Overcoming Gaslighting by June Presley

When I was first approached about reading and reviewing this book, I didn’t know the term for the actions of manipulative people. Now I know gaslighting means exactly that. This book is a helpful and logical guide to recognizing, dealing with and overcoming the manipulative behavior of gaslighters, those narcissistic people that bring toxicity to everyday life. Examples are given of workplace scenarios and family situations to help identify the behavior.The next section delves into the questions of how and why people become manipulative. Then into the types of gaslighting. Some gaslighting occurs with intent while others can be unintentional. Gaslighting techniques are explored and discussed to help identify this behavior. Common signs of a gaslighting victim’s actions are listed also, to help readers recognize if this is happening to themselves or someone they know. Gaslighting is a “tool” of narcissists, who manipulate those around them. Effects of gaslighting on the victim can alter and inhibit normal life. Loss of self esteem, confidence, friends, emotional expression, feeling anxious and depressed, trust issues and submissive behavior are some of the results or effects of being a gaslighting victim. Being a victim can also take a huge toll on physical well being, since stress can cause health issues. Luckily, we can deal with and overcome gaslighting. First, recognition is the key and trusting yourself will help you gain the confidence needed to put the behavior out of your life. Self-affirmation exercises can help you gain your confidence back and mindfulness and meditation can help you strengthen your resolve and deal with and stop being a victim. Self-help for building awareness and regaining confidence!

House of Earth and Blood by Sarah J. Maas.

The new series, by Sarah J. Maas, opens with House of Earth and Blood which involves Bryce, half-fae/half-human and her world. The cover is beautifully complex!
In the beginning of the book, Bryce is trying to calm her wolf friend because of an injustice occurring, which let a criminal receive freedom. Bryce goes on a date with her human boyfriend and he ignores her the entire time, so she dumps him and leaves to party at a club with her friends. As Bryce returns home, she can tell something is off, even though she’s wasted. Once she reaches her apartment she finds her best friend and roommate, Danika, slaughtered, as well as the rest of Danika’s wolf pack. Briggs, the criminal that had been set free, is arrested for the murders because of evidence and motive. Two years later, the same type of murder takes place while Briggs is still in prison. Bryce is assigned to work with the police to help find the murderer. She reluctantly and grudgingly let’s them follow her around for her protection and she spends more time and energy being annoying, rude and wasting the police’s time when all she needs to do is give them a list of Danika’s whereabouts and who she spent the last week of her life around. This makes Bryce seem like a completely selfish brat. While she seemed to be wasting time, she was actually gathering information to share with the Angel protecting her. Eventually Bryce and Hunt, the Angel guard, work together and try to find answers to several mysteries, not just Danika’s death. They also become friends and more to each other. Things take a turn for the worst and Hunt feels like he will be a slave forever. Twists and surprises abound and make this first book in the Crescent City a great start to a promising new series, 5 stars!

Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus

Twisted Sci-Fi!
Bent Heavens by Daniel Kraus tells the tragic story of Liv, her father Lee, and her lifelong friend Doug. I immediately feel sorry for Liv and her father because I can predict the judgmental treatment that will probably happen after his episode of incoherent talking and nakedness in front of the community. Liv and Doug are friends and continue to maintain the traps and protection her father set after he said he was harmed by aliens a few years ago. Lee took Liv and Doug on a hunting trip and he ran away towards something that the other two couldn’t see. Liv is friends with a popular group and Doug is more of a loner that doesn’t fit in. Doug believes Lee, Liv’s father, about the aliens but Liv doesn’t. Her mother doesn’t either and they think he’s just mentally unhealthy. One day, as Liv is checking one of the traps her dad created, she finds an alien caught in one. This blows Liv’s mind. Doug and Liv keep the alien, or skinner as Lee called them, imprisoned in her backyard shed and interrogate it for any information about Lee. The skinner eventually speaks three words: car, bow, hole. Doug believes torture is the best way to get information about Lee from the skinner; Liv disagrees. This disagreement builds a rift between them and they go their separate ways. Liv realizes that car, bow, hole might mean the name Carbajal. She does some searching and meets a mysterious, dilapidated man with that name. He gives her frightening information. Several twists and tragedy build and end the science fiction story, 4 stars!

A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer

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Impressive sequel!
A Heart So Fierce and Broken by Brigid Kemmerer
Rumors abound about and rewards are offered for the lost heir of Emberfall. Grey is working as a stable boy and goes by the name of Hawk. He mostly keeps to himself except for his stable companion and coworker, a young boy named Tycho. One night Grey tests out the silver bracelet Lilith gave him for transport into Harper’s world. He didn’t know if it worked anymore but when he touched the bracelet, he left the stables and when he returned, Tycho was staring at him. The ruthless leader that threatened Emberfall before has returned with her daughters to force Rhen into an alliance. The daughter named heir is like her mother while the other cares for people and their well being. Rhen brutalizes Grey and Tycho and the group escapes Emberfall because Grey unintentionally uses his magic. Grey doesn’t trust either kingdom or their rulers but the kind, wise daughter convinces the group to go to her kingdom despite worrying about her mother. A tremendous amount of character development bonded me with this story. I thought A Curse so Dark and Lonely was a wonderful read but this sequel is just as good! 5 stars for this impressive sequel that introduces even more great characters!

