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!

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

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

 

Come say hi!

Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · mental health · non fiction · psychology · Self Help

ARC Review | Are u ok?: A Guide to Caring for Your Mental Health by Kati Morton 

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Are u ok?: A Guide to Caring for Your Mental Health by Kati Morton

Published: December 11, 2018

Publisher: De Capo Lifelong Books 

Pages: 256

Genres: non fiction, mental health, psychology, self help

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: improving yourself. greater access to mental health services, compassionate professionals

Foodie Vibes: healthy foods, for your specific health needs, that fuels your mind and body 

 

Synopsis:

A licensed marriage and family therapist and You Tube personality, Kati Morton answers the most commonly asked questions about mental health, including when to get help and where to find it.

Everyone struggles with mental health issues from time to time, but the greatest level of misunderstanding comes from knowing the difference between mental health and mental illness, figuring out whether we need professional help and, if so, how to find it. Are u ok? walks readers through the most commonly asked questions about mental health and the process of getting help. From finding the best therapist to navigating harmful and toxic relationships and everything in between, licensed marriage and family therapist and YouTube sensation Kati Morton clarifies and de-stigmatizes the struggles so many of us go through, and encourages readers to reach out for help. What are the red flags of a mental health issue? How do you go about making a first therapy appointment? How do you know if your therapist is a good fit for you? What are the best ways of talking about mental health with your family, friends and colleagues? There are so many questions and concerns, and in the down-to-earth, friendly tone that makes Kati Morton so popular on YouTube, Are u ok? informs and reminds us that we can get through the difficult times and we are never alone.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, De Capo Lifelong Books, and Kati Morton for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me. 

Are u okay? is a comprehensive easy to understand book about the therapy process. The text includes information about what it is, explanations of acronyms, types of therapy, different professionals, what to expect with the actual therapy session, navigating insurance & payment, advocating for yourself and more. There’s even a quick bullet point summary of the vital information in the appendix. It’s a very approachable read. It’s great for someone who doesn’t know much about the therapy process or those looking to learn more about mental health. People who are familiar with therapy can still learn from the book, but some topics will already be known to them. 

I liked the writing style. It’s factual but informal to make those unsure about the therapy process feel comfortable. Also if you’ve watched Kati Morton’s videos on YouTube, her unique voice definitely carries over into her book. However, I can see where some people, possibly the older generation, might not be as comfortable with this more casual tone. 

Overall, I think there’s a lot of great information that can help a lot of people. Everyone can learn something from her book. A wonderful resource for people who are considering therapy or know someone considering therapy. 

Also definitely check out her YouTube channel for all things mental health. 

 

Add to your Goodreads TBR

 

Kati Morton’s YouTube Channel 

 

 

 

 

Come say hi!

Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

 

5 Star Books · Book Reviews · Medical · mental health · non fiction · Self Help

When Life Hits the Fan: A Mindful Guide to Caring for Yourself While Caring For Others by Janet Fouts

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When Life Hits the Fan: A Mindful Guide to Caring for Yourself While Caring For Others by Janet Fouts

Published: August 15, 2018

Publisher: Tatu Digital Media

Pages: 162

Genres: non fiction, self help, mental health, medical

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: resources to help with caregiving, all types of caregivers, learning to cope with the demands of caregiving – sanely

Foodie Vibes: quick nutritious cheap meals to fuel you for all the demands of the day

 

Synopsis:

More than 44 million Americans provide care for family members and friends with chronic illness or conditions that require day to day assistance.

In general, caregivers do this out of real compassion and love, or a sense of duty for the person they are caring for.

Often they find themselves thrown into roles that are unfamiliar and sometimes scary; like managing through the medical and insurance system to gain the best possible care for their loved one or understanding the options in the middle of a medical emergency. Stress levels can go through the roof, and over time stress wreaks havoc on the caregiver as well as their loved one.

If the caregiver also has a family, a job, and other responsibilities and caring for their loved one is added to their current roles. While it is a labor of love, it can be exhausting over time, and things start to fall through the cracks, including caring for their own health.

When Life Hits the Fan shares the experiences of a number of caregivers and activities that they can do to take care of themselves, body and soul. The practices in the book come from the author’s training in mindfulness, emotional intelligence and positive psychology as well as her own caregiving journey.

