A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares by Krystal Sutherland

A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares

Krystal Sutherland

Krystal brings her trademark wit, hilarious imagination and on-point pop culture references to A Semi-Definitive List of Worst Nightmares, weaving a tale of romance and phobias that bends reality while poking fun at it.

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From the author of Our Chemical Hearts comes the hilarious, reality-bending tale of two outsiders facing their greatest fears about life and love—one debilitating phobia at a time.
Ever since Esther Solar’s grandfather was cursed by Death, everyone in her family has been doomed to suffer one great fear in their lifetime. Esther’s father is agoraphobic and hasn’t left the basement in six years, her twin brother can’t be in the dark without a light on, and her mother is terrified of bad luck.
The Solars are consumed by their fears and, according to the legend of the curse, destined to die from them.
Esther doesn’t know what her great fear is yet (nor does she want to), a feat achieved by avoiding pretty much everything. Elevators, small spaces and crowds are all off-limits. So are haircuts, spiders, dolls, mirrors and three dozen other phobias she keeps a record of in her semi-definitive list of worst nightmares.
Then Esther is pickpocketed by Jonah Smallwood, an old elementary school classmate. Along with her phone, money and a fruit roll-up she’d been saving, Jonah also steals her list of fears. Despite the theft, Esther and Jonah become friends, and he sets a challenge for them: in an effort to break the curse that has crippled her family, they will meet every Sunday of senior year to work their way through the list, facing one terrifying fear at a time, including one that Esther hadn’t counted on: love.

Advance Galley Reviews

I thought this was going to be a book that I could enjoy but I didn't. It took so long and I kept putting it off the link expired. I usually love my first to read books but lately the books and the excerpts aren't adding up. Or maybe I just need to take a break. Someone may like this book it just wasn't my taste.

I struggled with this one... I read ebooks on Kindle and while most of the First to Read files convert well, this one did not - there are random line breaks and line numberings and even missing letters, which made the reading a bit challenging. On top of that, there is the story itself - I really liked the beginning, and was initially charmed by Esther and Jonah's tale. The crippling phobias that plague her family and her life were intriguing and the writing was full of banter and very engaging. Then, somehow, it just lost me... I don't know where or why, but I suddenly found myself skimming paragraphs and setting the book aside for others. Sometimes a book can bring me back in when that happens, but unfortunately this one never did and ultimately I gave up on it. I can't point to anything that was wrong or troubling, beyond the formatting, but ultimately the book and I were just not a good fit.

I really thought I was going to like this book after reading the excerpt. Once I sat down to actually read the book, it just didn't click with me. This is not to say that someone else wouldn't find it a good book, I just didn't.

I received that ARC for this book and it spoke to me in so many ways. I struggle with anxiety and depression and have many friends and family members who do as well. I felt as though the author captured these mental illnesses wonderfully. I laughed, I cried, and I smiled throughout most of the story. I look forward to reading her first book and hope that she continues to write beautiful stories like this one.

This book is so many things. It's so funny that I was laughing out loud often which is embarrassing in public, but I couldn't help it. I mean, Jonah named his kitten Fleayonce. Tell me that's not funny. It showcases characters who are not average or stereotypically pretty and have really unique interests. It's serious and addresses mental illnesses. How hard it is to live with them and how sometimes it's hard to love someone who suffers from one. It talks about conquering fears and about family relationships. I just cannot say enough good things about this book. Easily one of the best books I've read in 2017.

Marvelous. Krystal Sutherland is a genius. From the moment I started reading I couldn't put the book down. I have fears and phobias just like anyone else, but I have never read a book that so perfectly describes the helplessness and trapped feeling. You know your fear is irrational but you just can't get beyond it. The only time I put the book down was to dry my eyes. It's almost like someone else really does understand your pain. They don't just see the outside, they see YOU. Brilliant!!!

Thanks FTR for the advanced readers copy of the book. O I loved this book. I read this the same month as All the bright places so the plot seemed similar but the execution and character sketch was so different. It's a coming of age book with so many characters and yet it all tied up fine at the end, I was a bit wary of the magic in the book but now that it's over I want to read it again! 3.5 stars.

