Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock – Book Review

Author: Matthew Quick 
Published: January 2014 by Headline Book Publishing

Leonard Peacock is turning 18.
And he wants to say goodbye.

Not to his former best friend, whose torments have driven him to consider committing something tragic and horrific.

Nor to his mum who’s moved out and left him to fend form himself. But to his four friends.
A Humphrey-Bogart-obsessed neighbour
A teenage violin virtuoso
A pastor’s daughter
A teacher

Most of the time, Leonard believes he’s weird and sad but these friends have made him think that maybe he’s not.

He wants to thank them, and bid them farewell.

matthewquick-forgivemeleonardpeacockI’ve read a lot of books about depression and suicide. I have had Manic Depression (Bipolar Disorder) for most of my adult life (and probably most of my young adult life, undiagnosed) and find that I can relate well to these characters, draw from their experiences and relate them back to mine, learn from them, grow with them etc, etc, etc. But this book was more than that to me. Unlike All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, in which one of the main characters does, after much fighting against it, eventually kill himself; Leonard, is so adamant to let it consume him and end his life, and he doesn’t fight it. Leonard has accepted his fate, his doom, his demise. And he is content with it, not accepting that anyone can actually help him, regardless of whether he wants them to save him or not. Leonard’s story is about goodbye, not about battling his inner demons; Leonard’s demons have, seemingly, already won.

And that’s one of the things I really like about this book. The gritty, harsh reality of it. Because a lot of the time, (especially at that age, when the bigger picture is so very difficult to see,) giving up is the easiest option. Giving in to the desire, the burning ache, to just end everything and be done with it, is real. Leonard is a little quirky, as most male protagonists in YA lit are these days, but I like his quirks, they’re subtle and cool and even though he doesn’t seem to fit in in his shitty high school, he’d certainly feel at home in college or university. He’s smart, but he is humble. I really liked Leonard’s character.

What I loved secondly about this book, was it’s ability to keep what happened between Leonard and Asher – likely the catalyst for Leonard’s depression – under wraps until Leonard actually allowed himself to think about. Leonard had hidden it away in the deepest, darkest recesses of his mind, and did not want to think about it, and so the reader didn’t get to know about it either. The information on each character that Leonard was saying goodbye to came when, and if, it was needed.

tumblr_ms5g74snHw1rkciaro1_500I also loved, wholeheartedly, the mix of non-traditional prose in this novel. There are three main prose forms in this book: the main traditional prose through which Leonard’s story is told, footnotes to the story to add in after thoughts, additional information and anecdotes that Leonard feels the reader ought to know or to give context, and lastly the letters that Leonard writes ‘from the future’ to his teenage self. This kept the book interesting, even if the letters don’t make sense at first.

The characters, as few of them as there are, also helped to keep this book interesting. Actually, not even really the characters themselves, more the stories behind the way each character was connected to Leonard, and the thoughts that Leonard has about them, how he feels about them, and the ideas he conjures in his own imagination about each one.Herr Silverman was the one I definitely found the most interesting, the way he actually cares about Leonard, ad in a way that Leonard doesn’t even understand. In the end, even though he only kind of admits it, Leonard is glad that there was at least one person, one adult that he could turn to, talk to, and who might even be able to save him. The way Leonard sees Herr Silverman instills in the reader that eternal little blip of hope, that maybe they really aren’t completely alone. And this little blip of hope is IMPORTANT, it sends a great message to anyone that might relate closely with Leonard and his view of the world. The true, gritty insight into Leonards mind is exceedingly well written, engaging and honest, and I LOVED it. I’m sincerely looking forward to picking up more books by Matthew Quick!

Again, I have to say: It’s important to reach out for help if you think you might be suffering from depression, sometimes this is the hardest step to recovery. If you don’t feel like you can talk to anyone in your life, sometimes an anonymous ear to listen can go a long way, contacting a counselling service can save a life, or even just someone online who understands what you’re going through (yes, this is an invitation to email me if you ever need to talk to someone). Check out Beyond Blue for more information on battling depression, or suicidal thoughts.

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Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: A Book that Became a Movie (t’s not a movie yet, but a movie is in the works)

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Five Books I’m Really Looking Forward to Reading

I have a book addiction. Seriously, I can’t go into a bookstore without buying books, and I go into bookstores a lot. Ergo, I have a lot of books sitting on my shelves at the moment that are still waiting to be read. But they look so pretty, sitting there, waiting.

