4 Star Books · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · Medical · mental health · Young Adult

Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow

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Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow 

Published: August 30, 2016

Publisher: Delacorte Press

Pages: 416

Genres: young adult, contemporary fiction, mental health 

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: realistic portrayals of mental health struggles, homelessness and self harm, realistic non fluffy books

Foodie Vibes: peanut butter and bread — cheap, doesn’t require refrigeration and is filling — required for when times are tough 

 

Synopsis: 

Charlotte Davis is in pieces. At seventeen she’s already lost more than most people lose in a lifetime. But she’s learned how to forget. The broken glass washes away the sorrow until there is nothing but calm. You don’t have to think about your father and the river. Your best friend, who is gone forever. Or your mother, who has nothing left to give you.

Every new scar hardens Charlie’s heart just a little more, yet it still hurts so much. It hurts enough to not care anymore, which is sometimes what has to happen before you can find your way back from the edge.

 

Review:

Trigger warning: self harm, alcohol abuse, mentions of sexual assault

 

Girl in Pieces tells the story of Charlotte, a teenage girl who struggles with self harm. The book starts out with her hospitalized in a mental health facility. She doesn’t speak to anyone, but is glad to be there. Due to a lack of family support, she was homeless prior to the hospital. 

Girl in Pieces isn’t like many other young adult books featuring self harm. It tells the story of a different subset of teenage girls. I like that it gives a voice and a relatable character where there wasn’t one before. I also appreciated that the author didn’t glorify self harm. The story and Charlotte’s journey is very intense, almost a bit much for me at times. She has lots of ups and downs in her journey along the path to recovery and figuring out her future. It’s very realistic. 

While the representation is great, there are multiple aspects that I didn’t love. #1: her relationship with her boyfriend, for multiple reasons. Also, the fact that no one makes her go to school. No explanation about this either. When Charlotte was not making the best decisions for herself I was very frustrated for her. In general I enjoyed reading about her, but didn’t connect with her character as much as I would have liked. 

Overall, a well written story with great representation of self harm and other mental health struggles in general. The downsides didn’t mean a bad book, but more annoyances/frustrations on my part as a reader. Definitely worth checking out!

 

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How should we react when we see someone who has self harm scars? Discuss below. 

 

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4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · mystery · psychological thriller · Uncategorized

After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

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After Anna by Lisa Scottoline

Published: April 10, 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 388

Genres: domestic fiction, mystery, psychological thriller

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: other Lisa Scottoline books, family drama, books filled with twists and turns 

Foodie Vibes: homemade spaghetti – dinner as a family 

 

Synopsis: 

Nobody cuts deeper than family…

Noah Alderman, a doctor and a widower, has remarried a wonderful woman, Maggie, and for the first time in a long time he and his son are happy. But their lives are turned upside down when Maggie’s daughter Anna moves in with them. Anna is a gorgeous seventeen-year-old who balks at living under their rules though Maggie, ecstatic to have her daughter back, ignores the red flags that hint at the trouble that is brewing. Events take a deadly turn when Anna is murdered and Noah is accused of the crime. Maggie must face not only the devastation of losing her only daughter, but the realization that her daughter’s murder was at the hands of a husband she loves. New information sends Maggie searching for the truth, leading her to discover something darker than she could have ever imagined.

 

Review:

After Anna is another great book from Lisa Scottoline. Whenever I pick up one of her books, I know I’m in for a quality entertaining read. After Anna didn’t disappoint. 

I like that the book kept me highly entertained and guessing about the killer throughout. I was sure I knew who had done it, early on, but it turns out I was wrong. One of these days I’m going to get it right! I also enjoyed the drama that manipulative teenage girls can bring. There’s something special the author does with her mysteries that keep me captivated. 

The one thing I didn’t like was that for a long time you don’t know if someone is a pervert or not. It made me feel uneasy.

Overall, another great novel from Lisa Scottoline. Definitely makes me want to keep reading her books!

 

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Have you read books by Lisa Scottoline?

What’s your favorite book of hers?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

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4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · mystery · suspense · thriller

New Release | The Sisters by Rosalind Noonan

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The Sisters by Rosalind Noonan

Published: November 27, 2018

Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation

Pages: 352

Genres: contemporary fiction, mystery, suspense, thriller

Rating: 4 stars 

Recommend to fans of: books about cults, adopted kids growing up well, suspense in suburbia

Foodie Vibes: frozen peanut butter sandwiches, mall court food

 

Synopsis:

Twelve years ago, Glory abandoned her two daughters–four-year-old Ruby and baby Aurora–at a fire station, running off to a man who promised love and protection. Though the refuge she hoped for turned out to be a sham, she believes Ruby and Aurora are better off without her. But Glory has since given birth to another daughter, who’s clamoring for a life beyond their close-knit, tightly controlled world.

