2.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mystery · thriller

The Moroccan Girls by Charles Cummings | ARC #BookReview

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The Moroccan Girls by Charles Cummings 

Published: February 12, 2019 

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 368 

Genres: mystery, thriller 

Rating: 2.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: spy novels set in Europe

Foodie Vibes: coffee at an outdoor cafe and people watching 

 

Synopsis: 

Kit Carradine is the successful author of several best-selling novels. When he is approached by MI6 and asked to carry out a simple task on behalf of his country while attending a literary festival in Morocco, he jumps at the chance.

But all is not as it seems. Carradine soon finds himself on the trail of Lara Bartok, a leading figure in Resurrection, a violent revolutionary movement targeting prominent right-wing political figures around the world. Caught between competing intelligence services who want Bartok dead, Carradine faces a choice: to abandon Bartok to her fate or to risk everything trying to save her.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Charles Cummings for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

I needed up DNFing this book about halfway through, because honestly I was bored …. Which is not something you want in a spy thriller. 

Like: 

  • The premise of using a novelist who writes thrillers, as a spy 
  • The overall atmosphere of sitting outside in a European country waiting for the action to happen

Love:

  • The cover – GORGEOUS!

Dislike:

  • Boring! For a spy thriller, there wasn’t much action happening. Granted, I ended up DNFing it at 50% of the way through, but this genre should capture my attention way before that. 

Wish that: 

  • I had more to say about the book. Nothing was bad per say, but nothing was great either. 

Overall, not the book for me. Maybe I’m the only one that feels this way, but these are my thoughts on the book. I did learn that I’m not as big of a spy thriller fan as I originally thought. So maybe that had something to do with my opinions on the book. Who knows? 

 

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How long do you wait before you DNF a book?

 

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5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · Literary Fiction · mental health

The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib | ARC #BookReview

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The Girls at 17 Swann Street by Yara Zgheib

Published: February 5, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 384

Genres: literary fiction, mental health, domestic fiction 

Rating: 5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: books about eating disorders and mental health, strong women struggling with difficult things

Foodie Vibes: the meal plan set forth by the eating disorder treatment team – designed for weight gain and food challenges

 

Synopsis: 

The chocolate went first, then the cheese, the fries, the ice cream. The bread was more difficult, but if she could just lose a little more weight, perhaps she would make the soloists’ list. Perhaps if she were lighter, danced better, tried harder, she would be good enough. Perhaps if she just ran for one more mile, lost just one more pound.

Anna Roux was a professional dancer who followed the man of her dreams from Paris to Missouri. There, alone with her biggest fears – imperfection, failure, loneliness – she spirals down anorexia and depression till she weighs a mere eighty-eight pounds. Forced to seek treatment, she is admitted as a patient at 17 Swann Street, a peach pink house where pale, fragile women with life-threatening eating disorders live. Women like Emm, the veteran; quiet Valerie; Julia, always hungry. Together, they must fight their diseases and face six meals a day.

Yara Zgheib’s poetic and poignant debut novel is a haunting, intimate journey of a young woman’s struggle to reclaim her life. Every bite causes anxiety. Every flavor induces guilt. And every step Anna takes toward recovery will require strength, endurance, and the support of the girls at 17 Swann Street.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, St. Martin’s Press and Yara Zgheib for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like: 

  • Good representation: adults of various ages and stages in life are shown, not just the stereotypical upper middle class teenage girl
  • Each couple of days is punctuated by the staff’s treatment plan update: physiological observations, psychological observations, summary, target calories, meal plans
  • Not a fluffy feel good book, but the realistic ups and downs of getting help for an eating disorder

Love: 

  • The details that go into the world building – In reality it’s only an eating disorder treatment house, but the author makes it seem like a whole different world 
  • The main character: Anna – kind, relatable, vulnerable, courageous
  • The concept and daily life is oddly fascinating — weird?, I know
  • The relationship between Anna and her husband, Matthias
  • Beautifully written

Dislike: 

  • That so many of the characters are missing out on life.
  • Emm: one of the long term patients. It doesn’t seem realistic that she could be at the treatment center for years. Also she didn’t seem to add much to the story, except as one of the many cautionary tales. 

Wish that: 

  • There was more about the psychological aspects of eating disorder treatment such as group therapy, individual therapy, etc.

Overall, a beautifully written book about the brave struggles of a woman working to survive and eating disorder. It’s hard to explain, but there’s something absolutely captivating about this story. 

 

Do you enjoy reading books about characters with a mental illness? 

