Review: In Sight of Stars by Gae Polisner

Books about teens with mental illness are hit or miss for me. Usually not very good and full of cliches, but every now and then a true keeper comes along. This latest tale from Gae Polisner is definitely one of the latter.

Klee’s had a lot to deal with in his young life. Not only did his dad kill himself, but Klee was the one to find him afterwards. His mom, hoping for a fresh start, uproots them from his beloved New York City. He doesn’t really fit in at his new school and basically resigns himself to just getting by until he graduates and can begin a new life.

But then he meets Sarah. And everything changes. She becomes his reason for being. She’s his polar opposite. And he can’t imagine his life without her. Sarah, however, isn’t as commital. Eventually it all becomes too much for Klee and he makes a desperate attempt to end the pain he’s feeling.

This author does an outstanding job of taking us inside Klee’s head, imagining what he must be thinking and feeling. So much trauma at such a young age…leading up to the incident and his recovery period afterwards.

A word of warning: Although this one is classified as young adult, I’d suggest it for the older end of the spectrum. The message is important but it’s pretty sexually descriptive. An insightful story!


Buy It Now: In Sight of Stars


Review: The Weight of Zero by Karen Fortunati


There’s something very refreshing about an author who prefaces their book with an explanation of exactly WHY their story is different from the others of the same genre.  That’s a rare find in today’s world.

Catherine knows that it’s coming.  As sure as the passage of time, she’s certain that eventually her debilitating depression/bipolar disorder will rear its ugly head again. And because she knows it’s unavoidable, she has an escape plan.  No way is she going to be caught unaware like the last time things went south.  So she finds comfort in a shoebox. It’s here that she’s stockpiling an arsenal of medication sure to take her away from the pain for good.  She doesn’t see what she’s planning as a selfish act.  In fact, it’s her sacrifice to everyone she loves.  Only when she’s out of their lives can they truly begin to live again.

But something happens as she’s just passively walking through life.  She starts to care again.  First in the form of Michael, her first boyfriend.  And then along comes Kristal, someone who’s dealing with just as much as she is.  Still, she’s bound and determined to follow through with her plan when, not if because she knows it’s inevitable, the darkness once again comes for her.

This book was so very good for too many reasons to list.  The characters are real, raw, and flawed.  Everyone has something they’re dealing with, even if it’s not apparent at first glance.  And Catherine’s journey is difficult.  It’s not all nice and neat and wrapped up in a pretty package by the last chapter.  Real life is very much like that, and to pretend otherwise is not fair.


Buy It Now:  The Weight of Zero


Review: Detached by Christina Kilbourne


There’s  a game my fellow Muses & I like to play from time to time.  We call it “Guess the Muse” and it involves guessing which one of our brilliant reviewers has written a certain review.  Yes, we are that predictable at times.  And I’ve been known to gravitate towards books involving young people facing issues of all kinds.  So for this review,  I’m staying true to form.

Anna is in a very dark place.  She enjoys nothing, feels nothing, even tastes nothing.  Everything in her life is just there.  So she dreams of an escape route, even going so far as to make a list of possible ways to commit suicide.  And she makes a few attempts, although none of them come close to being successful.  Until the very last one.

Depression and suicide in teens are always difficult topics to read about. But they’re   important ones because they’re  very real. This book does a good job of telling the story of one such teen in a way that’s entirely believable. Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was hearing Anna’s story told from three different perspectives: Anna herself, her mother, and her best friend. It’s a reminder that these are issues that don’t just affect one person but instead everyone around that person.


Buy It Now:  Detached

Review: How to Keep Rolling After a Fall by Karole Cozz0


When I read Karole Cozzo’s debut novel, How to Say I Love You Out Loud, I knew I was on to something good.  So it was with great anticipation I began her new release.   And I just love when I can pass along five-star gems to other readers…

Nikki messed up big time, and she knows it.  After a party (unauthorized) at her house, pictures of a classmate end up on social media. And let’s just say these aren’t your average selfies.  Does it matter that she didn’t actually take and post the pictures?  Not really.  It was, after all, her house and her Facebook account.  Her punishment wouldn’t have been as hard to take if her friends hadn’t thrown her under the bus and left her to take all the blame.

A disappointment to her family and herself, she finds herself an outcast at her old school as well as at her new school.  She resigns herself to just getting by, not calling anymore attention to herself and making do until the end of the year.  But friendships do happen, and love interests do come along.  Nikki’s finding it harder and harder to forgive herself and to move on.  Will she be able to make amends and move forward?

This story takes a very real, very tough look at a topic very much in the headlines these days.  Where does personal responsibility begin and end?  Are you just as much to blame if you just stand by and watch? And how long does it take to earn back the trust of those you’ve disappointed the most?  Another outstanding story from this author!


~Buy It Now:  How to Keep Rolling After a Fall


Review: Cure by Brenda Zalegowski


Warning:   If you are expecting an in-depth review of this book with complete character analysis and a detailed plot summary, you’ve come to the wrong place.  If, however, you’re looking for a simple directive to read an outstanding book, then carry on.

Let me also preface this very short, brief review by saying that you really must read Brenda’s debut novel, Behind the Falls.  Yes, it’s the precursor to this outstanding story.  And no, it’s not imperative to understanding and loving Cure.  But it will help you fall in love with the characters even more.

