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review 2019-02-19 18:45
THE PLAYING CARD KILLER by Russell James
The Playing Card Killer (Fiction Without Frontiers) - Russell James

 

THE PLAYING CARD KILLER was one twisty-turny thriller of a ride!

 

Brian is tired of taking anxiety meds as he's been taking them his entire life. He decides to quit them cold turkey and see what life is really like. Unfortunately, his panic and anxiety attacks return and they seem worse than ever. Also, he can't sleep without having terrible nightmares wherein he's strangling people. When Brian learns that the victims he's seeing in his dreams are actually being killed, his anxiety ramps up to a previously unknown level. Is he murdering people while he's asleep in some kind of sleepwalking trance? How could he do such a thing? You'll have to read this book to find out!

 

It's hard to talk about this story without spoilers, but I'll give it my best shot. While I don't think this tale added anything new to the thriller genre, I do think it gave an unflinching look at anxiety and panic attacks. In fact, it personified them in the form of Mr. Jitters and that WAS new. To be honest, Mr. Jitters freaked me out. I've had personal, close up experience of what panic and anxiety attacks can do to a person and I've seen what the meds can do as well. There's nothing good about any of it and this book addresses those facts head on.

 

I loved the characterization in this book, especially that of Brian and Detective Weissbard. They came across as real to me, with real life concerns and problems. I could understand why Brian wanted to be off of his meds and why it was so important to him.

 

The only problems I really had with this story was that Weissbard's boss was a caricature of a "bad cop" and I thought that came across as a bit silly, even though I did hate the guy. Also, the real antagonist of this story didn't seem quite real to me at first, but as the tale progressed, I warmed up to him and I could see where he was coming from.

 

Overall, this fast paced story flew by and I enjoyed it. I think fans of psychological horror, serial killer stories and police procedurals would enjoy THE PLAYING CARD KILLER as well!

 

Recommended!

 

 

You can buy your copy here: THE PLAYING CARD KILLER 

 

*Thank you to Flame Tree Press for the paperback copy in exchange for my honest feedback. This is it.*

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review 2019-02-03 23:27
The Color Thief - Andrew Fusek Peters

This is a lovely story that was introduced to me by a school counselor in a classroom that I observed. This book illustrates depression through the eye of a child. It is about a father that is battling depression and it sucks the color out of his child's world. As the father gets help, color returns and their world seems brighter. My favorite part of this book is how it illustrates that depression affects the whole family, not just the individual. I think that this book would be great to show children who experience depression in their family. 

 

Lexile: NP

 

Reading Level: Pre K- 3rd grade

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review 2019-02-03 23:04
The Princess and the Fog: A Story for Children with Depression - Lloyd Jones

This is a lovely story that was introduced to me by a school counselor in a classroom that I observed. It is about a princess that has a nasty fog around her. With the help of her persistent friend, she is able to open up about the fog and how it affects her. I particularly like this book because of how well it illustrates symptoms of depression and the treatments that help control the fog. I also like how the fog doesn't go away in the story, just as depression doesn't go away in the real world. The princess does however have tools to help whenever the fog comes back, such as potions (medication), and her friends and family to talk to.

 

Lexile: AD510

 

Reading Level: 2nd- 3rd grade

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review 2019-02-03 22:15
Danny and the Blue Cloud - James M Foley

This is a lovely story that was introduced to me by a school counselor in a classroom that I observed. It is about a bear named Danny that was born with a blue cloud over his head.  With the help of his friends, he learns some tips to help him turn his cloud into a rainbow. This book is great for helping kids cope with childhood depression and how parents can help as well. 

 

Lexile: AD580

 

Reading Level: Pre K- 3rd grade

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review 2019-01-24 09:03
A heart-wrenching read about one girl’s experience inside an institution as mental illness takes over; Sheinmel brings attention to the stigma around the issue in this important book
A Danger to Herself and Others - Alyssa B. Sheinmel

Hannah Gold has been ‘wrongly institutionalized’, for something that was obviously an accident; her best friend Agnes took a horrific fall (pushed?), ending up in the ICU, her life forever changed. But Hannah’s life is forever changed too, she has been sent away to languish in an institution, missing valuable time before school starts, being evaluated at a judge’s order by a doctor, and with nothing but time to figure out how to get herself out of there.

Hannah has been deemed ‘a danger to herself and others’.

 

The novel starts with Hannah just arriving at ‘the institute’ and the book follows her entire experience there, told in first-person and very much as though it’s comes from deep within Hannah’s complex, non-stop brain. All her anxieties and questions spill out constantly, her thinking is erratic, and she darts back and forth from the present and past as she tries to make sense of what is happening. She is highly intelligent so she knows that if she make friends and gets certain people on her side, maybe she can gain privileges and shorten her stay. Her roommate Lucy understands her, and it seems Dr. Lightfoot is going along with her plan.

This starts out feeling like a thriller, but we gradually are caught up in Hannah’s convoluted thought-processes, and it’s a novel about what it looks like when a young girl’s mental illness takes over and how her unraveling takes hold, even when she thinks she is in control. 

 

This book is one of the most artfully brilliant books written with regards to what mental illness can look like, and I really felt gripped by every page because of it. Author Alyssa Sheinmel has done more than write a YA novel, she has written an experience on paper. People fear mental illness, and right they should. It’s scary. 

I read this book and at times I felt like I was losing grasp of things just like Hannah was. And I have also been in that place myself before. Not to the same extent but I’ve been through my own personal trials that have led me to therapy, to panic attacks, to struggle with depression, anxiety, self-harm and twice (many years ago now) having a stay at the hospital (at my choice) after traumatic events. It’s frightening to feel like your mind is not your own, and to feel like you need help. In Hannah’s case, she doesn’t even realize it. And then she becomes A Danger to Herself and Others.

 

Mental illness has SUCH a stigma to it and it needs to change so that people will reach out to get HELP, offer help, and make help more available. People need to be able to talk about it and not turn away. Sufferers shouldn’t be getting more ill or even dying because they can’t or won’t get help. HELP shouldn’t be a dirty word. Mental health treatment is also woefully expensive in this country and often not covered by insurance.

Sheinmel is right to not even put a specific name on the illness that Hannah suffers from because at the end of the day, does it really matter? If she had done that with this story, her character, with all her flaws as well as her wonderful attributes, would have been reduced to her diagnosis. Which is what we tend to do once we know what people are suffering from. We tend to forget that they are people (like Hannah), not statistics or names of illnesses. 

 

This is a thought-provoking, heart-wrenching read, and it will surprise you as much as it will keep you guessing. It left me with tears in my eyes and I hope that this will encourage more understanding and compassion for those affected by mental illness. 

 

*I gratefully received this ARC as part of Miss Print’s ARC Adoption Program. Thank you!

 

 A Danger to Herself and Others will be published on 2.5.19 by Sourcebooks.

 

 

 

**If you or a loved one needs help for mental illness, or you just want more information about mental health, contact NAMI, the National Alliance for Mental Illness.

 

 

Source: www.goodreads.com/book/show/39986808-a-danger-to-herself-and-others
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