Turtles All the Way Down

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Turtles All the Way Down by John Green opens with Aza as she struggles with self-confidence and feeling like she never belongs. Her best friend and support is Daisy and the two of them set out to earn a reward for finding a missing billionaire. This mystery brings more interest to the story and the dynamic characters are fun, humorous and entertaining as well deep thinking. The three main characters, Aza, Daisy and Davis all bring a lot of interest to the story plus the side characters add an extra depth. I appreciate how John Green portrays mental illness with realism and deeply detailed prose. The author’s note at the end offers insight into his own personal struggles and also help and hotline information. 5 stars for a great portrayal of the human mind and its struggles!

The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review The Rattled Bones by S.M. Parker. Rilla lives with her grandmother. After her father dies, she’s unsure about college because she worries about leaving her grandmother and she wants to keep her father’s fishing business going. The story is a bit odd but starts to pick up around chapter four when Rilla meets Sam on the small island where he’s doing research on an archeological dig. Sam knows about the Malaga Island history and he shares his research with Rilla. Rilla is worried that she’s following her mother’s footsteps because she’s seeing a ghost and hearing her voice. Rilla’s mother talked to the water people and she left her family when Rilla was very young because she wanted to keep her family safe. All Rilla knows about her mother is that she waded into the ocean with heavy rocks in her pockets weighing her down and then she admitted herself into a mental institution. Rilla has kept the apparition to herself and continues to do so until she grows comfortable enough with Sam to confide in him. She also needs his help to keep herself safe and to figure out the ghostly mystery. Little by little, the two of them piece together the visions and the island’s history and uncover a tragic event that connects Rilla and her family to Malaga Island. I love it when authors share their research with readers and explain their reasoning behind the story they’ve created. When a book is based on historical facts, I always want to dive into the research and study the truth that helped create the fiction. 4 stars for an intriguing story that pulled me into a lesser known part of American history.

When Time is a River by Susan Clayton-Goldner

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When Time is a River by Susan Clayton-Goldner is a mystery for adults and young adults alike. The story begins with Brandy in the office of a plastic surgeon. She’s suffering from the results of an accident that has changed her face and she wants to look like she used to. She’s babysitting her two-and-a-half-year-old half sister, Emily, at the park during a community Teddy Bear Picnic and while Brandy is in the bathroom stall, someone takes Emily! She overheard Emily talking about Pooh Bear not taking a nap and the detective found flat shoe prints in the restroom. Two witnesses claimed to have seen Emily with a Pooh Bear getting into a car. I didn’t imagine the turn of events that unfolded as the mystery progressed. The unpredictability built suspense and my appreciation for the author’s ability to spin a riveting story! An impressive mystery that is part of the Redemption Lake series but can be read as a stand alone book also. 5 stars for a perfect mystery!

I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.

A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind by Emily Reynolds

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Thanks to NetGalley and SOURCEBOOKS (non-fiction) for the opportunity to read and review A Beginner’s Guide to Losing Your Mind by Emily Reynolds! This helpful and down to earth book involves diagnosis, self-care, dating, education, self-harm and suicide, family and friends, the Internet and recovery and relapse as the chapters listed in the table of contents. The introduction describes the author’s personal experiences of depression and what she went through before diagnosis. This down to earth book offers realistic advice, help and ideas of how to overcome and maintain mental illness. The author shares everything to help others that are struggling and to encourage those that feel like there’s no hope. The book also includes a list of resources and hotlines for help and getting questions answered; breathing and relaxation exercises as well as ideas for a mood diary. I feel that teenagers could benefit from this helpful book and I plan on purchasing it for the library. 5 stars.

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

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Thanks to NetGalley and Disney-Hyperion for the opportunity to read and review A List of Cages by Robin Roe! Julian doesn’t feel as though he belongs anywhere, at school or at home where he lives with his uncle. He likes to hide in a small secret room behind the school stage where he can be alone and no one knows where he is. I immediately felt protective of Julian and hated how people assumed that he was stupid and treated him horribly. He’s had a tragic past and he’s presently living in an unhappy world. Adam knows Julian because his family fostered him for a while after the death of his parents until Julian’s Uncle Russell stepped into their lives and took Julian away. Uncle Russell is a force to be reckoned with and has more issues than anyone realizes. This tragic and touching realistic fiction story earns 5 stars!

