Cover Image: Never Been Better

Never Been Better

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Member Reviews

This book shines a light on the struggles that come with mental illness but still maintained a lighthearted vibe. The tropical setting was fun, but I am not into love triangles so I took a star away for that. But overall would recommend this.

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First, I have to say this was not what I was expecting at all. Not my typical genre, I guess I didn't read what it was about and jumped right in. I kept expecting it to be a thriller. That said, it is a beautifully written book, about a very tough subject for some to talk or even read about...mental health. While being wrapped around the subject of mental health, it was also a very fun read, I definitely laughed and cried at times. Well done!
Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and author for the chance to read this advanced copy.

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Dee is off to Turks for the wedding of her two friends, Misa and Matt. The three of them met in the psych ward and are still navigating life post hospitalization a year later. What does it mean to have your life together, how do you keep from comparing your journey with someone else’s and how do you speak up when you need help are all deeply embedded in this story of friendship and self-discovery. What I liked was there was no sugar coating the grittiness of life. There were a few parts that help a bit long and dragging but it also mirrors the mind a bit when it’s processing in a neurodivergent way.

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This book is about navigating mental illness, love, and real life. It's never easy, to stare down the worst parts about oneself, but Dee has to if she wants to get through the revolving door that is her life. After attempting suicide, Dee finds herself in a mental institution for treatment. While there, she meets Matt and Misa who become her two best friends and her entire motivation for getting better. The two of them fall in love in front of Dee, who has done her best to keep her feelings for Matt on the down low this entire time. Now engaged, Dee is invited to Matt and Misa's wedding one year after her discharge. She sets out on a mission to quietly sabotage the wedding and win Matt's love, but her plan quickly falls apart when she comes face to face with how she's truly doing on her road to recovery.

This book was a very honest peek into the mind of someone battling mental health issues. The protagonist has bipolar disorder, and is constantly at war with her emotions, her self, and her treatment plan. She wants to be better, but she doesn't know how. She wants to be loved, but she pushes everyone away out of fear and self hate. She realizes she is stuck holding onto a fantasy to protect herself from reality. Having been diagnosed with depression and anxiety, a lot of her internal dialogue hits home. I saw a lot of myself before I got diagnosed in Dee.

What I loved most about this book, however, was the sister Tilley. She's the voice of reason and Dee's biggest advocate. Despite her own burnout, her love shines through every action she makes. That type of unconditional care is what one needs to have when at their worst. It's what every sick person fears never finding -- that everyone will get tired and leave because of their mental illness. I know I feared that and self sabotaged a fair bit when I was at my sickest. But luckily, my husband is a lot like Tilley.

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Dee is an interesting character who keeps you turning the pages throughout this book! I enjoyed reading it.

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I was intrigued by the premise of this book & after reading it, I’m glad I did! I really enjoyed the mental health representation & seeing how it was portrayed with the characters. While I couldn’t necessarily personally relate to the MC, it felt like her life could be relatable. Overall I just wanted a little more from the story itself.

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I didn’t love it, but didn’t hate it. I felt like this was an unrealistic tale of life in and out of a psychiatric facility.

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🧍🏻‍♀️🧍🏻🧍🏻‍♀️
📖Review
4🌟🌟🌟🌟
📖Book 12/100
📚Never Been Better
💫Genre: Fiction
✍️Authors:
Leanne Toshiko Simpson

📝Synopsis 📝
Misha, Matt, and Dee build a friendship at the psychiatric hospital and once out two of them decide to tie the knot. Only problem is Dee is in love with Matt too, and her mission is to stop that wedding from happening. She decides to take them up on an offer and travel to an island in which the wedding will take place. Will this be a good vacation or a bad vacation? Will she get the guy she loves or let her best friend marry him???

My thoughts 💭
This book gave me My Best Friend’s Wedding mixed with Girl Interrupted vibes. It was more general fiction than romance and essentially focused on character development. It had me laughing with so many quirky things happening because our girl Dee is a hot mess and falling apart. I enjoyed that it had a happy ending for all, but I loved that it focused so much on mental health and self love. I adored all the characters especially Tilley😆 If you want an off beat story that focuses on love, friendship, and mental health, this is for you🫶🏻
✨✨✨✨✨
Trigger Warnings⚠️
Depression
Suicidal Thoughts
Suicidal Tendencies
Mental Health

🩵Thank you so much @netgalley and @penguinbooks for approving this eARC in exchange for an honest review.

✨Publishing Date:
March 5, 2024

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A delightful new take on a classic rom-com trope that manages to delicately handle complicated mental health conditions. I’ve never before read such difficult issues explained in a lighthearted way. Truly a delight to read.

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⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ out of 5 for Never Been Better by Leanne Toshiko Simpson. Dee, Misa and Matt met at a Canadian public healthcare hospital in-patient mental health unit. The three bonded, with Dee falling in love with Matt and Matt and Misa falling in love. Fast-forward one year, and now Misa and Matt are getting married at a ritzy destination wedding.

Dee feels like she is barely holding it together but feels compelled to attend the wedding. She and her sister travel to the wedding… and can she cope?

I enjoyed the book, characters and plot. I appreciate the care and attention given to mental health challenges— and the importance of support for those encountering those challenges.

Thank you to the author, GP Putnam’s Sons/Penguin Group Putnam, and NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for my honest opinions.

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I liked the plot of this book, but the writing styles was terribly confusing for me and I had a hard time keeping everything straight. I couldn't relate to the characters much, but the motivations were also not fully fleshed out so it was difficult to connect with anyone. I was also very worried for the characters and the chaotic choices were hard to read about.

