to hide…

Their isolation is disrupted when they meet the family from the big house next door. Three children Charlotte, Zoe and Max and their glamorous mother Rebecca – who seems absolutely determined to invite Tessa in to their lives.

But Rebecca is harbouring a dark secret of her own. One that will put not only her family at risk, but Tessa’s too. And when she discovers she has no option but to leave her children for several weeks, Tessa feels like the only person she can trust.

Suddenly Tessa finds herself living a life she could only have dreamed of. Wealth, a large brood of children, and Rebecca’s handsome husband Josh visiting at weekends.

But even as powerful bonds are forming between them, secrets have a way of catching up with people. And as the summer comes to an end, who will learn to love again and who will risk losing everything?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and Kate Hewitt for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

First of all, Trigger Warning for self harm and child sexual abuse.

Keeping yourself safe is most important, so make sure you’re in a healthy place before reading, my lovelies.

Feel free to send me a message on here, or a DM on Twitter for more privacy, if you want to know more about content that may trigger you.

Now onto the book review.

It seems as if everyone is keeping secrets from those around them. Pretending that they’re okay, when they’re anything but. I think we all can relate to this.

Over summer vacation 2 moms, Tessa and Rebecca, take their kids to summer vacation cottages. They didn’t know each other before the summer, but they end up neighbors, friends, and changing each other’s lives forever. They say it’s because their kids need playmates, but both moms know they need each other’s help more. Tessa has 2 kids, is in dire need of a makeover, constantly doubts herself, and has enough money but still must live by a budget. Rebecca has 3 kids, a glamorous lifestyle, a seemingly perfect life, more money than she can spend, and some serious issues going on. Hence the trigger warning. People are jealous of how well put together she seems, but inside she’s a wreck, just trying to get through the day.

I appreciated that self harm in adults is discussed. And not as a one off conversation. As a legitimate mental health concern that is featured throughout the novel. If you’re looking for good representation of self harm in adults, this is your book. 

The overall story the author tells of moms as people first that also care fiercely for their children is refreshing. And you can’t go wrong with a summer cottage on the lake story.

The only caveat that I have is the weird situation that is thrust upon one of the moms about halfway through the story. I can’t give away any spoilers, but it’s kind of a you need to go with the flow story line and not critique that it probably isn’t realistic. Oh, also the ending completely wrecked me. So I can see how some people might have an issue with it. 

Overall, The Secrets We Keep featured some truly broken adults who are trying to hold it together to care for their children. A wonderful authentic representation of adult self harm. I highly recommend, as long as you won’t be too triggered.  

 

If you want some helpful information or support about these serious topics, click the links below

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

Self-Harm Crisis Text Hotline

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

 

Do trigger warnings help you to choose a book?

Everyone has different triggers. Which ones would be helpful to you, that I mention in my future reviews?

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Chronic Illness/Disabilities · Essays · LGBTQIA+ Books · Medical · mental health · non fiction · psychology

ARC Book Review | Firsts: Coming of Age Stories by People with Disabilities by Belo Miguel Cipriani

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Firsts: Coming of Age Stories by People With Disabilities by Belo Miguel Ciprani

Published: October 1, 2018

Publisher: Oleb Books

Pages: 228 

Genres: non fiction, essays, LGBTQIA+, chronic illness, mental health, disabilities 

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: authentic stories told by real people, books about living with disability, representation in literature

Foodie Vibes: whatever you like, because each person is different

 

Synopsis:

Take a step back in time with some of the best writers with disabilities as they recount their first adventure, their first heartbreak, and the first time the unexpected treaded into their life. From body transformations to societal setbacks, to love affairs and family trauma, Firsts collects the most thought-provoking and exciting stories of our time by people with disabilities. Contributors include Nigel David Kelly, Kimberly Gerry-Tucker, Caitlin Hernandez, Andrew Gurza, and David-Elijah Nahmod.

 

Review: 

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Oleb Books and Belo Miguel Ciprani for an ARC ebook copy. As always, an honest review from me.

Firsts is a collection of essays written by different people with disabilities, so that people with disabilities could accurately see themselves represented in the media. I don’t have a disability myself, so my thoughts on the book come from an able bodies point of view.

Each essay has a different author and therefore a different voice. Certain essays captivated me more than others, but I enjoyed and learned from each person’s experiences. Overall the writing is wonderful. I love that the book is a compilation of authentic life experiences written by and for people with disabilities. After reading certain essays, I wanted to seek out additional written work by the authors. 

5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Chronic Illness/Disabilities · feminism · LGBTQIA+ Books · Medical · memoir · mental health · non fiction

New Release | Flat: Reclaiming My Body from Breast Cancer by Catherine Guthrie

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Flat: Reclaiming My Body from Breast Cancer by Catherine Guthrie

Published: September 25, 2018

Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing

Pages: 264

Genres: memoir, LGBTQIA+, medical, non fiction, feminism

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: memoirs that don’t gloss over the difficulties, women who tell it like it is

Foodie Vibes: green tea, rice cereal with almond milk

 

Synopsis:

A feminist breast cancer memoir of medical trauma, love, and how she found the strength to listen to her body. As a young, queer woman, Catherine Guthrie had worked hard to feel at home in her body. However, after years writing about women’s health and breast cancer, Guthrie is thrust into the role of the patient after a devastating diagnosis at age thirty-eight. At least, she thinks, I know what I’m up against.

She was wrong. In one horrifying moment after another, everything that could go wrong does–the surgeon gives her a double mastectomy but misses the cancerous lump, one of the most effective drug treatments fails, and a doctor’s error may have unleashed millions of breast cancer cells into her body.

Flat is Guthrie’s story of how two bouts of breast cancer shook her faith in her body, her relationship, and medicine. Along the way, she challenges the view that breasts are essential to femininity and paramount to a woman’s happiness. Ultimately, she traces an intimate portrayal of how cancer reshapes her relationship with Mary, her partner, revealing–in the midst of crisis–a love story.

Filled with candor, vulnerability, and resilience, Guthrie upends the “pink ribbon” narrative and offers a unique perspective on womanhood, what it means to be “whole,” and the importance of women advocating for their desires. Flat is a story about how she found the strength to forge an unconventional path–one of listening to her body–that she’d been on all along.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Skyhorse Publishing and Catherine Guthrie for an ARC ebook copy for review. As always, an honest review from me.

My honest to goodness first thoughts were something along the lines of, well this will be a depressing read. And in some ways it is. Cancer sucks. But the book is also educating, validating, inspiring, harrowing, and thought provoking. The intersection of medicine, feminism, and the LGBTQIA+ community is unlike anything I’ve ever read before. Her story fills a gap of information and experiences that’s not discussed in the world of pink on pink on pink of breast cancer.

Flat gives a voice to women who choose not to have reconstructive breast surgery after a mastectomy. At first thought it seems like such a radical idea, but after reading I’ve become so much more educated the autonomy that women should have over their own bodies, especially when dealing with a health crisis. The story is not a happily ever after fluffy feel good Lifetime movie nor is it so utterly depressing, but a real life look at living with cancer and fighting for your life and happiness. 

As I’m writing this I cannot think of anything negative to say about the book, so I’m bumping up the star rating to a 5. 

While it’s a bit of a heavy topic, do yourself a favor and read the book. The discussions about health, feminism, the medical world, relationships, chronic illness and body autonomy are fascinating, necessary and impactful. 

 

How can books teach us things we didn’t know we needed to learn? #privilege