Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather

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This book still brings tears to my eyes, just thinking about it.  A truly touching story dealing with tough issues!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Learning to Breathe by Janice Lynn Mather. Indy comes from a dysfunctional family except for her loving grandmother who would do anything for her, but she’s not always close enough to help and doesn’t own a phone. Indy has been sexually abused and ended up pregnant and she feels alone, with no one to turn to. She’s living with her Uncle, his wife and her two cousins. Her Uncle cares for her but he’s gone a lot on business. Aunt Patrice treats Indy with disgust. Her cousin Smiley is friendly to Indy but busy being a teenage girl. Her cousin Gary is the one who abuses Indy. This story holds many messages in its pages: you don’t know who you can trust; don’t judge quickly or make assumptions; there are good people in the world; perseverance and resilience are important skills; friends can be found in the most unexpected places and your choices are your own to make. Truly a touching story dealing with some tough issues, 4 stars!

 

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

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A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas opens as Feyre is trying to come to terms with the violence she endured and the choices she made Under the Mountain in helping rid the Faerie world of Amarantha. Tamlin proposed to Feyre, so planning their wedding has become a daily activity and she’s grateful for the help of Ianthe, a visiting High Priestess. On Tamlin and Feyre’s wedding day, Rhys bursts in and breaks up the celebration before vows are given. Rhys is there to claim the deal of Feyre spending one week out of every month with him in the Night Court. His first mission is for Feyre to learn how to read. Rhysand is priceless, with his lackadaisical attitude, cleverness and charm. He’s also showing tremendous patience, especially when he seems so alone. Tamlin has kept secrets from Feyre and has trapped her inside his manor, making her feel like a prisoner. Because of this, Feyre had an extremely dark, strong panic attack and Rhys’ cousin Mor saved her and brought her to Rhys. She’s now a resident of the Night Court. Rhysand made Feyre the Emissary to the Human Realm because she is a human that died and was given life by the seven High Fae Lords and will hopefully help bridge and build human-faerie relations. Rhys has given Feyre a specific mission to find and retrieve a special, hidden book that can give extreme power to the wielder. Rhys and Feyre become closer as they adjust to each other and try to overcome the evil threat to the Fae and Human Realms. A sequel full of action and suspense, A Court of Mist and Fury adds tremendous depth to this series and I cannot wait to start reading the next book; a well-earned 5 stars!

Where the Sea Takes Me by Heidi R. Kling

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Brilliant and eye-opening!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Where the Sea Takes Me by Heidi R. Kling!
Sienna has just finished college finals and is planning a Team Hope trip to Cambodia. Her friend, Spider, wants to make their relationship more than just friends and Sienna isn’t too sure about that idea. Her father knocks her off her feet when he calls to tell her that Deni will be visiting soon. Deni, as in the Deni that Sienna fell in love with two years ago and who she helped recover from the tsunami in Indonesia on her last Team Hope relief trip. Deni arrives and he and Sienna fall instep with each other and Spider doesn’t quite know how to handle the situation. Team Hope travels to Cambodia on a long ride and Sienna has her eyes opened wide to the beautiful country torn apart by war, poverty and sex trafficking. The Cambodian people have extreme perseverance and are living in the results of Pol Pot’s destruction. Realistic fiction, adventure and history create the story and a touch of romance brings it all forward. Where the Sea Takes Me is a brilliant, eye-opening read, 5 stars!

Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris

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Wonderfully informative and humorous guide to Meditation.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics by Dan Harris and Jeff Warren. I chuckled at the Table of Contents and how accurate the section and chapter titles were when applied to human nature. Some of the headings are “I Don’t Have Time for This”, “If I Get Too Happy, I’ll Lose My Edge” and “People Might Think I’m Weird”. So great and opens up the path for humor in its pages. I was excited to discover the app that accompanies the instructional meditation given in this book. The commentary is full of humor and deals with thoughts that swirl through our minds as we try to relax and meditate. Short and easily doable meditations are introduced along with helpful, concise cheat sheets. I love the “RAIN”, “Walking Through Sound” and “Ten Good Breaths”! This quote captures the true essence of this practical and useful book, “Meditation is basically the end of boredom.” I was surprised and disturbed by the results of the study “Pandora’s Box” where people were left alone in a room with no stimulus, except a button that produced an electric shock. Many of the participants chose to give themselves electric shocks because of their discomfort of being quietly alone. Wonderfully informative instructional guide on meditation for anyone who wants to try but is skeptical of meditating, 5 stars!

Graceful Exit by Gustavo Ferrer, M.D.

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Thanks to NetGalley and Sounds True Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Graceful Exit by Gustavo Ferrer, M.D. This self-help guide opens with advice and explanations on getting a proxy written up for medical treatment if you or your loved one cannot speak for yourself. Full of sound advice and needed information on the process of dealing with death and how to help take care of terminally ill loved ones. Includes information on healthcare options and how to handle the stress that goes along with this difficult part of life. Recently having been a part of this with my husband’s family, this book will be helpful for all family members involved, 5 stars.

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan

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Family members left behind after a suicide face deep pain. Resources offering real help are included in this book! Thanks to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Astonishing Color of After! The main character saw her mother’s suicide and believes that her mother has visited her as a bird. No one believes her even though she has physical evidence. Her and her father visit her maternal grandparents in Taiwan and even though they don’t speak much English, they believe that the bird is true. This book is difficult to categorize into a genre, but even though it has supernatural happenings throughout the story, I feel that this is still, above all, a realistic fiction tale. The deep pain that survivors of suicidal family members face is a real problem and an intense struggle that hasn’t been addressed as much as it’s needed. The Astonishing Color of After helps! Resources are included towards the end of the book for various needs of those dealing with depression, loss, suicide and/or suicidal thoughts. The resources are categorized under the following headings: Suicide Prevention, For Suicide Loss Survivors and Understanding Mental Illness. The cultural education and coping skills made the story more interesting and I love Axel and the great friend that he is to Leigh and I appreciate the author’s honesty about her own experiences of being a suicide survivor. 4 stars!