There are well over two dozen books sitting on my To Be Read (TBR) list at the moment, but here are the top five on that list that I can’t wait to read:

(Hover over the titles/authors for links to more information)

1. Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock by Matthew Quick

matthewquick-forgivemeleonardpeacockI know very little about this book, and that’s partially why I’m so excited to read it. I suppose, I tend to love any book that tackles the taboo. Such as I loved Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli, or even Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult, this book also tackles those ever taboo issues in high school. I haven’t read any other of Matthew Quick’s books, but I saw the film of Silver Linings Playbook and that book is also on my TBR list, and hopefully this book lives up to the awesome reviews I’ve seen so far, none of which, thankfully, have given away any of the plot.

2. Ketchup Clouds by Annabel Pitcher

kc-packshotI originally picked this book up based on the gorgeous bird prints on the outer page edges, they are simply stunning. Then I read the blurb – Secrets, romance, murder and lies: Zoe shares a terrible secret in a letter to a stranger on death row. I mean, doesn’t that just seem to hook you in right away? Also – I love books that are written, or stories that are told, in non-traditional prose, so letter writing is right up my alley. A novel centred around a 15 year-old and her complicated grasp of live and emotion, this novel is certainly one that I am likely going to devour in a matter of hours.

3. Me Being Me is Exactly as Insane as You Being You by Todd Hasak-Lowy

22456952Now, to be one hundred percent honest with you, this was predminately a ‘cover buy’, although I had technically decided that I wanted to read it before I actually purchased it. I saw it on @blueyedbiblo‘s instagram feed and the cover was just gorgeous and the title equally as intriguing.  On top of that, this book is written entirely in lists. Yes, lists. Something I adore, use a lot in my day to day life and tend to be drawn to, particularly when scouring social media (think, ’20 things all girls who wear glasses know to be true’ etc.). So another non-traditional prose based novel full of teen angst I simply can’t wait to dive head first into.

4. Love Letters to the Dead by Ava Dellaira

book-coverAnother book written in letters. It seems I can’t help myself when it comes to these types of books. This book sees our protagonist writing a letter, first off, as a school project, to someone who has died, and Laurel chooses Kurt Cobain. This is admittedly one of the main reasons I want to read this book, because I am old enough to have been into Nirvana just after Kurt took his own life, so I remember actually hearing about it and coming to terms with that as a pre-teen. Death is always a hard subject to write about, and grief is even harder because we all experience it so differently. This book was going to be my first to read in May, but my copy got really badly damaged in a rainstorm not long ago, and my new copy came today, can’t wait.

5. The Shock of the Fall by Nathan Filer

The-Shock-Of-The-Fall-coverIt was the blurb of this book that made me carry it away from the shelf and up to the counter to part with my hard earned cash. The blurb consists of a simple quote in a childlike voice: “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.” And that was it, that’s what grabbed me. But another book about mental illness is something that I know will grab my attention, because it hits so close to home. This book has had a lot of great reviews, and seems like it’s gonna be another brilliant read.

Keep your eyes peeled for reviews of these books on my review page as I read them. You an also keep up to date on what I’m currently reading, if you feel so inclined, by following more of my book adventures on Instagram (@felixturtle_reads) and on Goodreads (felixturtle).

Images via: here, here, here, here, here, here,

Five Awesome Book-Bloggers, Instagramers and Websites.

I love to read and I love books, and recently I have been scouring the blissful abyss of the internet, hunting down blogs, Instagram feeds, and other websites about books. Of course there are the big sites, like Book Depository and Goodreads – but I was on the hunt for something more personal. I wanted to find some fellow book lovers with similar tastes where I can find some book recommendations, great images and some reviews too.

I tried to avoid google. I used social media, mostly, to guide me: Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr. I let one image lead me to others, which led me to blogs, and I have come up with a list of a few that really inspired me – that have even got me reading more lately. Here they are:


1. Blue Eyed Biblio (@blueeyedbiblio)

blueeyedbiblio-msmarvelEmily is a vivacious 18-year-old book addict. But don’t let her age fool you! She is an avid reader, and she has an stunning Instagram account with a few hundred beautiful photographs of her books and bookshelves, and a staggering 106,000 odd followers to date. She also recently started a blog over at blogspot, where she posts about books she is reading and reviews books she has read. She reads mostly YA fiction, like me, so I find most of her recommendations interesting and have enjoyed all the books I’ve read that I have seen in her feed.

blue eyed biblio


2. OwlCrate (@owlcrate)

owlcrate logoMuch like the successful Lootcrates‘ desire to share Funko pop vinyls and other such nerdy wares, OwlCrate aims to share YA fiction with avid readers around the world. It is a subscription service, that upon signing up, sends subscribers a new YA novel every month for the length of their subscription, along with a few extra goodies as well. The great thing about OwlCrate, is not only the surprise of a new book every month, delivered right i your door by owl (poastal worker), but also the community that comes with it, being able to connect with other readers who are reading the same thing as you! Just follow the hashtag #OwlCrate on Instagram.