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

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4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · contemporary fiction · mental health · Young Adult

Roam by C.H. Armstrong | ARC Book Review

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Roam by C.H. Armstrong

Published: February 5, 2019

Publisher: Central Avenue Publishing

Pages: 320 

Genres: young adult, contemporary fiction, mental health 

Rating: 4.5 stars 

Recommend to fans of: realistic issues facing teens today, likable main characters, feel good books about difficult issues

Foodie Vibes: free breakfast and lunch served by the high school, so you don’t go hungry 

 

Synopsis: 

Seventeen year-old Abby Lunde and her family are living on the streets. They had a normal life back in Omaha, but thanks to her mother’s awful mistake, they had to leave what little they had behind for a new start in Rochester. Abby tries to be an average teenager—fitting into school, buoyed by dreams of a boyfriend, college, and a career in music. But Minnesota winters are unforgiving, and so are many teenagers.

Her stepdad promises to put a roof over their heads, but times are tough for everyone and Abby is doing everything she can to keep her shameful secret from her new friends. The divide between rich and poor in high school is painfully obvious, and the stress of never knowing where they’re sleeping or where they’ll find their next meal is taking its toll on the whole family.

As secrets are exposed and the hope for a home fades, Abby knows she must trust those around her to help. But will her friends let her down the same way they did back home, or will they rise to the challenge to help them find a normal life?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Central Avenue Publishing, and C.H. Armstrong for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Like:

  • The family relationships: meaningful, realistic, but tense at times
  • Abby is a great character: kind, relatable, hard working

Love: 

  • Highlights the resources available to people struggling with lack of housing, food, money, clothing, etc. 
  • The overall concept: a homeless teenager navigating life, high school, family, friends and her future as normally as possible
  • Great representation of an underrepresented population
  • Abby’s relationship with her friends and boyfriend
  • The teachers and other adults looking out for her in a non judgmental, discrete manner #TeacherGoals
  • A realistic look at the day in the life of a person dealing with the struggles of being homeless

Dislike:

  • The character of Trish: mean girl/bully to many people

Wish that:

  • The premise of them becoming homeless made more sense. It’s sort of explained at the end, but there were still a few loose ends. 
  • The ending was done better- wrapped up the story a little too quickly and neatly

 

Overall, an absolutely captivating read about an under discussed topic. A book that should be in the curriculum of many high school English and humanity classes. 

 

Bookish Question: 

How can you help those in need in your community? 

Is there a place to donate food, clothes or other necessary supplies? 

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Domestic Fiction · mystery · psychological thriller · suspense

Her One Mistakes by Heidi Perks | New Release

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Her One Mistake by Heidi Perks

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Gallery Books

Pages: 320

Genres: mystery, suspense, psychological thriller, domestic fiction

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: great psychological thrillers, characters that you root for

Foodie Vibes: ice cream that your husband tricks your daughter into believing that she doesn’t want 

 

Synopsis: 

It all started at the school fair…

Charlotte was supposed to be looking after the children, and she swears she was. She only took her eyes off of them for one second. But when her three kids are all safe and sound at the school fair, and Alice, her best friend Harriet’s daughter, is nowhere to be found, Charlotte panics. Frantically searching everywhere, Charlotte knows she must find the courage to tell Harriet that her beloved only child is missing. And admit that she has only herself to blame.

Harriet, devastated by this unthinkable, unbearable loss, can no longer bring herself to speak to Charlotte again, much less trust her. Now more isolated than ever and struggling to keep her marriage afloat, Harriet believes nothing and no one. But as the police bear down on both women trying to piece together the puzzle of what happened to this little girl, dark secrets begin to surface—and Harriet discovers that confiding in Charlotte again may be the only thing that will reunite her with her daughter….

This breathless and fast-paced debut—perfect for fans of Big Little Lies and The Couple Next Door—takes you on a chilling journey that will keep you guessing until the very last page.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Gallery Books, and Heidi Perks for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review. Sorry about the late review on this ARC. A migraine prevented me from getting the reading done.

Lately the thrillers I’ve been reading have been exceptional. Her One Mistake can be added to that list. The book takes us through the horror of losing a child. The palpable fear is so intense, it’s almost indescribable. The author crafted a complex mystery that’s slowly revealed in perfect timing. The mysteries upon mysteries make for a book that I absolutely couldn’t put down. I think I read it in less than 2 days. 

