Be Mindful & Stress Less by Gina Biegel

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Completely helpful!
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for the opportunity to read and review Be Mindful & Stress Less by Gina M. Bigel!
The fifty ways to deal with your crazy life are broken down into parts. Pay attention with senses is part one, part two is self-care, part three is always consider other responses, and each of these focuses on how to handle stress, learning to be mindful of our surroundings and stress triggers and self-care. My favorite stress relief is to “just breathe”! So relaxing. Taking mindful pauses to keep stress in check and to become more aware of our responses to problems is a wonderful tip also. The 5 G’s, gratitude exercises to help express and experience gratitude, and encouragement to treat yourself with kindness are resourceful and beneficial advice sections. Wonderful book for dealing with life’s inevitable stresses, 5 stars!

Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder

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Touching realistic fiction!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review Letting Go of Gravity by Meg Leder! Parker and Charlie are twins. One of them is giving the Valedictorian speech at high school graduation and the other watches from the audience, not graduating because of being held back a year in school, due to a second bout with leukemia. Parker has her future set out for her and Charlie is tired of dealing with leukemia. At the same time, Charlie seems much more confident about what he’s feeling and what he wants compared to Parker, who has uncertainties about everything. Parker crosses paths with Finn, a friend from elementary school that she lost track of. Charlie acts like he has a death wish and it’s upsetting his family and friends so much that his parents send him to a cancer therapy support group. Parker thinks that Charlie hates her and she seems to keep making the same mistakes, over and over, that make him angry. Through the turmoil of figuring out their lives and futures, Parker and Charlie surprise each other with how similar they are but different at the same time. A touching realistic fiction story with Ruby and Finn, dynamic side characters that bring an extra level of maturity to the plot and story line. 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.

Every Note Played by Lisa Genova

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A heartwrenching and heartwarming realistic fiction story! Thanks to a Goodreads giveaway, I received Every Note Played by Lisa Genova! As the main characters and their lives are set up for the story, I’m interested and sad at the same time. You never know what life is going to bring your way and it made me remember and appreciate how good my life is. The book is difficult to read because the reader gets a bird’s eye view of what Richard is feeling, going through and ultimately losing because of ALS and his life regrets. This touching novel brings the reader into the life of someone diagnosed with ALS and includes all of the intimate details of his struggles with the disease and the relationships that have built him into the person he is. Ultimately a tale of forgiveness, Every Note Played opens our eyes to the patients, loved ones, patient care, technology and research based on ALS. The author put a lot of research and love into this novel and her notes are shared at the end of the book, along with stories of real ALS patients and the inspiration they have given to everyone they left behind, which are their legacies. ALS research continues and as Every Note Played was going to press, a new breakthrough occurred and was in a trial in Japan, giving hope and possible help to patients worldwide. 5 stars for this heart wrenching and heartwarming realistic fiction story!

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!