Sixteen-year-old Ruby loves her adoptive parents, but she hasn’t forgotten Glory. Now that she has her driver’s license, Ruby sets out in search of her birth mother. What she finds is a ramshackle house of castaway women, referred to as “sisters,” ruled over by a charismatic bully who monitors their every move.

Glory would take ten-year-old Luna away in a heartbeat if they had somewhere to go. On good days, the girl is confined to the fenced-in yard; on bad days, she’s sent to the dusty attic as punishment. When Ruby makes contact, Glory seizes on a chance for escape. Ruby is desperate to help, but how much does she owe to family she barely knows–and how can she fix someone else’s life when she has so little power over her own?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Kensington Publishing Corporation and Rosalind Noonan for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The Sisters starts out making me think the story is about a mom who gives up her young kids for adoption. Which gives it more of a contemporary fiction/domestic fiction vibe. But then more and more little hints are dropped, and the story changes. Boom! There’s drama, suspense, cults in suburbia, and more. The book has a little bit of everything. 

I really liked Ruby, the main character. She’s smart, kind, and seamlessly pulls together the worlds of bother her birth mom and adoptive parents. I also liked that the author shines a light on adoptions as well as non traditional types of cults. Informative as well as interesting! The story pulled me in right from the beginning and didn’t let go. 

However a few moments I wasn’t a fan of, mainly due to the mistreatment of the women. That’s to be expected in books with these topics.

Overall, a perfect mix of drama, suspense and a loving family. A definitely recommend from me!

 

Random Question: If a book is really good, do you stay up late reading?

 

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4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · POC · Urban Fiction

ARC Review | In These Streets by Shelly Ellis

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In These Streets by Shelly Ellis

Published: November 27, 2018

Publisher: Dafina

Pages: 352

Genres: contemporary fiction, contemporary romance, POC, urban fiction 

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: friends who grew up together, flawed but relatable good characters

Foodie Vibes: wine and a nice dinner — while trying to impress the right people 

Synopsis:

They beat the odds and turned their lives around. But now three best friends will go head-to-head with ambition, deception—and each other . . .
 
Derrick. Ricky. Jamal. One’s responsible; one’s still a player; one’s upwardly-mobile. Sentenced to the Branch Avenue Boys’ Youth Institute at twelve, they grabbed the chance for better futures. They stayed tight even when their lives diverged—but the times . . . they are a-changing.
 
New deputy mayor Jamal is anti–corruption, which means severing ties with Ricky, now a “criminally-adjacent” businessman. But political power plays and unrequited love will lead Jamal to a lethal choice . . .  
 
Ricky doesn’t mind running a front for DC’s biggest drug dealer, but when he pursues a sexy customer at his strip club and discovers she’s a cop, any wrong move could end Ricky’s good times permanently . . .
 
Now the Institute’s new leader, Derrick is torn between his job and his fiancée, Melissa. But when a cute new instructor who supports him and his mission arrives, he wonders if he should leave Melissa behind, not the Institute. However, this dilemma is nothing compared to a problem brewing right under his nose, and the fallout will strike at the heart of the three friends’ bond—and put more than their survival on the line . . .

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Dafina and Shelly Ellis for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

In These Streets centers around Derrick, Ricky and Jamal. The 3 friends had a tough life growing up. Each guy has achieved various levels of success in their life, some legal and some not.

The book explores male friendships, their relationships with significant others, careers choices, moral choices and more. I really liked that the author explored the multidimensional character of each person. No one is perfect. Each person’s reasoning, behind their actions, was explained so you understood them even if you didn’t agree with their choices. I also enjoyed the diverse representation. Also a gay male black character is in the book, which isn’t always talked about. I was really invested in the stories and enjoyed reading them.

However, some of the romantic relationships were unfaithful. And you know me, I’m not a fan of that. But mostly, people are good human beings. 

Overall, a very enjoyable and in depth read. Loved the character exploration and development. Highly recommend!