owlcrate


3. Nook & Burrow (@Lillytales)

lillytalesYou can find some lovely images of books and bookmarks on Kate’s instagram, with lots of great book recommendations, predominantly by strong female authors. Her website, while not solely centred on books, has some amazing things that book lovers will also love! Like customisable and beautiful wooden bookmarks, prints, wall-hangings and wonderful soy scented candles with magical scents such as Dusty Bookshelves and Buttery-Beer.

nook&burrow


4.  Book Drunk In Love Reviews

bookdrunkinlove gravityKirsten presents a nice, clean and simple tumblr blog, that has both written and video reviews of a great range of titles. Worth checking out if you want to know a decent bit about books before you read them. A range of adult and YA novels, there are some great talks from her youtube channel – complete with her amazingly cool bangs (that make me want to listen to everything she says!). Brutally honest, and very sincere with recommendations, I can honestly recommend this page to anyone looking to branch out a little and try something new.

Book drunk in love


5. Half Blood Princess (@_halfbl00dprincess)

halfbl00dprincess aliceAndie has such a stunningly beautiful feed of book photography I couldn’t leave her out of this list. I just love sitting and looking at her photos. Just another place to have a browse, read another book lovers thoughts and get some seriously good book recommendations. The way she sometimes does little themes with each photo, like Harry Potter, or Alice in Wonderland, is also inspiring in itself, to take better pictures on instagram if nothing else.

halfbl00dprincess


So there you have it, some of my favourite places to find book recommendations, reviews, accessories and just stunning pictures.

Of course, you can always check my book reviews and instagram out too!

felixturtle_reads

Edit: here is an article I just found on examiner.com boasting The top ten book accounts you should be following on Instagram. Check it out!

Eleanor & Park, Book Review

Author: Rainbow Rowell 

Published: 2013 by St. Martin’s Press

Yet again, I have found another Rainbow Rowell novel that resonated with me. This book is so wonderfully nice. I don’t mean that in a bad way, at all. I mean, I just enjoyed sitting and reading it, taking the journey with these two cool people, watching them fall in love and watching their world change and mould and crumble around them.

imageEleanor is so very much a younger version of myself in so many ways (despite my being born two years after the book is set), she is somewhat reserved, outwardly, doesn’t seem to care what people think, but inwardly is so hateful of herself it makes it hard for her to love anyone else. Also, she deals with being a little bit chubby – and I love that, cos its HARD. And Park, funnily enough, reminds me of my boyfriend in some ways too. But we didn’t meet when we were teenagers, regardless of how many times we have fantasised together about just that.

The process of their falling for each other is so awkward and clunky – it is exactly how two teenagers would behave. Rowell gets inside a teenagers head so well that it feels like a teenager has written it themselves. With all the unsurety and insecurity that teenagers hold close to their hearts the story has a real sense of truth about it. The book explores the emotions of the two protagonists in so much back and forth without all that much happening until the story comes to a head in the last few chapters and shit really hits the fan. It doesn’t even feel like that much of a build up, just subtle hints along the way at one point the penny dropped and I just thought ‘Oh, shit.’

Rainbow Rowell has once more written a world that both teens and adults alike can get lost with the characters in, and it’s really, really good.

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4outof5  

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Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: A book set in High School


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Playlist for the Dead, Book Review

Published: 2015 by HarperTeen

 

As he listens to song after song, Sam tries to face up to what happened the night Hayden killed himself. But it’s only by taking out his earbuds and opening his eyes to the people around him that he will finally be able to piece together his best friend’s story. And maybe have a chance to change his own.

I’m going to admit something a little strange – I purchased this book based solely on the names of the main characters: Sam and Hayden. For those of you that know me, that may make sense, even though it isn’t all that significant. But for anyone else, a little clarification:

My name is Sam, and my first serious relationship was with a guy called Hayden. It’s a long way in the past now, and has no real significant bearing on my life, but it was funny, so I bought the book.

Looking past my reason for buying it, I did read the blurb and the premise of the story was promising, simply and clear. The story itself though is emotional and complicated, and that’s a good thing. The story centres around the suicide of Hayden, Sam’s best friend. Sam finds Hayden the morning after a party, withnote to sam PFTDno note, but instead, a USB stick, with a scrap of paper…

Each chapter is set to the melancholy tune of one of the songs from Hayden’s playlist, with tracks like Blink 182’s Adam’s Song and Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. (You can find a playlist of all the songs oer on 8tracks, made by sydneyteresa). The songs are fitting, dreary, sad, hopeless, and the consequential chapters flow around each song, exploring Sam’s emotions and his struggle to figure out why. The novel is well written, but still very easy to read, without being over-the-top or obnoxious at all. The language is that a teenager would probably use in daily life, and that just makes the book all the more relatable. Reading the book, I fully believed I was in the mind of a 15-year-old boy. It was refreshingly simple.