I've never read a book quite like this before, and it was almost as if I was selected to read this one and especially meant to read it because of some issues that connected with me on a personal level. I knew nothing about it beforehand, which sometimes is the best way to go into a book, and ended up absolutely loving it. It made me laugh, it made me cry. It made me want to write down lines as quotes. It made me think of someone in my past that I've lost and I have grieved over for years. The cover alone has a cat on it (I know, I know, don't judge a book by its cover). There are some HUGE issues running through the core of this beautiful, original book about a young girl called Esther being encouraged to face her fears by an amazing young man called Jonah (yes, how lucky is she?), so be forewarned: along with all the fears and phobias that are brought up, there are major issues of abuse, depression, suicidal ideation, self-harm, mental-illness (all that can encourage conversation, and I'm really glad the author Krystal put an afterword about some of this in the back of the book). There are big triggers in the book. That said, I feel as though the story is a beautiful testament to how a dysfunctional family like this and facing fears like Esther does (as well as looking Death in the face) is really what was needed to do to turn their lives around. It's not all doom and gloom; this story is about looking fear in the face and telling Death 'it's not my time yet'. I don't always enjoy books with overly 'quirky' characters but these ones all felt so genuine in their quirkiness: Esther with her different outfits, her mom Rosemary and her hippie-like existence, her agoraphobic father...they all are. Even Fleyonce the kitty (who at first I was very upset about, but that's another essay). The Man that Would be Death caps that list off. And then there's Esther falling in love with someone she's known since grade school, who goes through this list with her, honestly and earnestly. There are so many amazing, unique elements about this wonderful story; I won't forget it any time soon. Every time I had to stop reading, I couldn't wait to continue. My biggest complaint is that I only had a digital copy. I most certainly need to own this amazing book.

Everyone has fears that, on some level, rules us. Fear of flying, of spiders, and like Esther, fear of ones self. And like Esther, people are born into or come into our lives in order to help us grow. With Jonah, Esther faces her fears in such a way that you can't help but want to cheer her on. Couple all that with a quirky tale of The Man Who Would Be Death, a suicidal twin, a mute best friend, and a brain damaged cat, you get a oddly interesting, slightly depressing, but always entertaining story that successfully starts a conversation on mental illness, forgiveness and love.

Did not read. Thank you cor the Advnace copy.

How can anyone not love this book? Esther, Heph, Eugene, and Jonah are wonderful dynamic characters. It was such a great story of overcoming your fears and facing the challenges in your life. I think the author really wanted to make sure the readers knew that your life is what you make of it and how you face your fears. It doesn't make you any better than anyone else, it just means you are on your own path and you can do and be who you want. I was so glad when Esther finally faced her fears after her grandfather, Reg, died. I love the fact that the characters in this novel were flawed and they knew it. What a great way to really bring to light mental illness and the affects it has on the whole family. Will definitely recommend to my reader friends!

**4/5** This book was much better than I was expecting. It was heartfelt, witty, and touched on heavy topics such as depression, anxiety, suicidal tendencies and mental illness. It was a story about facing your fears and overcoming obstacles, growing as a person and coming to terms with loving the un-perfect people in life. 17 year old Esther Solar makes a list when she is younger - 50 thing that scare her. 50 fears to stay away from because any one of those could be the thing she fears most. According to her grandfather, their family was cursed by death to be consumed by 1 single greatest fear and ultimately die from it and so far her grandfather, father, mother and twin brother are living proof. Each person in her family has a fear of their own that has taken over their lives and changed them drastically. Esther, with the help of a pesky grade school friend- Jonah Smallwood, is out to face her fears one at a time and find a way to face Death himself to lift the curse from her crumbling family. This book is in the eyes of Esther and she believes her grandfathers stories..no matter how tall of a tale they may seem. But was it really the curse from Death or just mental illness that runs in the family? This book leaves you to decide that on your own. I absolutely enjoyed being left to make my own conclusion and happy I had the chance to read this rare gem of a YA novel. Books regarding mental illness are usually not my favorite because they are often unrealistic, romanticized or very sad. This book left me feeling hopeful, happy and was just the right amount of realistic with some magic thrown in. The characters were humanly flawed, insightful, inspiring and easy to love. I'd highly recommend to older young adult readers.