 

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Random Question: What’s the best day of the week?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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4 Star Books · Book Reviews · fiction · mystery · Police Procedural · psychological thriller · suspense · thriller · Uncategorized

Perfect Girls by Alison James

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Perfect Girls by Alison James

Published: September 18, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: 333

Genres: thriller, mystery, psychological thriller, suspense, crime

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: twisted psychological thrillers, can’t get enough of them books, the horrors of modern day techonlogy

Foodie Vibes: tea and biscuits but beware …

 

Synopsis:

Phoebe. Tiffany. Melissa. They all made one little mistake…

When twenty-five-year-old Phoebe Stiles opens the door to her perfect apartment she doesn’t realise it’s the mistake that will kill her…

The body of the beautiful English girl is discovered months later – dumped behind the back of a department store. But who was the stranger she let into the safety of her home?

As Detective Rachel Prince pieces together the mystery surrounding Phoebe’s death, another young, blonde girl is found brutally murdered and abandoned in the grounds of an old theatre.

In the most dangerous case of her career, Rachel must track down the faceless individual to stop the body count rising. But to uncover the shocking truth, Rachel has to put herself at risk… can she catch the twisted killer, before they catch her?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and Alison James for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Perfect Girls is a perfectly addictive novel. A psychological thriller that uses all of the modern day technology and social media advances to truly scare you. The author didn’t resort of cliches to make the book work. Definitely a unique and chilling novel. Perfect for a creepy Halloween read!

The detective from England ends up going to Hollywood to investigate the death of a young woman, who previously lived in her country. The local police wrap up the case quickly, but Rachel has some lingering doubts. Following her hunches, she crosses the country to investigate until she can figure out the truth. 

The book pulled me right in and captivated me throughout the whole read. I thought the premise and little details made for a unique, complex and intriguing story. The author was great at making me feel as if I was right there, especially with her descriptions of scent. Such little details, but they make the book that much better. 

The mystery was great. However the romance, which didn’t play much of a role, was kind of annoying. I could have done without it completely. Since it wasn’t featured much, it didn’t really bother me though. 

Overall, a phenomenal mystery that uses technology and social media to keep you guessing until the very end. 

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

Have you read this book yet? What did you think? 

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · fiction · POC · romance · Women's Fiction

Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh

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Busted in Bollywood by Nicola Marsh

Published: July 3, 2012

Publisher: Entangled Publishing

Pages: 302

Genres: chick lit, romance, contemporary romance, fiction, POC

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: fun books that make you happy, Bollywood movies, great friends, cross continental romance

Foodie Vibes: authentic Indian treats made and enjoyed with loved ones

 

Synopsis:

Shari Jones needs to get a life. Preferably someone else’s.
Single, homeless and jobless, Indo-American Shari agrees to her best friend’s whacky scheme: travel to Mumbai, pose as Amrita, and ditch the fiancé her traditional Indian parents have chosen. Simple. Until she’s mistaken for a famous Bollywood actress, stalked by a Lone Ranger wannabe, courted by an English lord, and busted by the blackmailing fiancé.
Life is less complicated in New York.
Or so she thinks, until the entourage of crazies follows her to the Big Apple and that’s when the fun really begins. Shari deals with a blossoming romance, an addiction to Indian food and her first movie role, while secretly craving another trip to the mystical land responsible for sparking her new lease on life. Returning to her Indian birthplace, she has an epiphany. Maybe the happily-ever-after of her dreams isn’t so far away?

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Entangled Publishing, and Nicola Marsh for an ebook copy. As always, an honest review from me. 

One word to describe this book: FUN! It’s a feel good book filled with great Indian food, romance-love and arranged, wonderful friendships, fun cultural adventures, and just enough family drama to keep things interesting. When I think about Busted in Bollywood, I am filled with images of color, Indian delicacies, and pure joy. The book version of a Bollywood movie, that I can’t get enough of.

The story is set in New York City and India, both bustling vibrant cities, perfect for this whirlwind of a story. I loved the underlying focus on true relationships – family, friendships, and romantic. It’s not just a silly book, but is filled with great depth. 

Occasionally I wasn’t sure about the main character’s relationship. And I wanted to hear more about her friend’s relationship. 

But overall a fun joyful book that I highly recommend, to put you in a good mood.

 

Have you watched a Bollywood movie before? What did you think?