I also like that the concept of gaslighting is featured. It’s not called as such, but it’s well done. The tension and suspense is perfect. I wasn’t sure if I would enjoy a book about a child being kidnapped, or if it would be too typical. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the complexity, surprise and characters. A wonderful psychological thriller that I highly recommend. 

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

Bookish Question:

What makes a psychological thriller great, for you?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

 

3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · coming of age · contemporary fiction · Literary Fiction

Chemistry by Weike Wang

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Chemistry by Weike Wang 

Published: May 23, 2017

Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group

Pages: 224

Genres: literary fiction, contemporary fiction, coming of age

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: young adults who don’t have it all figured it out, overbearing (to the Western culture) Chinese parents, parent – adult children relationships 

Foodie Vibes: leftover pizza #GradSchoolLife

 

Synopsis: 

Three years into her graduate studies at a demanding Boston university, the unnamed narrator of this nimbly wry, concise debut finds her one-time love for chemistry is more hypothesis than reality. She’s tormented by her failed research–and reminded of her delays by her peers, her advisor, and most of all by her Chinese parents, who have always expected nothing short of excellence from her throughout her life. But there’s another, nonscientific question looming: the marriage proposal from her devoted boyfriend, a fellow scientist, whose path through academia has been relatively free of obstacles, and with whom she can’t make a life before finding success on her own.

Eventually, the pressure mounts so high that she must leave everything she thought she knew about her future, and herself, behind. And for the first time, she’s confronted with a question she won’t find the answer to in a textbook: What do I really want?Over the next two years, this winningly flawed, disarmingly insightful heroine learns the formulas and equations for a different kind of chemistry–one in which the reactions can’t be quantified, measured, and analyzed; one that can be studied only in the mysterious language of the heart. Taking us deep inside her scattered, searching mind, here is a brilliant new literary voice that astutely juxtaposes the elegance of science, the anxieties of finding a place in the world, and the sacrifices made for love and family.

 

Review:

Chemistry is many different things. A grad student unsure about her academic future. A daughter feeling pressure from her Chinese parents. A girlfriend trying to figure out her relationship. And a friend asking for support. The book is essentially a coming of age story for someone in their mid 20s. I like that it’s funny, relatable and shows a woman in science. 

While the story is about a woman who doesn’t know where she’s going, the book doesn’t really go anywhere. The cultural explorations are great, but the rest is mediocre.

Overall, I can see why this book is popular and recommend it, but don’t expect it to be things its not. 

 

 

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Why do you think coming of age novels are so popular?

 

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Bookish Posts · politics · What You Missed Wednesdays

What You Missed Wednesdays – Books about Politics Edition

What You Missed Wednesdays is exactly as it sounds!

Book reviews of each week’s genre of choice that you might have missed, and I think you should really hear about.

3 Books a Week with 3 Words/Phrases to Describe Them 

Click on the title of each book to be taken to my full review.

I hope you find new books that you’re excited to add to your TBR!

———————————————————————-

 

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Justice in Plain Sight: A Small Town Newspaper and Its Unlikely Lawyer Opened America’s Courtroom by Dan Bernstein

4 stars

Journalistic rights, First Amendment, tenacity

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

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Yallah Bye by Joseph Safieddine, illustrated by Kyungeun Park

3.5 stars

Political graphic novel, famine, fear

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

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Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger by Soraya Chemaly 

5 stars

Justifiable rage, systemic inequalities, feminism 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

___________________________

 

Well there you have it!

Another edition of What You Missed Wednesdays.

Keep coming back each Wednesday for more Can’t Miss Books!

Which book(s) are you now adding to your TBR?

___________________________

Come say hi!

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4 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Literary Fiction · suspense

Looker by Laura Sims | Release Day

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Looker by Laura Sims

Published: January 8, 2019

Publisher: Scribner

Pages: 192

Genres: literary fiction, suspense

Rating: 4 stars 

Recommend to fans of: interesting character studies, messed up people losing control of their life 

Foodie Vibes: an orzo, feta, watermelon salad to impress your neighbor and wine to drown your sorrows

 

Synopsis: 

A dazzling, razor-sharp debut novel about a woman whose obsession with the beautiful actress on her block drives her to the edge.

I’ve never crossed their little fenced-in garden, of course. I stand on the sidewalk in front of the fern-and-ivy-filled planter that hangs from the fence—placed there as a sort of screen, I’m sure—and have a direct line of view into the kitchen at night. I’m grateful they’ve never thought to install blinds. That’s how confident they are. No one would dare stand in front of our house and watch us, they think. And they’re probably right: except for me.

