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!

Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith

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Interesting characters wrapped up in intrigue!
Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt for the opportunity to read and review Bloodleaf by Crystal Smith!
Witchcraft is forbidden in Aurelia’s kingdom and the story opens as she’s sadly watching two women hang for performing witchcraft. Aurelia has performed her share of magic, even though she’s the princess. She’s being sent away to Achleva to marry the prince. In his kingdom, magic is allowed. Along the way, a plot is revealed and she escapes on her own. She disguises herself as a maid and meets other commoners, befriends them and helps them. Someone is trying to break seals and release dark magic and they finally discover who has been breaking them, only after they’ve lost a wonderful friend. I love the part when the prince stands up to the king, speaking the truth about the seal breaker. The king’s reaction raises suspicion. Some of the transitions could be more clear between reality and Aurelia’s visions but for the most part, the visions add depth to the plot. Aurelia loses people she loves and she discovers her true origins. Unpredictable and entertaining, Bloodleaf kept me riveted to the end, 4 stars!

Illuminightmare by Lucy Brownridge

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An interactive look at the supernatural!
Thanks to NetGalley, Wide Eyed Editions and Quarto Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Illuminightmare with illustrations by Carnovsky and written by Lucy Brownridge. Three lenses are included with the book, a red lens to view earthly history, a green lens to view places and the surroundings, and a blue lens to view ghostly, supernatural images. Each spotlighted place has its own section containing pages of overlapping colors and images and a list of what to look for through the lenses, descriptions of each item on the list gives tidbits of interesting information. Some places featured are the Winter Palace, Salem, Massachusetts, The Black Forest, the Giza Pyramids, and Picton in Australia. Magnificent and highly interactive to pique the interest of history and geography buffs of all ages! 5 stars for interactive fun!

Hope and Other Punchlines by Julie Buxbaum

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Insight into 9/11 and its effect on New York citizens and the aftermath, 5 stars!
The editor/publisher note at the beginning explains the intent of the book and I’m interested. Chapter one introduces Abbi and I’m hooked! She’s known as Baby Hope because she was photographed on the morning of 9/11 with a red balloon and a paper crown while a tower was crumbling in the background. She’s turning sixteen. Abbi gets a job at a kids’ day camp a county or two away from her home. No one should know she’s Baby Hope or recognize her. She has people approach her all the time. Noah also works at the camp and recognizes Abbi from school but he keeps her Baby Hope identity a secret for her. Some 9/11 survivors have been diagnosed with cancer in different forms because of the debris they were exposed to. Abbi has started coughing up blood but she doesn’t want anyone to know just yet. She wants to have a normal teenage summer. Noah has a mission to identify the three unknown people in the 9/11 Baby Hope photo that have been unidentified all these years. Noah sets up interviews with everyone in the photo that have been identified. The survivors and Hope help him figure out each of the photographed people and this opens up an entirely new story to swallow. I absolutely love this book and the characters, character dynamics and character development! The author does an amazing job weaving tragedy and hope together with the every day happenings of those left behind.

The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz

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That ending was so much more than I expected!
Thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Young Readers for the opportunity to read and review The Queen’s Assassin by Melissa de la Cruz!
After the king dies in battle, his best friend makes a bonding vow with the queen to protect her and the royal heir, as well as search for the magical documents and sacred scrolls that have been missing. He has pledged his life and his heir’s life to the queen until the scrolls are found and returned. Eighteen years later, we meet Shadow and Caledon Holt (he’s the best friend’s son, the kingdom’s deadliest weapon and the Queen’s assassin). Shadow is exploring around the Abbey when Caledon saves her life by killing her would-be assassin. The bad thing is that the man Caledon kills is the queen’s brother-in-law, Prince Alast. Alast proves himself a traitor, which is shocking to Caledon. The Queen sends Caledon to Deersia Prison to appease the public and keep the traitorous evidence secret. She wants Caledon to spy and find out where the traitors stem from. Shadow catches a ride to Deersia prison as a stowaway and finds Cal and helps him escape. They move onto Montrice to discover if there’s a spy conspiring against their kingdom and Queen. Shadow and Cal are fun, dynamic characters that work together well but drive each other crazy too. I enjoyed the humor in this book as well as the intrigue and magic. The ending left me ready to read the sequel! 5 stars!

A Sorrow Fierce and Falling by Jessica Cluess

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Interesting character development!
Thanks to NetGalley and Random House for the opportunity to read and review A Sorrow Fierce and Falling by Jessica Cluess!
Now that Blackwood and Nettie are engaged, they are able to fully work together. They move to Blackwood’s estate, Sorrow Fell, and Nettie discovers the curse that goes along with the stolen Fae dwelling. The Blackwood bride deteriorates for decades. Blackwood becomes Imperator and the power changes him and not in a good way. He craves honor, love and acceptance, which he never received from his parents. He yearns to control everything and this puts a wall between himself and Nettie. As the Ancients get closer, the sorcerers, magicians and witches struggle with leadership and the possibility of working together. This third and last book of the series contains more emotional upheavals and ups and downs, as well as great character development! Jessica Cluess has proven herself as a wonderful fantasy author and I would love to read this series again, 5 stars!

The Night Country by Melissa Albert

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Thanks to NetGalley, Edelweiss and Flatiron Books for the opportunity to read and review The Night Country!
The sequel to The Hazel Wood has danger, deception, and characters struggling to find purpose in this world. When murders occur, the Ex-story characters try to stick together for safety and strength. Alice feels that she’s being blamed and, after she’s attacked, she vows to capture whoever or whatever is harming others. Mysterious and twisty, The Night Country weaves worlds, characters, and creators into a fight for life, 4 stars!