One of the best books I've read all year! Whether dealing with drama or comedy, the story maintained a refreshing quirkiness throughout. When a book makes me laugh out loud, I know I've found something special. But I also appreciated the more serious aspects of the story and felt they were handled well. I read this book in under eight hours, due in no small part to the fact that the writing flowed so well.

This was a surprisingly-solid (the cover is deceptively-fluffy) YA supernatural-y book dealing with depression, suicidal ideation, and OCD, but most of all, anxiety. It follows Esther Solar, whose family is cursed by Death, as she tries to support everyone else while she's coping with her own anxiety and trying not to fall in love with a disappearing/reappearing boy from her childhood. Sunderland does a great job of depicting what anxiety is like, both in the plot and the writing (it's punctuated by lists Esther doggedly keeps). The ending perfectly and insistently avoids the saccharine - unusual for a YA read, especially a love story. There's also a mental health note and resource guide at the end for teen readers. The book is not perfect, and I did question why the black character is the only one in the novel who has an explicitly-identified race, and thought Sunderland could have done a better job at the conversation around why it's not ok to use the word "retarded" than just "it's politically incorrect," although maybe she could get a pass under a "realistic adolescent-speak" exception. But I'd still recommend this book, even with these two cringe-y moments, especially for teenagers (or adults) dealing with anxiety, or anyone who supports someone with anxiety. Thanks to Penguin Random House First to read for the advance copy.

I liked the story, the way it handles mental health issues and how it affects the family is really good.

I was given an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I honestly loved this book. This is a YA book that sheds light on family dynamics regarding mental illness and coping in teenagers. I don't really know how realistic it all is as this isn't my story, but it is very believable. Esther is a teenager born into a family where every member is cursed to die of their greatest fear. Esther doesn't know hers, so she makes a list of things she's afraid of. Jonah finds her list and helps her face every far. This book is quirky, laugh-out-loud funny, heartbreaking, and heartwarming. As an aside, I always love an author that can do a good job of creating a persona of Death. This one is very well done.

I loved this book. Quirky, fun and well developed characters that showcased love, loyalty and strength. This book is full of a variety of mental illnesses but handles them in a serious but imaginative way. I didn't want it to end. Esther meets a former classmate at a bus stop, where he picks her pockets, relieving her of her phone, cash and a fruit roll-up, which oddly enough leads to a relationship. Jonah (the thief) helps Esther face her fears, a whole long list of them. In the hopes that she can meet death and have the curse he placed on her family removed. In the end she must face her biggest fear.

I really enjoyed this book, and thought it was beautifully written. I do believe that this novel handle the topic of mental illness and fears very well. The characters were definitely memorable and worked well together to make this book complete. I would definitely recommend this.

Although this is a YA, it's the perfect weekend easy read for anybody. I loved the whimsical presentation of family, friendship, bullying, mental health, fears and death with a dash of humor and contemporary references. Anxiety is gaining terrain in the new generation's lives and with these amazing characters you will surely feel inspired to combat your quotidian demons. As a young adult and adult it's hard sometimes to see the light at the end of the tunnel, but reading and reading this book will definitely light some switches.

I really enjoyed this book and the quirky characters and the odd reactions to family problems. The Solar family is cursed by Death, as in The Reaper, each to have a phobia that will ultimately lead to their death. Esther meets an old classmate, Jonah, who pickpockets her phone, cash and Fruit Roll that leads to a relationship and novel way to beat the curse by overcoming her fears. Funny, outrageous and also heartbreaking progress as she and Jonah go on adventures that just might help Esther and her family breakthrough their stagnant, obsessive lifestyle. Definitely recommend for a fun yet insightful read.


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