In this taut and thrilling debut, an unraveling woman, unhappily childless and recently separated, becomes fixated on her neighbor—the actress. The unnamed narrator can’t help noticing with wry irony that, though she and the actress live just a few doors apart, a chasm of professional success and personal fulfillment lies between them. The actress, a celebrity with her face on the side of every bus, shares a gleaming brownstone with her handsome husband and their three adorable children, while the narrator, working in a dead-end job, lives in a run-down, three-story walk-up with her ex-husband’s cat.

When an interaction with the actress at the annual block party takes a disastrous turn, what began as an innocent preoccupation spirals quickly, and lethally, into a frightening and irretrievable madness. Searing and darkly witty, Looker is enormously entertaining—at once a propulsive Hitchcockian thriller and a fearlessly original portrait of the perils of envy.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Scribner, and Laura Sims for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Looker is the tale of a sad, obsessed lady. I would consider the book more of a character study in the literary fiction genre with some aspects of suspense. The main character is obsessed with her neighbor, who is an actress. Most of her day is spent daydreaming about scenarios involving the actress. One of the great but also frustrating aspects of the book is the inability to determine what is real and what is a daydream until after the event possibly occurs. There are a thousand reasons why I don’t like the main character, which usually means that I will dislike the book. However, I ended up absolutely fascinated by the story. 

The downsides: there are many inappropriate sexual fantasies … and realities. Also she’s a terrible pet owner. 

Trigger Warning (and also SPOILER ALERT, but I wish someone had told me this before reading): death of a pet by murder. This deeply upset me

Overall, a horrifying yet fascinating read. 

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

Bookish Question: If you strongly dislike a character, do you stop reading the book?

 

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5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Bookish Posts · contemporary fiction · contemporary romance · mental health · Women's Fiction

The Best Book! | ARC Review | The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

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The Girl He Used to Know by Tracey Garvis Graves

Published: April 2, 2019

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Pages: 304

Genres: contemporary romance, contemporary fiction, women’s fiction, mental health

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: books with all the feels, good representation of people on the autism spectrum

Foodie Vibes: cherry wine coolers 

 

Synopsis:

Annika (rhymes with Monica) Rose is an English major at the University of Illinois. Anxious in social situations where she finds most people’s behavior confusing, she’d rather be surrounded by the order and discipline of books or the quiet solitude of playing chess.

Jonathan Hoffman joined the chess club and lost his first game–and his heart–to the shy and awkward, yet brilliant and beautiful Annika. He admires her ability to be true to herself, quirks and all, and accepts the challenges involved in pursuing a relationship with her. Jonathan and Annika bring out the best in each other, finding the confidence and courage within themselves to plan a future together. What follows is a tumultuous yet tender love affair that withstands everything except the unforeseen tragedy that forces them apart, shattering their connection and leaving them to navigate their lives alone.

Now, a decade later, fate reunites Annika and Jonathan in Chicago. She’s living the life she wanted as a librarian. He’s a Wall Street whiz, recovering from a divorce and seeking a fresh start. The attraction and strong feelings they once shared are instantly rekindled, but until they confront the fears and anxieties that drove them apart, their second chance will end before it truly begins.

 

Review:

I won this book for free through a Goodreads Giveaway. Thank you to Goodreads, Tracey Garvis Graves and St. Martin’s Press for an ARC copy. As always, an honest review from me. 

The book is absolutely amazing! There are not enough words to accurately describe how wonderful the read was, so I’m not even going to try. I will just say this: I’ve never done this before — not given a full in depth review of a book. That’s how special I found The Girl He Used to Know. But take my word for it, read this book! 

 

Do you ever feel like you don’t have the words to explain how amazing a book, movie, feeling is?

Bookish Posts · Uncategorized

My Bookish Goals for 2019

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Photo by freestocks.org on Pexels.com

It’s that time of year again . . . 

Everybody is making New Years Resolutions 

 

I don’t make resolutions. I don’t know about you, but those feel like too much pressure to me. There’s also the easy to fall into trap of making unattainable resolutions or ones that society deems acceptable. 

 

Ahem, I’m looking at you . . .

“I’m going to get bikini body ready for summer.” 

“I’m going to make $1 million this year.”

 

No judgment if those are your goals and you have specific and healthy steps to attain them, but I’m thinking more specific and personal this year. 

That’s why goals work so well for me. Goals seem to take the pressure off, while also encouraging me to focus on what’s truly important to me. 