With a practical approach to stress reduction and easy to follow exercises, When Life Hits the Fan helps us understand what’s going on inside our minds and our bodies and ways to create resilience and care for ourselves.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Tatu Digital Media and Janet Fouts for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The book is exactly what I needed to read, as a caregiver. Seriously, if you’re a caregiver in any form, then you need to read the book. The information was so relatable, honest and helpful that I’m going to check out the author’s website for even more caregiving resources.

Maybe you’ve heard the phrase “care for the caregiver.” It is absolutely true. We can’t take care of everyone else without first taking care of ourselves. It’s simply not sustainable in the long run. And most of us are caregivers, in some capacity, for the long term. The author teaches that your compassion needs to extend to yourself or it’s incomplete. So true!

The book is short but packed with helpful information and compassion. The author truly gets what it’s like to be a caregiver. The self care suggested is practical, affordable, generally short in duration, and can be done almost anywhere. I’ve heard some of these suggestions before, but it’s nice to have it all in one book.

When Life Hits the Fan would be great for reading while waiting for your loved one’s appointments, during a few minutes of downtime, etc. The book is accessible, helpful and comes from a compassionate place. I highly highly recommend it if you’re a caregiver in any capacity. 

 

How many of you are caregivers?

What do you do for self care?

 

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Twitter: @BooksAndLife1

Instagram: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

Goodreads: Amanda (Books, Life and Everything Nice)

Facebook: @BooksLifeAndEverythingNice

3.5 Star Books · Book Reviews · coming of age · Literary Fiction · mental health · Young Adult

Drowning In Light by Anna Benoit

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Drowning in Light by Anna Benoit

Published: August 5, 2017

Publisher: Self Published

Pages: 350

Genres: young adult, coming of age, literary fiction, mental health

Rating: 3.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: flawed characters, books about drug abuse

Foodie Vibes: meals you don’t finish, more alcohol and pills can you can comprehend 

 

Synopsis: 

It all started with a single pain pill.

Up until that pill, high school junior Matt Davidson had it all—or, at least, everyone thought he had it all. A star athlete from a good family, no one suspected the trouble lurking beneath Matt’s carefully constructed façade. And Matt was just fine with that. Because if anyone could hear the dark thoughts that cluttered his mind, they’d know what a selfish, miserable mess he really was.

Matt thinks he can stop. He knows he can stop. And he will, just not yet. Because nothing but the pills can give him a break from his thoughts. Nothing else makes him invincible. Nothing else halts the sinking spiral of his depression.

Nothing… until he meets Amy, a mysterious and beautiful classmate who sparks a passion in him he’s never felt before. As their relationship progresses, Matt knows he can’t have them both. But he also knows he needs his pills. And when he’s finally forced to choose, the decision isn’t as easy as he’d hoped.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley and Anna Benoit for an ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

Drowning in Light tells the story of Matt, a guy in high school. On the outside he seems to have to all. But if you look closer, his dad’s abusive and has alcohol problems of his own. His mom means well, but doesn’t realize the extent of her son’s problems. She’s content to let things go and believe it will all work out in the end. Matt struggles with drug abuse that has him in a downward spiral. He’s miserable, not coping well, and really doesn’t have a handle on anything anymore. 

The book is not your typical manic pixie dream girl type story. It’s real, raw and complex. His friend/girlfriend doesn’t magically make things better. She tries to help, but has her own baggage to deal with so it’s not a perfect recovery story by any means. I like that it’s a fairly realistic story of drug abuse. I don’t have personal experience with drug abuse, so maybe I’m way off base here. 

However, it was very frustrating at times to read about all of his mistakes and refusal for help. I felt very annoyed towards Matt at times. Also his lifestyle wasn’t that enjoyable to read about. Duh, it’s drug abuse, doing whatever you need to score more pills, and lying to everyone. But I guess I was hoping for more positivity at some point. I was also so frustrated with the adults in his life. Nobody was taking responsibility for making sure Matt got the help he so desperately needed. 

All in all, a realistic portrayal of drug abuse that made for a frustrating read. A good book that doesn’t gloss of the difficult parts of mental illness and drug abuse. 

 

Are you a fan of books with flawed characters? 

