Review: Building a Life Worth LivingTitle: Building a Life Worth Living
Author: Marsha M. Linehan
Genre(s): Non-Fiction
Pages: 384
Source: Borrowed
For: Recommended
Rating:
Sexual Content: 0.5 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Marsha Linehan, PhD, ABPP, tells the story of her journey from suicidal teenager to world-renowned developer of the life-saving behavioral therapy DBT, using her own struggle to develop life skills for others.

My Thoughts

If you’re a frequenter of this blog, then you probably know my history…. I have been in therapy off and on since I was 16 to treat a myriad of problems–depression, anxiety, suicidal ideation, PTSD from sexual trauma, etc. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in 2020 and spent a week in the hospital in March 2021 for overdosing on lithium that my psychiatrist and therapist at the time recommended I find a DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) program. I graduated from that program in May 2022.

In one of my recent conversations with my current therapist (a DBT-trained PsyD), he recommended I read Marsha’s memoir. I had been struggling with depression and anhedonia due to health problems. Instead of using the skills I learned in DBT to help me cope with them, I started falling back into my old behaviors. I was severely discouraged, thinking I’d have to deal with the same mental health problems for the rest of my life. I wanted a magic pill to get rid of them for good.

You can’t think yourself into new ways of acting;
You only can act yourself into new ways of thinking.

Reading Marsha’s memoir was very eye-opening. Before I read her life story, I knew one thing about her–she developed the life-saving behavior therapy known as DBT. What I did not know is that she used her own struggles with depression, anxiety, self-harm urges, and suicidal ideation to develop these life skills to help others. She explained that when she clawed her way out of her own personal hell, she made a vow to God and herself that she’d find a way to help others out of their hells too.

She not only used science and research to create easy-to-use skills to help highly suicidal individuals, she also sought help from different spiritual advisors along the way. She, a devout Catholic, spent months in Zen monasteries, learning the skills of mindfulness, acceptance, and willingness.

She persevered through countless setbacks of invalidation from her parents and skepticism by colleagues. She endured sexism and outdated Freudian ideals in the psychological industry. And, she persisted in publishing her findings despite rejection after rejection due to being deemed a poor writer.

I’m so grateful she was so determined to fulfill her vow. DBT has changed my life. As I mentioned above, I still struggle with the same urges and extreme emotions I had before going through DBT. I also feel more confident in my ability to cope and work through my struggles. I know if I use the skills I’ve learned, I can build a life worth living.

Have you read BUILDING A LIFE WORTH LIVING? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for suicide, suicidal ideation, cutting, and institutionalization.

Review: The It GirlTitle: The It Girl
Author: Ruth Ware
Genre(s): Mystery, Thriller
Pages: 423
Source: Library
For: Personal Interest
Rating:
Sexual Content: 0.5 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

April Clarke-Cliveden was the first person Hannah Jones met at Oxford. Vivacious, bright, occasionally vicious, and the ultimate It girl, she quickly pulled Hannah into her dazzling orbit. Together, they developed a group of devoted and inseparable friends--Will, Hugh, Ryan, and Emily--during their first term. By the end of the second, April was dead.

My Thoughts

I knew if I wanted to get over my reading slump, I needed to read a thriller or a romance. I decided to go with a thriller and read THE IT GIRL by Ruth Ware.

THE IT GIRL’s my first book by Ruth Ware. I’ve heard great things about some of her other books and THE IT GIRL seems to be the new hottest thing.

The premise of THE IT GIRL really drew me in. I love dark academia and psychological thrillers. I loved reading why everything happened the way they did and what lead up to the main “thing.” I really enjoyed the split narrative: 10 years in the past when the “thing” happened and the present when some of the circumstances of the “thing” are questioned.

Don’t let yourself get caught up in what-ifs. That way madness lies.

I especially loved the setting of THE IT GIRL. Even though Pelham College is a fictitious college in Oxford, I loved experiencing how one of the most prestigious schools in the world functions. Oxford’s so different from anything I experienced in school here in the US. It was very interesting to learn more about the English education system.

The characters in THE IT GIRL were interesting to me. I didn’t like April very much. She was a spoiled rich girl with entitlement issues. I didn’t feel like her friendship with Hannah was very believable. I think April only “befriended” Hannah because Hannah was easy to manipulate. I thought Hannah was an okay character. I just wish she had more backbone and stuck up for herself more. I really liked Will, but I can’t say why.

THE IT GIRL’s ending was really good. I wasn’t disappointed in learning how it all came together. I’ll definitely give Ruth Ware another go.

Have you read THE IT GIRL? If so, what did you think?

Review: In a HolidazeTitle: In a Holidaze
Author: Christina Lauren
Genre(s): Fantasy, Holiday, Romance
Pages: 336
Source: Own
For: Book Club
Rating:
Sexual Content: 3 Flames

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Goodreads Synopsis

It’s the most wonderful time of the year ... but not for Maelyn Jones. She’s living with her parents, hates her going-nowhere job, and has just made a romantic error of epic proportions. But perhaps worst of all, this is the last Christmas Mae will be at her favorite place in the world--the snowy Utah cabin where she and her family have spent every holiday since she was born, along with two other beloved families. Mentally melting down as she drives away from the cabin for the final time, Mae throws out what she thinks is a simple plea to the universe: Please. Show me what will make me happy. The next thing she knows, tires screech and metal collides, everything goes black. But when Mae gasps awake, she’s on an airplane bound for Utah, where she begins the same holiday all over again.

