A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn

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Interesting and intelligent mystery!
Thanks to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review A Curious Beginning by Deanna Raybourn!
Veronica is an orphan who has been raised by her Aunt Nell and Aunt Lucy. They weren’t really her aunts but they gave her what she needed. The story opens as Veronica attends the funeral for Aunt Nell. Afterwards, as she’s entering the cottage she resides in, she realizes someone has ransacked the place. She assumes that a burglar was trying to steal whatever they could find after her aunt’s passing. A baron comes to escort her to London for her safety and Veronica can’t fathom that anyone might harm her. She thinks she’s unimportant and happily so. The baron takes her to his friend’s house to keep her safe. This friend goes by the name of Stoker and he’s a complete enigma to Veronica. Little by little, they get to know each other and each other’s stories and secrets. Soon enough, Veronica’s life is threatened and the secret surrounding the danger is brought to light. The secret is a whopper! This is a wonderful mystery filled with intelligent and interesting characters set in Victorian London. I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the series, 5 stars!

How We Became Wicked by Alexander Yates

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Young adult dystopian!
Thanks to NetGalley and Simon & Schuster for the opportunity to read and review How We Became Wicked by Alexander Yates.
The story opens as Astrid notices the lighthouse that has been unlit for a long time, coming to life. She wakes up her neighbor Hank. The community is annoyed at Astrid because she keeps talking about the light being on in the lighthouse. She thinks they’re upset because they’re hiding something. The story felt somewhat drawn out and not as exciting, dangerous or suspenseful as I would have liked it to be. This could have been a truly scary story if it was built up more. I did like how creepy the wicker’s comments were because they were spoken so calmly. 3 stars for this young adult dystopian

What I Want You to See by Catherine Linka

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Interesting and unique story!
Thanks to NetGalley and Disney Book Group for the opportunity to read and review What I Want You to See by Catherine Linka!
Sabine has lost her mother and is now on her own. She’s attending art school and has great talent. She’s attending due to a scholarship but her art teacher is harsh and without his recommendation, she won’t keep her scholarship and will have to drop out of school. Sabine gets conned into practicing and perfecting her artistic skills by secretly painting a replica of her tough professor’s painting, that has yet to be revealed. This painting has already been sold for almost a million dollars but when it’s put out for the art exhibition, Sabine knows it’s not the professor’s painting but her copy because she can see her flaws. She’s devastated and realizes she was tricked and now she’s going to be the fall guy because the con man has fled. The story touches on homelessness and college students who struggle to make ends meet. The author has given information about homelessness in her ending notes. Riveting suspense and food for thought. 4 stars!

Malice by Pintip Dunn

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I enjoyed this book more than any other Pintip Dunn book (that I have read). The concept is unique and the character growth and depth is profound.
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Teen for the opportunity to read and review Malice by Pintip Dunn!
Alice begins to hear a voice that’s telling her what to do. She soon realizes that the voice belongs to her future self, and is warning present time Alice, about a future virus that is going to destroy the world. Future Alice wants her to kill the virus maker. As the story unfolds, I kept thinking that I had figured out who the virus maker was, but I just kept getting hit with one surprise after another! The story concept is interesting and I especially like the mystery surrounding the virus maker. Bandit is intriguing but I want to know more about Zeke. Alice goes through a whirlwind of back and forth time travel, possible futures and the shocks and surprises that are thrown at her. This is the absolute best Pintip Dunn book I’ve read! 4 stars!

The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu

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The Kingdom of Back by Marie Lu tells the story of Mozart and his older sister Nannerl when they were children and the fantastical world they discover together through their musical talent. I absolutely love how Marie Lu based this story on sources she found while reading about Mozart. She discovered that he did have a sister and they shared compositions along with their love of music, as well as their co-created stories of the Kingdom of Back. The historical based story fascinates me and I enjoyed every minute reading this fantasy. The struggles Nannerl dealt with because of the day and age she was born in were unfair but she persevered as much as she could. I love this story and give it a full 5 stars!