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

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Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow! A young woman named Charlie is found outside a hospital, hurt and alone. She’s treated in the hospital for seven days and then is taken to a psychiatric ward. She has cut herself to cope with the struggles in her life. She’s released from the ward and tries to get through it all one day at a time, and sometimes one moment at a time, while she finds a place to live and a job. Her social circle grows and she finds herself dealing with other’s problems and she wants to move forward not backwards. Girl in Pieces is a true pay-it-forward story and the author relays her own story and shares resources with readers at the end of the book. A deep, complex story as raw and realistic as life gets. 5 stars for this young adult realistic fiction story that’s inspiring and eye-opening.

Made You Up by Francesca Zappia

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Made you up by Francesca Zappia- Alex goes through each day trying to figure out what is a hallucination and what is real. She keeps her schizophrenia hidden from everyone and deals with it secretly and on her own, besides her family and her therapist. This book contains completely endearing and realistic characters with clever writing and interesting background building. Laugh-out-loud funny at times and empathetic at others, as well as heart-breaking, Made You Up is a must read realistic fiction story with food for thought; 5 stars. The minute I finished reading it, I wanted to turn around and read it all again.

Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi

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Thanks to NetGalley and Kids Can Press for the opportunity to read and review Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turrisi! Kai and her parents are consumed with grief over the suicide of her sister Jen. I like how the story covers their grief and how each of them handles everything differently from finding Jen, her letters to each family member, the funeral preparations, their relationships with others and work and school when they try to get back to “normal”. All of this is covered in the first half of the book then Kai hits rock bottom and her friends and family don’t know how to help her, so she’s sent to a grief camp. This turns out to be the best possible choice. Small group discussions and activities help the teenagers learn how to move forward without forgetting the loved ones they have lost. Helping others seems to be the best way to overcome sadness because of thinking about someone else instead of just yourself heals broken hearts. I’m impressed with this book, the realistic feel of it, and I fell in love with the characters and wanted them to heal. The background of the story is interesting also and I appreciate the author being willing to share her personal experiences along with her pain. The resources included at the end will help many readers know where to find the help they need; 5 stars for a beautiful story of experiencing loss and the hope that brings light back into our lives.

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven

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I voluntarily read and reviewed an ARC of this book.
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Children’s for the opportunity to read and review All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven. All the Bright Places cannot be described with one word. This book is tremendous in heartbreak, coping skills, love, loss and grabbing life and enjoying it while you can! The best line of the book is on page 23, “Some people hate him because they think he’s weird and he gets into fights and gets kicked out of school and does what he wants. Some people worship him because he’s weird and he gets into fights and gets kicked out of school and does what he wants.” This statement sums up the reputation of Theodore Finch. Finch is a mystery to everyone. Finch and Violet share the narrative through alternating points of view. Finch struggles with depression and Violet suffers from survivor’s guilt. Violet’s sister died in a car accident not long before the story begins. The awkwardness and humor between Finch and Violet pulled me into the story and made me love both of their characters! When the two were paired together for a class project, their lives intermingled in many ways and they helped each other grow and enjoy life. All the Bright Places is a beautiful story of loss, love and what comes after. I appreciate that the author approached the stigma of needing help and the people we all know as fakers. The author’s notes were soul bearing for her and she discussed difficult topics that tend to be overlooked in our society; way to face the tough parts of human nature! 5 stars for this highly recommended book.

The Edge of Brilliance by Susan Traugh

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Received an advance reader copy in exchange for a fair review.
Thanks to YA Bound Book Tours for the opportunity to read and review The Edge of Brilliance by Susan Traugh. Amy suffers from bipolar disorder and she’s worried that taking her prescriptions and attending therapy will make people think she’s crazy. The author’s note is touching and genuine and explains how the story is loosely based on true experiences and she gives hope to anyone struggling with mental illness. The story takes us through Amy’s ups and downs and the statistics after the epilogue are eye-opening. 4 stars for this helpful and informative realistic fiction story!