My Thoughts

I’ve never been much of a Christmas or holiday book reader. I don’t really even watch holiday movies. Needless to say, I was a little bit hesitant about reading IN A HOLIDAZE by Christina Lauren. I decided to give it a go because it was my IRL book club’s pick for December and I really enjoyed THE UNHONEYMOONERS by the same duo.

I’m glad I decided to read IN A HOLIDAZE. I zipped right through it and it helped remind me why I love to read and romances at that. Friends-to-lovers is hands down my favorite romantic trope and Christina Lauren didn’t disappoint. The execution was excellently written, producing a bit of a steamy fast-paced romance.

I adored practically everything about IN A HOLIDAZE. I loved Maelyn Jones and her family, blood and found. I loved reading about their Christmas traditions in their cabin near Park City, Utah (which is only an hour from where I live). Because of the setting, it was especially fun to picture the mountains, snow, Christmas decorations, and the touristy beauty of my home state.

“This is Utah. Every family down here has a ‘Welcome Home’ sign. Missionaries, remember?”

I thought the Groundhog Day-esque “magic” of IN A HOLIDAZE was fun. It was a good reminder to seize the day and live your best life in spite of change, social faux-pas, and tradition for the sake of tradition.

Thanks to how much I enjoyed reading IN A HOLIDAZE, I’ll definitely give other holiday romances a try in the future.

Have you read IN A HOLIDAZE? If so, what did you think?

Review: Some of It was RealTitle: Some of It was Real
Author: Nan Fischer
Genre(s): Mystery, Romance
Pages: 352
Source: Own
For: Recommended
Rating:
Sexual Content: 3 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Sylvie Young, a psychic on the verge of stardom who isn’t sure she believes in herself and, Thomas Holmes, a cynical journalist with one last chance at redemption are brought together by secrets from the past. When Sylvie and Thomas collide, a game of cat and mouse ensues, but the secrets they’re keeping from each other are nothing compared to the mysteries and lies they unearth about Sylvie’s past.

My Thoughts

When I read Wendy’s review of SOME OF IT WAS REAL, I put it on hold at my local library right away. There was a little bit of a wait, but I finally got it and read it. I’m glad I did because I really enjoyed this book.

The enemies-to-lovers and forced proximity tropes are two of my favorites and SOME OF IT WAS REAL didn’t disappoint. The execution of the enemies-to-lovers trope was excellently written, producing a spicy slow-burn romance. Sylvie and Thomas’ constant worry of out-smarting the other while falling in love was a treat to read, and the cat and mouse game dynamic made the story fun and exciting.

I loved the inclusion of Sylvie’s beloved service dog, Moose. Even though as a Great Dane he comes across as a bit scary, he’s a lovable teddy bear. Thomas’ cat, Christopher Robin, reminded me of my Daxi-cat, who recently passed away due to old age. I loved Chris’ demeanor and her interactions with Moose. Each pet was written as a beloved companion, endearing me more to the two main characters and making SOME OF IT REAL a much richer story.

My memories are a nest of spiders suddenly caught in bright light. They skitter to dark corners.

SOME OF IT WAS REAL is a a heart-wrenching story that asks the reader to believe in something unseen. It’s also about love, acceptance, and truth. I’m glad I was a part of the journey to find out who Sylvie was. I thought the premise came across as realistic given the circumstances of her past. Skeptical at first like Thomas, the more I learned the more I believed in Sylvie as a person and a psychic-medium.

I would’ve given SOME OF IT WAS REAL 4.5 or 5 stars, but the ending wasn’t quite as satisfying as I wanted it to be. I did love the feeling of hope and how it coincided with believing in something intangible. View Spoiler »

Have you read SOME OF IT WAS REAL? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for loss of a parent and loss of a pet.

Review: The Good SisterTitle: The Good Sister
Author: Sally Hepworth
Genre(s): Romance, Thriller
Pages: 309
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Sexual Content: 2 Flames

Goodreads Amazon

There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights, and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be ... dangerous.

My Thoughts

I was really excited to read THE GOOD SISTER because my IRL friend Jenny recommended it to our book club and I usually enjoy the same type of thrillers she does. We decided to read it as September’s book and I’m glad we did so I’d read it sooner rather than later.

I loved THE GOOD SISTER. It was a fantastic story that kept me reading until I was done with the book. I saw the big twist coming a mile away; it didn’t ruin the suspense or story for me, though, because I still wanted to know how everything would play out. I wasn’t disappointed.

I really liked the characters in THE GOOD SISTER. I liked that even though I guessed the twist, I still kept wondering if I was right. I also loved that a couple of the main characters were neurodivergent. I have sensory issues, not to the extent Fern does, though. I really connected with that aspect of Fern’s character.

Angry is just a pen name for sad…. In my experience, nine times out of ten if you are kind to the angry person, you will calm them down and find out what is really going on with them.

I would’ve given THE GOOD SISTER 4 stars, except near the end Hepworth perpetuated the stigma that people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are violent psychopaths. BPD’s misunderstood even among the psychological community. Those trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) understand BPD the most. I simply wish she had talked to a DBT-trained psychologist or someone who’s diagnosed with BPD before she used BPD as one of the reasons why the antagonist did what they did.

I don’t think cancelling someone is the right answer, though, because it takes away from what’s important—educating as many people as possible to help break the stigma surrounding BPD and other mental illness. Because of this, I’ll continue to read and, most likely, enjoy Hepworth’s novels.

Have you read THE GOOD SISTER? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for sexual assault, loss of a child, and loss of a parent.