How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox

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Original, thought-provoking story!
Thanks to Bookish First for the ARC of How It Feels To Float by Helena Fox and Dial Books. I received the book as a Bookish First winner!
Elizabeth, Biz, sees and hears her dad even though he’s been dead for many years. Biz lives in Australia with her single mother and younger twin siblings. She has a best friend named Grace that’s loyal to the point of vandalizing, on Biz’s behalf. They both receive warnings from the police even though Grace keeps saying that Biz was innocent. Grace’s family sends her away and Biz becomes more withdrawn. So, Biz starts therapy and a photography class. Her therapist advises Biz to stay in the moment and acknowledge her feelings and live. She meets new people and makes new friends as she spreads her wings. She also acknowledges the problems that have been buried deep inside. How It Feels to Float was a therapeutic read for me and I relished the professional advice given to Biz. I can see how this book might be triggering, especially if the reader is dealing with similar struggles. I really cannot sum this book’s effect in one word because it’s somewhat enigmatic.,thought-provoking, eye-opening and uniquely unusual! The revealing of the cause of Biz’s struggles was jittery and not explained as well as I expected it to be. I would have appreciated more explanation and feel that this would be more healing and helpful to those that have experienced the same traumas and for this reason, I rate this book 4 stars!

 

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

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Introspective retelling!
Thanks to NetGalley and Delacorte Press for the opportunity to read and review The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White!
The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein is a fresh and unique retelling of Mary Shelley’s classic story. I love the female protagonist, Elizabeth. Her background has been lonely and she’s always struggling to secure her place in the world, much like women of the time period the story takes place in. The mystery intrigued me and after Elizabeth’s background was set, the action and mystery picked up the story’s pace. Tragedy seems to strike all too often around the Frankenstein manor where Elizabeth was taken in as a young girl. Her favorite companion has always been Victor Frankenstein and he claims ownership and complete companionship of Elizabeth. The story becomes darker as it progresses, which makes it even more interesting to read. Historical fiction, horror, and a retelling earn 5 stars! Kudos to Kiersten White for her remarkable retelling!

The Wicker King by K. Ancrum

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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!

Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel

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Much more complex than I anticipated!
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled for the opportunity to read and review Keeper of the Bees by Meg Kassel!
I assumed this would be a continuation of Black Bird of the Gallows, but it’s actually a companion novel with separate characters. Essie struggles with hallucinations, like many of her ancestors have. Dresden is the living embodiment of a curse that he received centuries ago. The two meet by chance and stop each other in their tracks. Essie sees Dresden as beautiful and wants to be in his company. Dresden is amazed at her reaction and is intrigued by her. The world building and background history are both fascinating and interesting and this story is so much more complex than I anticipated. A wonderful love story, 4 stars!

 

Life Inside My Mind by Numerous Authors!

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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!

 

 

Lizzie by Dawn Ius

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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!

Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne

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A science fiction retelling of Jane Eyre!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne! A science fiction retelling of “Jane Eyre”, Stella is an orphan unloved by her relatives and an engineer dreaming of being a governess. She’s an engineer on a derelict ship, Stalwart, that’s on its last leg. Stella receives notification of being hired on another ship and is on her way to her future. The Rochester holds many mysteries from Stella- a young captain, a possible ghost and ship sabotage. Brightly Burning is one science fiction story that I love! Normally, science fiction is not my favorite but this story has surprises and mysterious happenings that kept me thoroughly interested. Stella is a great heroine, not overbearing or a simpering damsel. A lengthier book would have allowed more character depth but I enjoyed Brightly Burning as is too, 4 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!

Before I Let Go by Marieke Nijkamp

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Thanks to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the opportunity to read and review Before I Let Go by Marieki Nijkamp! Corey receives news of the drowning of her best friend, Kyra, and she travels back to Lost Creek to mourn her death and discover how she drowned in the middle of winter when the water is frozen several feet deep. Corey is treated like an outsider because she’s been attending a boarding school away from Lost Creek, so they disregard her questions and concerns. Corey’s determination reveals more than she ever wanted to know about the downward spiral of Kyra’s mental health and the ignorance and selfishness of the people of Lost Creek! 4 stars for a poignant look at bipolar disorder and the struggles of the sufferer and the coping mechanisms of the people closest to them.

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!