Echoes Between Us by Katie McGarry

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Controversial issues and thought provoking!
Thanks to NetGalley and Tor Teen, Edelweiss and Bookish First for the opportunity to read and review Echoes Between Us by Katie McGarry!
Veronica has an awesome father who drives trucks and makes waffles. Sawyer moves into the three story house that Veronica lives in. Veronica and her father live on the third and second floor. Sawyer lives with his little sister Lucy and their mom on the first floor. Supposedly the house is haunted. Veronica gets migraines and ghosts often accompany her headaches. She’s unsure whether the ghosts are truly there or hallucinations. Veronica’s deceased mother often appears and she wants to believe her mom’s ghost is watching over her. Veronica has a benign brain tumor but she does her best to live her life despite the wrenching headaches that disable her. Sawyer is tired of his mom controlling his life and he’s sick of her drinking. The two of them develop a relationship and help each other deal with their struggles.
Several controversial topics are explored in this book, the use of medical marijuana, if ghosts are real or not, choosing or denying treatment for an illness, addiction, enabling addiction and self-care.
4 thought-provoking stars!

Laughter Yoga by Madan Kataria, M.D.

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Great reasons to keep laughing!
Thanks to NetGalley And Penguin Books for the opportunity to read and review Laughter Yoga: Daily Practices for Health and Happiness by Madan Kataria, M.D.!
The book takes readers through the origins or beginnings of Laughter Yoga and what this practice actually is and onto the process and how it works. Then it teaches how to laugh more alone and within a group, the shared benefits, and gives ideas for using Laughter Yoga. A Laughter Quotient Quiz opens the book and allows readers to rate the amount of laughter in their lives. I have a laughter quotient of 78 which falls in the category of “you are good at laughing, but you can do better”. Laughter Yoga practice starts with stretching, clapping and chanting which can lead to a playful attitude and onto laughter, especially in a group setting. Deep breathing exercises prepare us for belly laughing which is a healing laughter. A regular session has fifteen steps and lasts about twenty minutes but alternative options are shared to vary the session experiences. Yoga nidra is explained also. This is putting your body to sleep while your mind stays awake. This practice helps rejuvenate a person and thirty minutes of yoga nidra equals two hours of regular sleep. Fascinating practice that I tried and I agree with the helpful results. Three key tips for laughter yoga are to know laughter, do laughter and be laughter. Wonderful reasons for making laughter a part of daily life, 5 stars!

Close Calls by Michael P. Spradlin

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Fascinating information about our country’s past presidents!
Thanks to NetGalley And Bloomsbury Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Close Calls by Michael P. Spradlin.
A collection of short stories describes how eleven of past United States presidents escaped “from the brink of death”. The book begins with the threats to George Washington and continues throughout the centuries to the first President Bush. It seems that we learn about the assassinations only but never the attempts that aren’t successful or the other dangers presidents have been in. I never realized that JFK almost died in a boat crash while serving during World War II just as I hadn’t realized how many death threats President Lincoln received. Fascinating information and snippets of facts sprinkled throughout the book make it an interesting nonfiction read. 5 stars!

Kaizen by Sarah Harvey

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Guide to making and keeping better habits!
Thanks to NetGalley And The Experiment for the opportunity to read and review Kaizen- The Japanese Secret to Lasting Change by Sarah Harvey!
The book’s contents include how to start Kaizen, health, work, money, home, relationships, habits and challenges, stumbling blocks, and change for good. “Kaizen isn’t about change for change’s sake, but about identifying particular goals-both short-term and long-term-and then making small, manageable steps to achieve those goals.” Taking small steps in making changes is the absolute key. Kaizen is meant to be tweaked to your individual needs and goals. Continuous improvement is the philosophy of Kaizen. This informative book is filled with helpful tips for every aspect of our lives that break everything into manageable pieces to make improvements easier! Educational, instructional, enlightening and inspiring! 5 stars!

The Lonely Dead by April Henry

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A mystery with a touch of the paranormal!
Thanks to NetGalley and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for the opportunity to read and review The Lonely Dead by April Henry!
Adele has inherited the ability to see, feel and converse with ghosts, human and animal, from her mother and grandmother. She lives with her grandfather who has watched both his wife and daughter struggle with this ability and neither of them to good ends. They’re both deceased and he’s raising Adele the best he can. She’s been on medication for schizophrenia for years but she’s now realized that she’s not schizophrenic; she can actually see ghosts. Tori, who was her best friend in elementary school, has just been murdered and Adele discovers Tori’s body in a shallow grave. Tori was having a party while her parents weren’t home and no one has seen her since, until Adele finds her ghost next to the shallow grave. A mystery surrounds Tori’s death and suspects include everyone at the party and a few adults. Adele drank at the party and doesn’t remember everything she did and she begins to worry that she might be the murderer. Adele has to learn how to handle seeing and being able to converse with ghosts in a quiet manner, so people don’t think she’s crazy. Adele also struggles to find true friends.
A quick mystery that’s enjoyable to read, 4 stars!