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. 

 

5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Essays · non fiction

New Release | Today’s Moment of Happiness Despite the News by Kathie Giorgio

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Today’s Moment of Happiness Despite the News by Kathie Giorgio

Published: October 4, 2018

Publisher: Black Rose Writing

Pages: 529

Genres: essay, non fiction

Rating: 5 stars

Recommend to fans of: unique quirky books, reminders to appreciate the good in life

Foodie Vibes: Starbucks coffee

 

Synopsis:

It wasn’t a typical response to depression. Reaching a new low in her life, Kathie Giorgio, a natural skeptic, decides to fight her sadness by publically posting one moment of happiness every day on Facebook.

The response is overwhelming. People flock to her page to see each day’s new post. Soon, Kathie launches Today’s Moment Of Happiness Despite The News as her blog. She vows to continue this daily Today’s Moment for a year.

And what a year! Her husband loses his job not once, but twice. Her autistic daughter is so bullied on social media, she is moved to a new school. And Kathie herself is diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer.

In a year of Down, Kathie finds Up. Today’s Moment Of Happiness Despite The News is a powerhouse movement, a force that goes beyond positive thinking. One year. One woman. And many, many lives touched and changed.

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Black Rose Writing and Kathie Giorgio for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

The book is the author’s collection of blog posts from her journey to find a moment of happiness, despite the news and current political climate, for a year. The concept is not brand new. Daily gratitudes, blessings, happiness, joy, what are you thankful for, and many other forms of the same concept are prevalent online. As they should be. We need all the positivity we can find. The author adds her own unique touch to her writing. It’s quirky, fun, heartfelt, honest and completely engaging. Despite the difficult times in life, the book radiated pure joy. The author had some tough times in 2017, but her writing made me so happy. Experiencing her learn to find happiness in incredibly unhappy situations is beautiful, inspiring, and educating to me, on my own journey of life.

The book also gave me my new favorite word of this week, asshat! Of course referring to the orange man in the White House. So many thanks for the glorious word!

There weren’t any cons in the book for me. Even a few days after finishing, the memories from reading it wrap me up in a big blanket of warmth, happiness and a positive practical perspective on life.

So overall, an absolute joy to read. The highlight of my week. I highly recommend Today’s Moment of Happiness Despite the News!

 

In keeping with the author’s theme, what’s your moment of happiness today? 

Please share in the comments. I love hearing about everyone’s happy moments! 

4.5 Star Books · ARC Book Reviews · Book Reviews · Chick Lit · Chronic Illness/Disabilities · contemporary fiction · Domestic Fiction · drama · Literary Fiction · mental health · Women's Fiction

New Release | The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt

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The Secrets We Keep by Kate Hewitt

Published: September 4, 2018

Publisher: Bookouture

Pages: 356

Genres: women’s fiction, literary fiction, mental health, domestic fiction, chick lit, drama

Rating: 4.5 stars

Recommend to fans of: moms with psychological struggles trying to keep it all together, validating books about mental health and self harm

Foodie Vibes: pina coladas, takeout pizza and marshmallows roasted over an open fire pit

 

Synopsis:

‘Is her life as easy and effortless as it seems from the outside? Or is she feeling lonely, all by herself in that big house, an evening stretching out in front of her just as it is for me?’

When Tessa arrives at the little house by the lake with her two children Ben and Katherine, it is an escape. For all of them. Never mind that the rental house is a bit small – it’s theirs for the summer. A place to hide…

Their isolation is disrupted when they meet the family from the big house next door. Three children Charlotte, Zoe and Max and their glamorous mother Rebecca – who seems absolutely determined to invite Tessa in to their lives.

But Rebecca is harbouring a dark secret of her own. One that will put not only her family at risk, but Tessa’s too. And when she discovers she has no option but to leave her children for several weeks, Tessa feels like the only person she can trust.

Suddenly Tessa finds herself living a life she could only have dreamed of. Wealth, a large brood of children, and Rebecca’s handsome husband Josh visiting at weekends.

But even as powerful bonds are forming between them, secrets have a way of catching up with people. And as the summer comes to an end, who will learn to love again and who will risk losing everything?

 

Review:

Thank you to NetGalley, Bookouture, and Kate Hewitt for an ARC ebook copy to review. As always, an honest review from me.