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Medical · memoir · non fiction

New Release |Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers by Marianna Crane

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Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic: A Nurse Practitioner Remembers by Marianna Crane

Published: November 6, 2018

Publisher: She Writes Press

Pages: 232 

Genres: non fiction, memoir, medical

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about medicine and nursing

Foodie Vibes: potluck style luncheon for the community

 

Synopsis:

Running a clinic for seniors requires a lot more than simply providing medical care. In Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic, Marianna Crane chases out scam artists and abusive adult children, plans a funeral, signs her own name to social security checks, and butts heads with her staff―two spirited older women who are more well-intentioned than professional―even as she deals with a difficult situation at home, where the tempestuous relationship with her own mother is deteriorating further than ever before. Eventually, however, Crane maneuvers her mother out of her household and into an apartment of her own―but only after a power struggle and no small amount of guilt―and she finally begins to learn from her older staff and her patients how to juggle traditional health care with unconventional actions to meet the complex needs of a frail and underserved elderly population.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, She Writes Press and Marianna Crane for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Stories from the Tenth-Floor Clinic is a wonderful representation of the realities of nursing. The author tells stories from her time running a clinic for seniors. She was one of the first gerontological nurse practitioners in the 1980s. A pioneer in the field!

I liked that the book shows the realities of nursing: the good, bad and mundane. The more accurate representations in the media, the better. Certainly no silly stereotypes here. The author told her experiences with authenticity, dignity and respect for her elderly clients. 

While the realities of aging can be unpleasant at times, that doesn’t mean they don’t deserve kindness and human decency. A great addition to the literature and history about the nursing profession.

 

What’s a silly stereotype that you’ve heard about nurses? 

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Books About Books · Cozy Mystery · fiction · mystery

Release Day | Murder by the Book

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Murder by the Book by Lauren Elliott

Published: October 30, 2018

Publisher: Kensington Publishing Corporation

Pages: 304

Genres: cozy mystery, mystery, fiction, books about books

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: books about books, feel good books with an intense edge, strong smart business women

Foodie Vibes: soothing cup of tea and a sack lunch brought to you by a new friend and fellow business woman 

 

Synopsis:

Addie Greyborne loved working with rare books at the Boston Public Library—she even got to play detective, tracking down clues about mysterious old volumes. But she didn’t expect her sleuthing skills to come in so handy in a little seaside town . . .

Addie left some painful memories behind in the big city, including the unsolved murder of her fiancé and her father’s fatal car accident. After an unexpected inheritance from a great aunt, she’s moved to a small New England town founded by her ancestors back in colonial times—and living in spacious Greyborne Manor, on a hilltop overlooking the harbor. Best of all, her aunt also left her countless first editions and other treasures—providing an inventory to start her own store.

But there’s trouble from day one, and not just from the grumpy woman who runs the bakery next door. A car nearly runs Addie down. Someone steals a copy of Alice in Wonderland. Then, Addie’s friend Serena, who owns a nearby tea shop, is arrested—for killing another local merchant. The police seem pretty sure they’ve got the story in hand, but Addie’s not going to let them close the book on this case without a fight . .

 

Review:

I won this book for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Kensington Publishing and Lauren Elliott for an ARC copy of the book. As always, an honest review from me.

What better than a book about books? Not much in my opinion. Murder by the Book centers around Addie who recently moved back to town and opened a bookshop. Previously she was in the business, along with her family, of selling, tracking down and authenticating rare books. Now she’s venturing out into business. The reception of her new shop is mixed. Some people are happy to welcome her to town, like Serena her new door neighbor, fellow business owner, and new friend. Other locals aren’t so happy to see her. 

Addie doesn’t have much time to dwell on that when there’s a rash of break ins at her shop, home and also other crimes about town. There’s something strange going on and she’s determined to get to the bottom of it. 

I like that Addie investigates based on her hunches but also allows the police to do their job investigating initially. She’s not just going about town willy nilly, searching for clues. The book retains its cozy mystery vibes while still being authentic and modern. A perfect mix. 

I wish there was more about Addie’s assistant. I think it would be a lovely heartfelt storyline that could definitely be explored more in a future book. 

Overall, a wonderful cozy but modern mystery featuring a great mix of small town and big city vibes. I definitely recommend it. 

 

Add to Your Goodreads TBR

 

Answer me this:

What’s your favorite part about books written about books?

4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · romance

ARC Review | No One Like Me by Heather McGovern

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No One Like You by Heather McGovern

Published: October 30, 2018

Publisher: Lyrical Shine

Pages: 266

Genres: romance, contemporary romance

Rating: 4 stars 

Recommend to fans of: feel good romance, realistic romance

Foodie Vibes: coffee and chocolate croissants 

 

Synopsis:

In the quaint mountain town of Windamere, North Carolina, the three Sargent sisters are determined to make their hotel and winery, Chateau Jolie, a success. And one by one, they’re finding that nothing pairs better with new beginnings than unexpected love…

The downside of living in a charming small town is that it’s impossible for Brooke Sargent to avoid anyone. Especially someone as big, handsome, and friendly as Trevor Bradley. At his brother’s wedding, they flirted and danced…before Brooke recalled that she’s not ready to trust any man after her divorce, let alone one who’s the competition. Her family’s struggling chateau is planning to host the local senior prom—without the Bradley family’s renowned Honeywilde Inn muscling in and stealing the glory.