The themes explored though, are contrastingly not. Suicide, primarily, but also Sam’s guilt for what he feels is his part of the blame, guilt for seemingly moving on, first love and the feelings associated with attraction to the opposite sex, depression and also the frustration he feels at wanting the others he believes are at fault to pay for their crimes.

playlist of the dead

Told from Sam’s perspective, we experience the journey through his eyes, and we see the characters as he wants to see them – the bullies as bullies without their own problems, and Astrid as a gorgeous, amazing person, and not the sneaky deviant that she actually is. As Sam learns that these people aren’t what they may have always seemed to him, he begins to realise that maybe Hayden wasn’t all he seemed either, and he begins, slowly, to somewhat understand why Hayden might have committed suicide. He also begins to unravel the stories that tie them all together regarding Hayden’s decision.

Having had a fight the night before at a party, which they wouldn’t normally have gone to, Sam blames himself for the whole thing. But the more people he opens up to, and finds out about, the more he startsimageto figure out what actually happened, and that there was more to it than just what he had experienced. Falkoff writes this in such a way, bit by bit, that you can’t help but want to keep reading just to find out what happened. It was this clever way of spreading out how Sam found out each piece of the story that kept me reading, and why mention that the story is more complicated than just Sam dealing with his grief over the death of his friend.

The book is a little similar to Jay Asher’s Thirteen Reasons Why, though not quite as isolated and intense (I preferred Thirteen Reasons Why), however it is a nice easy read and keeps you hooked long enough to finished it.

4outof5

 

Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: A book published this year
 
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Fangirl, Book Review

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Published 2014 by Pan Macmillan, 461 Pages

A light-hearted frollick through the turbulence of teen fangirling.

It’s true, teen fangirling is a big deal. It is a life altering, game changing thing. Falling into a fandom, and becoming part of something amazing, bigger than you, always changing and so, SO inclusive is wonderful. It fills you up and takes you away. It is an escape. You can go anywhere you like, and share experiences with a multitude of different characters, whether they be from your favourite book, TV show, movie or game – there is a fandom for everything and we are not limited to one. Being a geek is the ultimate escape from reality, there is always a side window to sneak out of, a forest to run away to, a community waiting for you online to comfort, console and share in all the wonders that are created by artists all over the world – fiction.

It’s funny, how much I actually related to this book. It’s been a long time since I was at Uni, andFANGIRL book cover it’s so different to American college, but it’s been even longer since I was 18. But I still remember how it felt. The insecurity of it all. I studied English, and creative writing, like our main protagonist, Cath, and I used to write fanfiction too… In fact, I wrote fanfiction about Harry Potter falling in love with Draco Malfoy – much the way Cath write about the fictional world of Simon Snow, and how the protagonist of her fandom is falling for his nemesis. I saw so much of myself in Cath that this book dragged me in head first, very quickly.

I’m not judging my feelings, or my judgment of this book on my own connections to it. Fangirl is incredibly intuitive, it glides through the (short) storyline with ease, and the events draw out the perfect amount of empathy, sympathy and nostalgia. There is nothing obnoxious about this book, it is simple and pleasant and easy t0 read, and has a nice solid flow to it. Nothing really seems out of place and it feels quite natural, the way life generally flows, with ups and downs and busy and quiet. It has plenty to relate to, both for the introverts and extroverts of the world, perfectly represented in the twin protagonists Cath and Wren. The situations that unfold: partying, feeling alone, anxiety, teenage drinking, love, sex – all of these are made relatable through the eyes of the opposing views of the twins, and the other utterly believable characters around them, and that leads me to me next point…

FanGirlCOLOURWhat really makes this book is the characters. This is a bunch of characters a minimum of nine years younger than me, most of them closer to twelve years younger, and yet I can still relate to them all. (Perhaps it’s because I’m still so young at heart!) But there characters are real, and flawed and honest and not, and all of them human. They each make mistakes and sometimes deal with them poorly, they stumble and don’t always have exactly the right thing to say. The book does, indeed, read smoothly, but it has the expected jaggedness of a coming of age story, that stop/start kind of ebb that slowly pushes the protagonists to breaking point, to the point of change, where they learn something and grow up, just a little bit.

IamafangirlAt the end of it all, even though it was only a shirt journey with the characters as they transitioned from high school to college, and from freshmen to their second year, this was a delightful romp in a cute little world with some very likeable characters, the nerdy references made it all the more enjoyable for me, all the little in jokes that only a fellow nerd would get. Rainbow Rowell creates magic with the ease that this story, and even the Simon Snow stories within the story, read. I truly enjoyed this book, in fact, I devoured it in a day – and I haven’t done that with a book in a very, very long time.

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Popsugar 2015 Reading Challenge: A book by a female author

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