First of all, Trigger Warning for self harm and child sexual abuse.

Keeping yourself safe is most important, so make sure you’re in a healthy place before reading, my lovelies.

Feel free to send me a message on here, or a DM on Twitter for more privacy, if you want to know more about content that may trigger you.

Now onto the book review.

It seems as if everyone is keeping secrets from those around them. Pretending that they’re okay, when they’re anything but. I think we all can relate to this.

Over summer vacation 2 moms, Tessa and Rebecca, take their kids to summer vacation cottages. They didn’t know each other before the summer, but they end up neighbors, friends, and changing each other’s lives forever. They say it’s because their kids need playmates, but both moms know they need each other’s help more. Tessa has 2 kids, is in dire need of a makeover, constantly doubts herself, and has enough money but still must live by a budget. Rebecca has 3 kids, a glamorous lifestyle, a seemingly perfect life, more money than she can spend, and some serious issues going on. Hence the trigger warning. People are jealous of how well put together she seems, but inside she’s a wreck, just trying to get through the day.

I appreciated that self harm in adults is discussed. And not as a one off conversation. As a legitimate mental health concern that is featured throughout the novel. If you’re looking for good representation of self harm in adults, this is your book. 

The overall story the author tells of moms as people first that also care fiercely for their children is refreshing. And you can’t go wrong with a summer cottage on the lake story.

The only caveat that I have is the weird situation that is thrust upon one of the moms about halfway through the story. I can’t give away any spoilers, but it’s kind of a you need to go with the flow story line and not critique that it probably isn’t realistic. Oh, also the ending completely wrecked me. So I can see how some people might have an issue with it. 

Overall, The Secrets We Keep featured some truly broken adults who are trying to hold it together to care for their children. A wonderful authentic representation of adult self harm. I highly recommend, as long as you won’t be too triggered.  

 

If you want some helpful information or support about these serious topics, click the links below

RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network)

Self-Harm Crisis Text Hotline

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness)

 

Do trigger warnings help you to choose a book?

Everyone has different triggers. Which ones would be helpful to you, that I mention in my future reviews?

Bookish Posts

Mental Health Awareness Through Reading

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May is Mental Health Awareness Month.

The more we talk, tweet, write blog posts about mental health, the more people are aware of these conditions. 

I think there’s more to awareness than just the basic “hey, now more people know about depression or binge eating disorder or schizophrenia”. 

Truly understanding the challenges, struggles, and daily life of a person who deals with these mental health conditions is more ideal.

 

What better way to do this, than through books? 

 

Reading is a unique way to experience the human condition of mental health. As many of you all know, books allow us to transport ourselves to another country, lifestyle, personal situation, etc.

Below I have listed some books that center around mental health. It’s definitely not inclusive, but rather books that I have read, enjoyed, and think represent mental health and illness well. 

 

Fiction

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened by Allie Brosh (depression)

Black Box by Julie Schumacher (depression)

The Woman in the Window by A.J. Finn (agoraphobia, anxiety)

Where’d You Go Bernadette by Maria Temple (anxiety, panic disorders)

OCD Love Story by Corey Ann Haydu (OCD)

This is How I Find Her by Sara Polsky (bipolar disorder)

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert (bipolar disorder)

Paperweight by Meg Haston (eating disorder)

Saving Ruth by Zoe FIshman (eating disorder)

Pretend We Are Lovely by Noley Reid (eating disorder, grief)

Speak by Laure Halse Anderson (trauma) – also check out the newly released graphic novel by the same name

Cutters Don’t Cry by Christine Dzidrums (self harm)

 

Memoirs

When They Call You a Terrorist: a Black Live Matter Memoir by Patrisse Khan-Cullors (mental health system)

Floating: a Life Regained by Joe Minihane (depression, anxiety)

Pound for Pound: A Story of One Woman’s Recovery and the Shelter Dogs Who Loved Her Back to Life by Shannon Kopp (eating disorder)

In the Water They Can’t See You Cry by Amanda Beard (depression, bulimia, self harm, alcohol & drug abuse)

 

If you want more information about about mental health in general visit NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness at https://www.nami.org

Peace and love, 

Amanda