Trevor has thought of no one else since the night he and Brooke connected. Even though she shot him down—hard—he’s seen the warmth beneath her guarded facade. Working together, they could give the high school students a spectacular prom. Navigating the rough terrain of Brooke’s business, while proving himself to his own siblings, won’t be easy. But Trevor loves a challenge—especially one that could win him the woman he can’t stop wanting . . .

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Lyrical Shine and Heather McGovern for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

No One Like You is a sweet and sexy contemporary romance story that features an iconic moment in a teen’s life the high school prom. Except the main characters aren’t in high school anymore. They own hotels and wineries nearby and are begged to host the local prom after their venue couldn’t anymore. Trevor and Brooke end up planning the event together, despite some ups and downs. 

I like that there’s some history between the two. They had met at a wedding months prior and there was some obvious attraction. So it’s not some brand new whirlwind romance. It took some time and is built off mutual trust and understanding. My kind of novel. The locales don’t hurt either. Gorgeous wineries, hotels, and gardens set the scene for a lovely romance. I especially like the couple. They’re both private people by nature. Also the actual planning of the event was really fun to read about. 

However, their family’s backstory at times was a bit vague and confusing. With it being such an important part of the book, I wish it was a bit more figured out. But with a romance it’s easy to overlook those aspects as a reader. 

Overall a lovely romance that I would love to read more of, in the series. A serious but feel good read. 

 

What was your favorite prom memory?

4 Star Books · Book Reviews · non fiction · psychology

Counseling Insights: Practical Strategies for Helping Others with Anxiety, Trauma, Grief, and More by Vicki Enns

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Counseling Insights: Practical Strategies for Helping Others with Anxiety, Trauma, Grief, and More by Vicki Enns

Published: August 21, 2018

Publisher: Achieve Publishing

Pages: 336

Genres: non fiction, psychology

Rating: 4 stars

Recommend to fans of: informative books about mental health, therapists, psychology students

Foodie Vibes: a relaxing beverage of your choice

 

Synopsis:

As helpers, caregivers, and counsellors, there are times when we need support to be able to help the people we are working with. Hearing from others in similar roles is a key way of finding inspiration and guidance.

This book offers practical strategies for supporting people of all ages who have a variety of issues, whether psychological (anxiety, trauma, depression), based on life circumstances (loss and grief, oppressive societal attitudes), or due to harmful ways of coping with these or other life stressors (self-injury, substance use, suicidality).

Each chapter begins with an examination of a different psychological issue or situation. Case examples of both youth and adults are included for each topic to illustrate both the impact of the issue and the helping process. Authors share insights they have gained from research, counselling experiences, and the unique wisdom of the people they have encountered.

This book is written not only for clinical counsellors, but also for the multitude of frontline helpers who work to support those seeking help and guidance. It is a resource for anyone who identifies as a care provider, including those in the social service, health, education, spiritual care, and social work roles.

 

Review:

I won this ebook for free through Goodreads Giveaways. Thank you to Goodreads, Vicki Enns, and Achieve Publishing for a copy. As always, an honest review from me.

The book’s summary is very close to the title. A book to help, mainly therapists or health professionals help their clients through different aspects of life. The book covers depression, anxiety, self injury, suicidal thoughts, trauma, substance use, LGBT2SQ+, grief and more. 

Each chapter starts with an in depth explanation of the topic and potential struggles a person may deal with. Then 2-3 example patients are introduced with their unique stories, as they relate to the topic at hand. The rest of the chapter alternates between giving information and then partial example sessions with the patients to demonstrate the information being applied. I found this to be very helpful. Also each chapter was written by a different professional in the field. Based on the summary I thought the book would apply more to me, as the caregiver of a family member. While incredibly interesting and informative, I’m probably not the intended audience. Psychology students, mental health professionals and even others who work with these patient populations would probably benefit from this informative book.

I would like to point out that the section on self injury is very insightful. From my experiences in psychology courses in college, many times the information is glossed over quickly or out dated. Not so in this book. A great resource for people looking for accurate information on the topic of self injury. 

Overall, a very informative, user friendly book about a variety of mental health topics. Perfect for those in the field looking for additional information.