Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

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Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett addresses several difficult topics with boldness and knowledge.  Simone was born HIV positive and she lives with her loving, adoptive parents, Dave and Paul, who she calls Dad and Pops. Simone recently moved to the school she’s now attending, after being tormented and shunned at her previous school when her best friend told everyone that Simone has HIV.  She wants a fresh start and her junior year is going well, at first.  She’s been assigned as the high school musical director for the school production of “Rent” because Broadway is one of her passions and her teacher believes she has what it takes to follow her dreams and make a career out of directing.  Simone meets this amazing guy, Miles, and they form a healthy relationship and she shares her secret with him.  Miles handles it kindly and with empathy and treats Simone the same as before.  Someone starts leaving threatening notes for Simone, warning her to break up with Miles or else.  Everything escalates after that and blow up.  Simone finds out who her true friends are and she has to decide whether to hold her head up high and persevere or run away from the same problem all over again.

 Be aware that Full Disclosure freely talks about sexual issues and questions, so not for sexually squeamish readers.
Impressive and bold young adult debut!

Tabitha’s Death by Jordan Elizabeth

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Love the cover!
Tabitha’s Death by Jordan Elizabeth. Author request. Tabitha feels like she’s lost everything and has nothing to live for. She slits her wrists after her best friend has died and her boyfriend uses her. She ends up in a sort of limbo, doing the bidding of the Gray Man. His tasks pile up and cause more torment and she begins to realize that she might never be freed from this. Tabitha meets several others who have ended their lives in different ways. They’re doing tasks for the Gray Man and other limbo creatures, trying to die and move on as they’ve been promised will happen when they’re finished with the creatures’ biddings. Tabitha was timid and submissive to everyone around her but she becomes a stronger person through her time in limbo. I enjoyed her character growth and was glad she was able to finally see her own worth. 4 stars!

Creating Sanctuary by Jessi Bloom

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A creative way to build relaxation!
Thanks to NetGalley and Timber Press for the opportunity to read and review Creating Sanctuary by Jessi Bloom!
Informative and inspiring, Creating Sanctuary shows and tells the reader about sanctuary around the world and gives us the knowledge and freedom to choose and create our own special healing and meditative spaces. The five steps to creating your sanctuary garden are to clear out space, improve the soil, manage the water, provide wildlife habitat and build the plant layers. Different styles and designs for planting (medicine wheels) and different relaxation techniques (forest bathing)are discussed, as well as celebrating the changing seasons. Eye-opening and helpful tips for every aspect of building a personal sanctuary, 5 stars!

Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott

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Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott, published by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers tells the story of Stella and Will. Stella has admitted herself into the hospital she’s been treated in most of her life. She has cystic fibrosis and now she has a fever and sore throat that has landed her in the hospital again. The staff and other CF patients know her well but she meets a new patient, Will. Eight months ago, Will found out that he has a fatal illness to go along with the CF he already has and he’s in the hospital for a drug trial. He’s tired of being trapped in hospitals and just wants to enjoy life. Will seems to not care about getting better while Stella is compulsive about her strict medical routine. The more I read, the more the story revealed about Stella’s and Will’s lives and their families. The daily CF routines are difficult and time-consuming and if there’s no improvement, the patient struggles to see any benefit. Full of loyalty and friendship, Five Feet Apart lets us see deeper into the difficulties of having cystic fibrosis and the tragedy of young people knowing nothing else but medical treatments and a short life span hovering in their futures. Heartbreaking, hopeful and inspiring all at the same time, 4 stars!

Girls’ Home Spa Lab by Maya Pagan

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DIY destressing!
Thanks to NetGalley and Storey Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Girls’ Home Spa Lab by Maya Pagan! A wonderful collection of self-care advice, tips and recipes for pre-teen girls, teenagers and women of all ages. Simple directions make this guide helpful and the projects doable, from sleep masks to foot cream! A must have book for teens everywhere, 5 stars!

The Unbinding of Mary Reade by Miriam McNamara

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Thanks to Edelweiss and Sky Pony Press for the opportunity to read and review The Unbinding of Mary Reade! Mary hides on the ship when Pirates attack and she unexpectedly kills the Captain and swears allegiance to the Pirate Captain. The next chapter goes back in time and tells us how Mary disguised herself, as her dead brother Mark, to please her mother and to receive money from her grandmother. Her mother calls her a bastard girl and tells her that she’s unacceptable in society or in the family. From then on Mary stays disguised as a boy everywhere except when she’s alone with her mother, who’s drunk most of the time. The story moves back and forth between the past and the present and eventually they catch up to each other, with Mary trying to figure out and understand her place in the world. Action and a delicate, tactful handling of Mary’s relationships and how she finally decides what suits her true-self best. A 4 star adventure!

 

A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti

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Deeply moving!
Thanks to Edelweiss+, NetGalley and Simon Pulse for the opportunity to read and review A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti!
This story captivated me with it’s mysterious, traumatic event and the strength of the main character and supporting characters. Also, the charm and humor of family and all the quirks that go along with that wonderful six letter word. The story is somewhat difficult to follow; I’m sure that was on purpose by the author because the back and forth, scattered thoughts represent the stress of the main character very well. A heartbreaking and inspiring story that fully reveals the event by the end of the book. 5 stars for this deeply moving realistic fiction!

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!

 

Watching You by Shannon Greenland

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This story holds suspense, romance, mystery and a thrilling plot in its pages!
Thanks to Entangled Publishing and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Watching You by Shannon Greenland. Viola is attending Ponce de Leon Academy because she’s been awarded a scholarship, a scholarship that someone else was relying on since he’s been the recipient for the past three years. Now Riel is a senior with no way to pay for school. Viola is grateful for the chance to attend the academy with its connection to MIT, where she’s dreamed of going as long as she can remember. She comes from a not-so-good background and she wants to change things and make everything better for her family. The story is told from Viola’s point of view with a creepy stalker speaking every so often. The pace picks up and the background is set, while the characters grow more interesting and intriguing. At first, Viola comes across as whiny, but the more I got to know her, the more I liked her and could understand her reasoning. I appreciate Viola’s perseverance and Riel’s strength and his dedication to his younger sister. The underlying message of how hard work and goals are important in becoming successful reminds readers that work ethic is a wonderful thing. This story holds suspense, romance, mystery and a thrilling plot in its pages, 4 stars!

Shinrin Yoku: The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing by Yoshifumi Miyazaki

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Thanks to NetGalley and Timber Press for the opportunity to read and review Shinrin Yoku: The Japanese Art of Forest Bathing by Yoshifumi Miyazaki. This book is meant for reducing stress and the title alone relaxes me. Shinrin-yoku, nature therapy and forest therapy both embody “Japan’s Relationship with Nature”. Effects of nature on stress relief and the body are discussed with beautiful photographs interspersed between the scientific information. Information is even given for when getting outdoors to relax isn’t a possibility; tips and tricks that make you feel like you’re really out in nature can be convincing enough to relief stress. A wonderful guide to nature therapy relieves stress just by reading it, 4 stars!