The Wicker King by Kayla Ancrum blew me away and I am still processing it! Wow, an interesting, twisted story about two teen boys, their acquaintances, family lives and their long-lasting friendship. The relationship between the young men becomes increasingly unhealthy and worries their friends, who try to help them. Things get worse before anything changes and authorities intervene. Food for thought in so many ways, 4 stars!
Heartbreaking, tear-jerking, gut-wrenching reality!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Price of Duty by Todd Strasser. As the story opens, we’re thrown right into a Humvee being hit by an IED! The main character, Jake, narrates in first person point of view, alternating between the present and his active duty as a U.S. soldier. His life has completely changed since he enlisted in the military and he’s holding onto anger from seeing his comrades harmed and killed, feeling deceived by the recruiter, struggling with his own injuries and having to face being reactivated. He’s hiding his anger from everyone and he’s afraid he’ll let it slip and his family and hometown will think less of him. Price of Duty shows us what war is really about in heartbreaking, tear jerking, gut wrenching reality, 5 stars for a book that I’m definitely buying for the library collection!
Frightening and riveting!
Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review The Dark Beneath the Ice by Amelinda Berube!
Marianne is staying with her Aunt Jen until her mother straightens some things out. Marianne’s parents are split up, but her parents leave her in the dark. Marianne breaks and throws chalk during her math class when the teacher asks her to solve an equation at the board but she has no recollection of that. Her parents keep reassuring her that their separation is not her fault. This makes me wonder about the situation they were in and what is going on with Marianne. While living at Aunt Jen’s, Marianne makes a new friend, a helpful friend in Rhiannon, who prefers to be called Ron. Together they try to get to the bottom of Marianne’s struggles. During an experiment with Marianne, something frightens Ron terribly and she runs away and leaves Marianne on the beach where Marianne had an episode and Ron recorded the audio part of it. Frightening and riveting! I didn’t want to put the book down. This creepy, supernatural read gave me chills and food for thought- we all have to fight our own personal demons. 5 stars!
The authors bear their souls to help others dealing with personal struggles!
Thirty-one authors share their experiences in dealing with mental illness within the pages of this book. Maureen Johnson discusses her anxiety and how meditation and slowing down her schedule helped and continues to help her. I like her comparison of anxiety being a stupid monster that doesn’t know anything. Robison Wells discusses mental illness treatments and the mental illnesses he lives with. Lauren Oliver relates her depression to mental stutters; we may all trip up at one time or another. Jennifer L. Armentrout talks about her suicide attempt and suicidal thoughts. Amy Reed shares her experiences with addiction and depression. Aprilynne Pike explains her compulsive behavior. Rachel M. Wilson’s dilemma of OCD and ADHD combined is shared. Dan Wells remembers his grandparents and the dementia and Alzheimer’s they dealt with. Amber Benson shares the gift of therapy and how she believes there’s no difference between having mental health problems or physical health problems; they both need help. E. K. Anderson unravels in poetic form. Sarah Fine is an author and a clinical psychologist. Kelly Fiore-Stultz speaks of addiction and family members. Ellen Hopkins shares her grandson’s story. Scott Neumyer tells all while relaying his message about personal anxiety. Crissa-Jean Chappell discusses her OCD. Francesca Lia Block shares the story of her friend with manic depression. Tara Kelly talks about her anxiety, ADHD and OCD. Kimberly McCreight is an anxious worrier and became a heavy drinker. Megan Kelley Hall has dealt with traumatic health issues her entire life, along with depression. Hannah Moskowitz discusses how mental illnesses are different for everyone. Karen Mahoney tells her story of chronic anxiety and Trichotillomania; she pulls out her eyelashes. Tom Pollock has suicidal thoughts and suffers from bulimia. Cyn Balog tells her experience with body dysmorphic disorder. Melissa Marr talks about her PTSD. Wendy Toliver talks with her sixteen-year-old son about his anxiety, depression and OCD. Cindy L. Rodriguez talks about being a Latina with depression. Candace Ganger describes her anxiety. Sara Zarr shares her experiences of worthlessness. Cynthia Hand talks about her brother’s suicide. Francisco X. Stork talks about loneliness and bipolar disorder. Jessica Burkhart shares her addiction to Xanax. This collection of honest stories will help many people understand and deal with their struggles. With much appreciation for the wisdom and bravery the authors have to share their personal experiences with their readers, I give a standing ovation and 5 stars!
The story of Lizzie Borden with fictional flair!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review Lizzie by Dawn Ius! Mystery sums up the prologue with the narrator disoriented and seemingly injured. Chapter one opens five years later. Facts about the historical and infamous Lizzie Borden are scattered throughout the story and some are facts that I wasn’t already aware of, even though I have read a few books about the true story of Lizzie Borden and the mystery surrounding her. The present setting threw me off a bit but it’s because I was expecting a setting in the 1800’s. The more I learn about Lizzie, the more interested I become. The contemporary setting allows for more humor and also the addressing of the controversy surrounding sexual orientation. I don’t want to spoil any parts of the story for future readers. Lizzie is a unique book and adds a little flair to the history the story is based on; 4 stars!
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!
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!
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!
Kat and Meg Conquer the World by Anna Priemaza has a bright, fun cover that entices readers. Kat has just started at a new school. Meg attends this school and the two of them become partners for their class Science Project. Neither one of them has any truly good friends and, little by little they grow a friendship beginning with their mutual love of a certain video game. Through the ups and downs of growing up and building relationships, Kat and Meg discover how to cope and enjoy their lives and accept themselves just as they are. You never know when you’re going to find a friend! The maturity level of the two main characters didn’t always feel consistent, but otherwise, this book is a fun read that young teens will be able to relate to. 3.5 stars for this realistic fiction written for teens.