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!

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!

I’m Saying No! by Beverly Engel

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Intelligent and helpful guide for everyone!
Thanks to Edelweiss and She Writes Press for the opportunity to read and review I’m Saying No! by Beverly Engel!
Education and knowledge leads to empowerment and protection. The introductory quote fits perfectly with the concept of this book, “For everything that gets taken from you, don’t let your voice be one of them.” -Anonymous.
The author carefully explains and describes the actions that everyone should take to protect themselves from being used in any way or harmed. Her carefulness shows that she truly wants to help us all become stronger and doesn’t want us to feel like a victim or at fault in any way. The best two tips for staying safe are the following:
-Stay focused and stay safe
-Use all your senses
METRAC’s free phone app generates response suggestions for harassment situations and can be helpful in situations where just walking away isn’t enough. I love the suggestions of creative ways to take action against a harasser, such as writing down their license plate number or writing down the statement that was said to you or telling the harasser that you’re conducting a harassment survey. These are awesome ideas that will possibly throw off the situation so the perpetrator loses his steam! This book is a confidence-building and helpful guide to keeping ourselves strong and safe! 5 stars for a book that everyone needs to read to either protect themselves or to become more aware of how people treat others.

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!

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!

Addiction, Procrastination and Laziness by Roman Gelperin

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AddictionProcrastination and Laziness by Roman Gelperin. The first third of the book relates certain experiences that we can all relate to and involves the scientific side of procrastination. The next part focuses on motivation, which I was the most interested in reading. Motivation seems to be based on pleasure versus displeasure of the action and consequences involved. Strategies are given to help with motivation, such as The Power of Habit and Association and Controlling our Environment. The experiences are recapped and the conclusion sums it all up with the fact that each of us is different with different backgrounds and insecurities and talents and skills. These factors all contribute a part of why we might procrastinate in certain situations. We all need to reflect on these factors in our own lives and apply what we learn about ourselves to help accomplish goals we’ve set. 3.5 stars for a simple guide for conquering procrastination.

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!

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!

The Precious Dreadful by Steven Parlato

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Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing for the opportunity to read and review The Precious Dreadful by Steven Parlato. Teddi’s summer vacation begins with a few options. She decides to spend time with Summerteens, the local library’s summer writing workshop. Before the workshop kicks off, Teddi has had a spooky encounter, a kiss and an argument with her single, downtrodden mother. I fell in love with The Precious Dreadful, Teddi’s personality and boldness and the variety of characters it holds in its pages! The more I read, the deeper the story took me. Teddi has pretty much raised herself since her mother, Brenda, tends to be drunk and partying with her friends instead of being available and sober for her daughter. Brenda is also keeping secrets from Teddi and has tried to, in her own dysfunctional way, protect her role as a mother. As Teddi’s summer rolls on, relationships become more complicated and drama-ridden and her subconscious is forcing her to remember a traumatic and horrible part of her childhood. The Precious Dreadful bends genres: mystery, horror, supernatural, romance and young adult realistic fiction; this book also pulls at your heartstrings through intense tragedy, awareness of bad choices and the bond of friendship and kindness of others and it’s well deserving of 5 stars!

Chalk Houses by Tracy Clark

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Chalk houses by Tracy Clark tells the story of Talon who lives with her single mother that always seems to have a new boyfriend, drinks and is involved with drugs. The story begins on Talon’s sixteenth birthday and her mother doesn’t even remember what day it is. Talon’s goals are to educate herself and receive a degree in psychology and child development so she will be equipped to help neglected children and never be like her mother. She begins receiving emails from Aunt T, who supposedly wants to get to know Talon. They create a circle journal of communication with their emails. Talon has one true friend, Karalyn, who always gives Talon moral support. Gabby, Talon’s younger next door neighbor that lives with an aunt and uncle and is pretty much neglected by them, is under Talon’s wing of protection. Talon spreads out and tests relationship waters with others as she expands her social circle. She makes some dumb decisions and struggles with the consequences and in the meantime she discovers much more about her mother than she could have ever guessed at before. Chalk Houses is a coming of age, coming into your own work of literary art with its beautiful, dynamic characters and other characters that are horrific in their actions. The story comes full circle and is a real tear-jerker full of disappointment, hurt and hope. 5 heart expanding stars!