I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick

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Impressive mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Margaret McElderry Books for the opportunity to read and review I Killed Zoe Spanos by Kit Frick!
The book begins in August as Anna is being questioned by the police about Zoe Spanos, a young woman who has been missing for two months and looks similar to Anna. Then, the story moves back to June when Anna starts her nanny job. Little by little, Anna meets members of the community and gets to know the neighborhood. The story of Anna alternates with the local podcast, Missing Zoe, created by a Spanos family friend. The podcast explores the investigation into Zoe and her disappearance. The story keeps moving between June when Anna started her job as a nanny in Herron Mills and August when she was arrested for the manslaughter of Zoe. People tend to act strangely around Anna and she starts to wonder why. She knows it’s not just from how she looks. The mystery and questions about Zoe’s disappearance build ominously until the very end of the book. Complicated and fascinating in each part and with all of the characters, I Killed Zoe Spanos weaves a complex, twisty mystery that’s worth a full 5 stars!

A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

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Surprise ending!
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer is one of the best fairy tale retellings that I have read.
The writing demanded my attention from the first chapter and each chapter ends in a bit of a cliffhanger! I had to force myself to stop reading to go to bed. Harper is kidnapped but for reasons that are different from what she ever expected. She’s been kidnapped from Washington D.C. to help break a prince’s curse. Prince Rhen and his top guard, Grey, are the only two that know about the curse and the secret that Rhen is horrified about. Lilith cursed Rhen years ago and he’s turned into a violent monster every season since. Once he changes, he has no memory or control, and because of that he’s ending up killing the royal family, his family. Harper doesn’t like Rhen at first but she understands him better the more she gets to know him. Grey is an intimidating guard but a kind and caring soul. Each season, Rhen becomes a different creature but he’s always violent and ruthless. Harper helps Rhen and his kingdom by pretending to be a princess. A cruel ruler threatens to take over the kingdom and Harper and Rhen tell her that the princess’s father is sending reinforcements to stop her. Rhen, Harper and Grey continue to work together and become closer. This story is full of action, loyalty and bravery and ends in an intense surprise, 5 stars!

A Many Feathered Thing by Lisa Gerlits

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Heartwarming!
Thanks to NetGalley and Capstone for the opportunity to read and review A Many Feathered Thing by Lisa Gerlits!
This book tells a story about Clara and how she found her “voice”, gained confidence and built her self esteem. Clara continued to have ear infections when she was a baby and a toddler. When she was two, her parents realized she was having hearing problems, surgery helped with her hearing but she struggled to learn speech and lost confidence because of teasing from others and the frustration of trying to get the sounds right. Clara is reading The Diary of Anne Frank with her class at school. As she learns about Anne and her life, Clara sees parallels of Anne’s experiences and feelings in people she knows and associates with. This healing story inspired me to sketch again and that’s something I love to do but haven’t done for decades. Clara grows tremendously within the confines of this story, all because her self awareness grows and her confidence builds, thanks to the realization that she can do things, she can be brave and the faith that others have in her. Sometimes, all we need to grow is to have a chance to see outside ourselves and get a different perspective on life’s situations. A truly heartwarming story, 5 stars!

The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski

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More than what I expected!
The Midnight Lie by Marie Rutkoski tells the story of Nirrim, an orphan that lives with other women that don’t have anywhere else to go. They all live under the care of Raven, who treats them like money-making slaves. Nirrim found and captured a priceless bird and was put in jail where she meets Sid. They talk back and forth but they’re in separate cells and low light, so they can’t see each other clearly. Somehow Sid gets them both released and Nirrim is surprised to find out that Sid is actually a woman when she thought Sid was a man during her stay in jail. Sid is a traveler, which is rare in Nirrim’s kingdom. The two befriend each other with a wary trust. The two travel together until a visitor brings Sid worrisome news and she has to return to her home. Then all Nirrim wants is the truth behind the history of her kingdom. What she discovers is much more than she bargained for. The ending left me speechless and was so much bigger than I expected it to be! Different types of abuse and manipulation are touched on as parts of Nirrim’s life. I appreciate the author addressing these issues and helping readers understand the perspective of the abused and used. A complex world with complicated characters, 5 stars!

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

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You Were Here by Cori McCarthy
On the fifth anniversary of her brother’s death, his graduation night, Jaycee is spending her own graduation night trying to lose herself in the memories that she’s been holding tightly to. She’s revisiting the places he enjoyed but she feels him slipping away. She reluctantly lets people tag along as friends on the adventures and each of them experiences something eye-opening that shoves them into adulthood. I love this book and even though I just finished it, I want to read it again. The circumstances that start the story, the character development and growth, the uniquely different characters and the setting work together to build a wonderful book, 5 stars!

The Hadley Academy for the Improbably Gifted by Conor Grennan

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A fun read!
Thanks to NetGalley and Thomas Nelson for the opportunity to read and review The Hadley Academy for the Improbably Gifted by Conor Grennan!
Jack and his best friend Freddy are on scholarship at a boarding school. Freddy has a tendency to believe conspiracy theories and go down the rabbit holes of each of these theories. He presents in history class on a military academy that’s secret to the world, The Hadley Academy. No one believes Freddy and he gets a failing grade on his presentation. As soon as the presentation is over, Jack gets permission to use the restroom and he’s whisked away by Hans, the new school security guard. Hans takes Jack to a secret door that transports him to The Hadley Academy! Freddy soon follows. Each recruit becomes a student and passes through the Spade threshold to discover the spade classification they belong to: Kinetic, Theoric, Systemic, and Expathic. Kinetics like taking risks, Theorics are problem solvers, Systemics are highly creative, and Expathics understand their surroundings at a higher level. Since Superior Blue believes Jack has been sent to fulfill a prophecy, he sets up a thirteenth team and sends out recruiters to find three more dormants to join Jack’s team, Freddy included. The thirteenth team is heckled by the rest of the academy but eventually the need for the team members becomes known. Surprises keep popping up that enlarge the world of The Hadley Academy and bring more and more interesting characters into the story. The Hadley Academy is enjoyable, entertaining and fun to read, 4 stars!