 

So let’s get into my Bookish Goals for 2019 

 

  • Read only 100 books in a year (max of 120) 

Why? In 2018 I read 160 books, but the focus was more on quantity versus quality and savoring the reading experience. Limiting myself a bit also allows me to focus on other areas of life. And let’s be honest, 100 books in a year is still a lot.

  • Request/be accepted for 5-7 NetGalley books per month 

As many new book bloggers do, I requested & got accepted for way too many ARC books from NetGalley. While this is great (FREE BOOKS), I didn’t have as much flexibility to read what I wanted when I wanted. The reading schedule was REAL

  • 7 months or more of an average of 4.0 star rating

Why? This was my goal in 2018 as well. It helps to put my focus on reading books that I think I will really love. 

  • Participate in the Book Riot 2019 Read Harder Challenge 

I’ve been doing this for the past few years and really loved being introduced to books I never would have known about. I’m not forcing myself to finish the challenge or read books that I know I will strongly dislike just for the sake of completing the challenge. 

  • Participate in the 2019 Reading Women Challenge 

I just recently found out that this Reading Challenge existed, but I’m super excited to participate. My reasoning is similar to the Book Riot Challenge. 

  • Focus more on *POC/AOC, **county of origin, and LGBTQIA+ content in books 

I’ve had these goals for the past few years, but I’m continuing with them. I usually aim to hit 20% for each goal. It helps keep my reading well rounded and I am introduced to books I never would have found otherwise.

*POC- People of color (usually the main characters), AOC(Author of Color).

**Country of Origin: Countries other than the U.S., Canada, U.K., Australia 

 

Do you agree or disagree with my goals? What are your reading goals for the year? 

Let me know in the comments. I’m always really interested in what people prioritize in their reading journeys. 

 

3.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · non fiction · psychology · Self Help

Anger Management for Everyone: Ten Proven Strategies to Help You Control Anger and Live a Happier Life by Raymond Chip Tafrate, Howard Kassinove

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Anger Management for Everyone: Ten Proven Strategies to Help You Control Anger and Live a Happier Life by Raymond Chip Tafrate, Howard Kassinove

Published: January 2, 2019

Publisher: Impact

Pages: 256

Genres: self help, non fiction, psychology

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: people who have lots of conflicts with others, wanting to change yourself for the New Year, angry people 

Foodie Vibes: chamomile tea to help calm yourself 

 

Synopsis: 

We all get angry sometimes. But if you feel angry all of time—and if your anger makes others uncomfortable, creates distance in your relationships, disrupts your ability to think clearly and make good decisions, or otherwise results in behaviors that you regret or find embarrassing later—it’s time to make a change.

Written by two clinical psychologists with decades of experience using cognitive behavioral interventions to treat anger, Anger Management for Everyone provides a comprehensive, research-based program to keep anger in its place. This revised and updated second edition includes new information on the environmental effects on anger, such as hunger and sleep; new progressive muscle relaxation and mindfulness exercises; and new strategies and tips for improving social and interpersonal skills.

With the authors’ enhanced “Anger Episode Model,” and the ten proven-effective skills for anger management in this helpful guide, you’ll come to better understand and control your problem anger, learn how to cope with everyday disappointments and frustrations, and experience more happiness, success, and vitality in all areas of your life.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Impact, Raymond Chip Tafrate, and Howard Kassinove for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The beginning of the book was startling. The language made it seem as if it was written for people who are out of control angry. As I kept reading I learned that the techniques discussed can be used for most people. But before I go into my review of the book, let’s define anger. According to the book anger is an emotional reaction to the unwanted and often unexpected behavior of others. It often develops as a sense of threat. A very helpful definition. 

The book helps the reader to learn about anger in general, their own anger reactions, reason behind anger, many different suggestions to deal with anger, many examples to further explain the tools, and also activities to practice new anger reducing techniques that you’ve learned. Since there’s a lot of information, some of it is bound to resonate with and help you. I’m not an incredibly angry person, but I could relate to some of the techniques presented. I liked the suggested of avoidance as a valid response to anger. It’s not the only response a person should use, but sometimes it’s best in that moment. 

I didn’t think that the examples were very relatable to me. While they were plentiful and well explained, I couldn’t see myself represented in most of the them. Also regarding someone who constantly provokes an anger response in me; these techniques didn’t work when used with them. Not sure if that’s the techniques or they’re just a toxic person. 

Overall, a helpful book filled with many explanations and techniques to help you appropriately deal with your anger. 

 

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What helps you to deal with anger?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

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