Thank you for the ARC! I think some readers will connect with this story really well!

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Dee, Miss, and Matt became fast friends when they met in a psychiatric ward- ironically forming a strong bond while each of them were separately falling apart.

A year later, Matt and Misa are about to get married, and Dee is conflicted. Part of her wants to be happy for her friends, but another part of her still holds a torch for Matt, secretly hoping he will realize he’s meant to be with her instead.

At their destination wedding, the trio find themselves reliving the moments that initially brought them together. But Dee’s conflicting feelings only increase. Given her history of mental instability, can Dee even trust herself to know what’s right?

Never Been Better is a unique take on your typical rom com, blending in milestones of mental illness. Debut author, @leannetoshiko does a good job of honoring both aspects of the story, one never overshadowing the other.

Although mental illness is no joking matter, Never Been Better manages to mix witticism with mental well being rather well.

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3.5 stars rounded down!

This was a story with a lot of emotions that centered around Dee's struggles with mental health and her time in in-patient care. I appreciated that the story seemed true to real life experiences with mental health — it wasn't romanticized, at times it was really messy and complicated, and characters did not allow other characters to use their struggles as excuses or weapons. There was accountability and self-reflection, as well as personal growth for some characters, but the story overall was just kind of ... boring. This was mostly introspective, and less plot-driven, which is okay! Just not what I was expecting.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a DRC in exchange for my honest review.

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4/5 - I’ve never read a book quite like this. A bit melancholy, thoughtful, emotional and tender - but also very quirky and fun - this was a story about self acceptance and love. I was most impressed by the lyrical prose combined with intricate, descriptive and honest inner dialogue of someone with bipolar disorder.

As someone who knows the experience of having a loved one with mental illness, I found this story to be accurate, brutal and beautiful. The fact that the author is bipolar and started writing this story during her own hospital stay made my experience as a reader even more profound. And don’t get me wrong, while there are upsetting and heartbreaking parts, the story is also quirky, hilarious, VERY messy and a joy to read. The characters!!! All winners. And what a community.

This is such a wonderful world and a meaningful journey. Can’t wait to read more from Simpson!

Thank you to @netgalley, Putnam and Leanne Toshiko Simpson for an ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. Out now!

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This was a really fun and entertaining book for me. I enjoyed reading it, and I didn’t struggle getting through the book.

It was one of those quick and easy books where you find yourself basically flying through the pages.

I love finding books on NetGalley that introduce me to new authors I might not have found otherwise.

I’m looking forward to read more books by this author.

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A trio of friends who met in a mental health hospital are the center of this moving and witty story of a wedding week in the tropics. I appreciate the advocacy of mental health awareness and the characters were well rounded with highs and lows. The sister of one, Tilley was my favorite do or die sidekick. A little preachy and a lot relatable. The author's story is as interesting.

Copy provided by the publisher and netgalley

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There is so much to unwrap in this book. It’s a romance, but so much more. It’s witty, silly, smart and honest all while tackling the heavy subject matter of mental illness with kindness, intellect, humor and grace. Three people meet while in the psychiatric ward. They fast connect and become friends. When two of the three announce their wedding, the third doesn’t take it too well. Let the games begin. The author has woven a wonderful story that references the then and now in a way that kept me glued to me seat. I was shocked, in the best way to realize this was her debut novel. I anxiously await what comes next from this truly talented author.

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Ok wow this book was one of the most beautiful raw stories I have read. I feel like everyone should read this story because it shows a glimpse what is like living as a bipolar person. I didn't know a lot about bipolar personalities, but I also have seen people have a common misconception of it being split personalities.

Even though I myself am not bipolar I did still find a lot of the story relatable. How many of us have just struggled with the simple concept of getting out of bed, and leaving our house. I know I have.

The way this story was written was just so well done. I felt deeply with all the emotions the characters were experiencing. The side characters were deeply fleshed out and had a purpose.

I truly think everyone should read this story especially if you have ever compared bipolar being a Jekyll and Hyde. I also love stories where you can tell the author has been through these feelings and isn't just simply writing about it.

Thank you Netgalley for this arc.

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Wonderful story for everyone to enjoy. I received an ARC of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher. All opinions expressed in this review are my own and given freely. Happy reading!

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I received a copy of Never Been Better from NetGalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.

Matt and Misa met each other in a psych ward and fell in love, but they also have a friend Dee, who is also secretly in love with Matt. The novel is from Dee's perspective and takes place as she and her sister are going to Matt and Misa's wedding week in Turks and Caicos. There are things I really like about this novel -- the subject matter of mental illness is handled deftly, with kindness, reverence, but also not overly heavy. I also liked the dynamics between Matt, Misa, and Dee. And this is a unique story -- I haven't read anything like this before.

However, the whole book is a bit of a hot mess plot-wise (which I think is intentional). Dee and her sister Tilley drink so much I'm surprised they didn't die of alcohol poisoning during the book. Also Misa and Matt have two friend/family members, Kei and Vik, who even though they are very different characters, it took me until about 70% through to remember who was who. I wasn't able to clearly picture the characters in my mind, and I also thought it was kind of strange how the flashbacks were fully written in italics. In general I had a hard time being able to picture the characters. There were some laugh out loud moments and hijinks, but it just felt chaotic more often than not. The pacing felt slow and it took me awhile to complete the book.

If you're looking for a fun rom com - this isn't it. If you're looking for a serious book about mental health - this isn't it. If you're looking for a chaotic plot with exposure to bipolarism - this is it.

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