This is a story of love and loss, things that we are all familiar with.  Love never comes easy, but then most things worth having never do.  And young love, teen love especially, is that much more difficult.  There are tears and there are smiles.  There are lives lost and lives saved.  And there’s closure, of some sort at least.  Yes, you’ll recognize many of the characters from the first story.  And you’ll meet some new ones.

And that’s all you’re going to get.  I’ve never been one to write a synopsis of a story and call it a review, but I do usually give a bit more than you’re getting with this one.  But I just can’t with this one.  You’ll just have to trust me.  Read Behind the Falls.  And then read this one.


Buy It Now:  Cure

Review – A Long Way Down, by Nick Hornby.

10073People say that brain surgery is hard, and I agree, it probably is, but I also imagine that writing a story about suicide, and making it into a dark comedy, is also very hard!   Nick Hornby has achieved this major feat in his novel, A Long Way Down.   Now, this book came out 10 years ago, but it is the first Hornby novel that I have read.   I’d always been interested in picking up one of his novels (Hornby is perhaps most famously known for his novel, About a Boy), but it was a case of never pulling the trigger, so to speak.    Well, I’m certainly glad that I did!

The novel explores the lives and interactions of four characters that incidentally meet on the top of a building on New Years Eve; all have the intent of jumping off said building.    Hmmm…. Sounds pretty grim, huh?   Well, let me give you an example of what drew me in:

Can I explain why I wanted to jump off the top of  tower block?  Of course I can explain why I wanted to jump off the top of a tower block.  I’m not a bloody idiot.  I can explain it because it wasn’t inexplicable: It wasn’t a logical decision, the product of proper thought.  It wasn’t even very serious thought, either.

The first few lines of the book are full of dark humor, philosophy (actual, realistic philosophical thinking) and candor.   Hornby’s use of the first person narrative really draws you in and entices you into each character’s experiences and story.   Talking of which, the characters are a huge reason this novel works so well; each character is real.  They all have their flaws, and you will spend a considerable amount of time disliking them, wanting to slap them silly, but at the same time, wanting to give them a hug and talk things out with them.   I think when you’re story circles around such a profound and personal theme of wondering how your life has ended up the way it has and not seeing any way forward, the characters need to be real; they need to be human – someone we can relate to.

Hornby is British, so his humor is very dark, discrete and dry.  I personally loved it, but I can see how a lot of people may miss it, or simply not find it amusing.   However, I think this novel will have something for everyone, as it offers hope, perspective and a good old fashioned kick up the rear end.    It’s not all doom and gloom, but it also doesn’t offer a glossy shine on life.  Oh, and there is a film version of this book, on Netflix, and while it isn’t a bad  film, it doesn’t offer nearly the same amount as the book does (and in my opinion, the casting person for that movie should have read the book a little more carefully!), so steer clear until you have finished the book!

Until next time,


A Long Way Down

Review: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

mebeforeThis is another prime example of why I don’t read book descriptions. If I had read this book’s description I doubt if I would have given it a chance…If I had done that I would have missed out on this fantastic novel.

Yes, I won’t lie…it is sad….I would even say it is somewhat predictable. I knew long before the reader was *told* what was going on. I also knew how it would end. However, I will say that unlike a “Nicolas Spark” (yes, I am about to be negative about NS, get over it) I did not feel like the ending was done just to jerk on the readers emotional chain. I don’t feel like it was done for shock value. I feel it was done to keep the book honest.

It doesn’t really matter if you agree with the choices the characters made for their future (without giving massive spoilers here it is very difficult to discuss this novel)…the point of the novel is that it is ultimately the character’s own choice. No matter how much we love someone. No matter how much we want to do the right thing….at the end of the day we have to love those in our lives enough to let them make their own choices, even if we disagree with them with every fiber of our being.

Moyes does a fabulous job of pointing this out. Of, hopefully, making the reader aware that we shouldn’t be so quick to judge the actions of others. That we should never ever say what is right for another person.

I think much of the public think that the choices discussed in this novel are *easy* choices…or an *easy* way out of a terrible situation. After reading this novel I’m pretty sure it’s obvious that this just isn’t the case. Bravery and selflessness is shown by all the characters in this novel. Yes, it is something they are all struggling with….but at the end of the day they all put away their own desires to support an unbearable end…

I had my own personal beliefs about issues discussed in this book before I read it. I still have the same outlook after reading it. Bottom line….you have no idea of the struggles people go though, even those that are closet to you and ones that you love. You have no right to press your viewpoints on to someone else. You have no right to tell someone what they must do, even if you do so with the very best intentions….As humans we have a basic obligation to respect each other’s wishes and to not pass judgement on something we don’t have a clue about. No one knows how they would act in a situation until they are actually in THAT situation. You can tell yourself a million times that “I would never make that choice”, but until you’re forced to do so you really can’t be sure….

Yea…yea….yea….I know this is a rubbish review and you’re wondering what the hell I’m talking about….so stop reading it already and go out and read the damn book whydon’tcha?

Until next time….
Urania xx

Buy it now Me Before You by Jojo Moyes