The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

A story of great strength, determination, and unbelievable perseverance!

Elsinore has grown up feeling ugly, unloved, and like she’s a burden to her family. They tell her she’s too tall, not pretty, and sickly. It’s the 1920’s and women tend to be married and have children by the time they’re twenty years old and Elsinore is twenty-five. She wants a change and wants to enjoy life so she cuts her waist-length hair to her chin and buys red silk and creates a flapper dress. She sneaks out one night to go to the speakeasy in town but they won’t let her in and tell her to go home when they realize it’s her. She walks down the street and meets an eighteen-year-old Italian man who wants to have fun. They both admit they’re lonely and see each other a few times to have sex. Rafe calls Elsinore “Els”; she likes the nickname and feels wanted when she’s with him. She ends up with morning sickness and her parents disown her and her father takes her and one packed suitcase to Rafe’s family farm. Elsinore’s father tells Rafe’s parents what’s going on and leaves her there, stating that their family is done with her. Rafe’s parents have saved for him to go to college for a better life but he seems happy to stay on the farm with Els and says that he doesn’t want to go to college anyway. Elsa and Rafe have a girl then a boy. His parents are grateful for Elsa because she’s strong, brave, a hard worker, and a good wife and mother. When the Great Depression hits, Rafe leaves his family behind because he can’t stand staying on the farm anymore. His parents help Elsa raise their grandchildren and they all take care of the farm together. When the land turns into a dust bowl, life gets even worse! The people and animals struggle to survive the heat, the powerful winds, and the extreme dust everywhere. Ant, the youngest grandchild, becomes deathly sick with dust pneumonia and that’s when they decide it’s time to leave the Great Plains behind. When Elsa leaves for California with her children, she’s terrified but sees no other solution. They make it to California but find discrimination and harsh prejudice, horrible working and living conditions, and struggle to survive because of little and sometimes no income. The three do discover strength and loyalty and what they are truly capable of. A story of great strength, determination, and unbelievable perseverance, 5 stars!

Thriving After Sexual Abuse by Denise Bossarte

True help for the healing process!

The author bravely shares what happened to her. She then details her healing journey.
I appreciate the honesty of her past therapy experiences. It’s good to have permission to find a therapist that you’re personally comfortable with. The definition of incest from SIA (Survivors of Incest Group) was an eye-opener because it includes more than just blood relatives. It’s anyone who betrays the child’s innocence or trust. When she mentions that it was difficult for her to understand other kids growing up and how they felt and lived emotionally, that rang a bell with me. I remember thinking that what I was going through must be normal until my friends were complaining about their lives and I realized that I couldn’t relate to their experiences at all.
This book is chock-full of helpful resources, from meditation to art therapy. The explanation of forgiveness states to forgive yourself for any misplaced beliefs that you are to blame for any abuse that has happened to you. I appreciate this explanation which clarifies that you’re not forgiving the abuser. The resources shared in the book are listed at the end and include even more! True help for the healing! You don’t have to deal with it on your own. 5 stars!

Everything I Thought I Knew by Shannon Takaoka

Thanks to NetGalley and Candlewick Press for the opportunity to read and review Everything I Thought I Knew by Shannon Takaoka!
Damn good book! Mind-blowing, thought-provoking, and beautiful.
Chloe has cardiac arrest while running during cross country practice. She’s always been healthy but the doctor found her heart defect after her heart attack. She’s placed on the transplant list and receives a heart on December 18th. Chloe’s life changed dramatically after her heart defect was found. She had good grades, college goals, and future plans. Now she has to attend summer school to catch up and, for some reason, she craves surfing. She buys a board and gets the phone number of a young man who gives lessons. His name is Kia. Chloe learns to surf and the two of them build a relationship together. She hunts down the donor of her heart and she questions everything she’s ever known. A magnificent story, 5 stars!

Restorative Yoga by Caren Baginski

Restorative Yoga by Caren Baginsku. DK Publishing.
Yoga poses include forward bends, back bends, side bends and twists, and a wonderful section focused on yoga to help specific needs such as anxiety, sleeplessness, headaches and more. Pregnancy variations of the yoga poses are shown to help expectant mothers. The book’s subtitle describes this guide perfectly: Relax. Restore. Re-energize. 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!

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!

Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett

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Full Disclosure by Camryn Garrett addresses several difficult topics with boldness and knowledge.  Simone was born HIV positive and she lives with her loving, adoptive parents, Dave and Paul, who she calls Dad and Pops. Simone recently moved to the school she’s now attending, after being tormented and shunned at her previous school when her best friend told everyone that Simone has HIV.  She wants a fresh start and her junior year is going well, at first.  She’s been assigned as the high school musical director for the school production of “Rent” because Broadway is one of her passions and her teacher believes she has what it takes to follow her dreams and make a career out of directing.  Simone meets this amazing guy, Miles, and they form a healthy relationship and she shares her secret with him.  Miles handles it kindly and with empathy and treats Simone the same as before.  Someone starts leaving threatening notes for Simone, warning her to break up with Miles or else.  Everything escalates after that and blow up.  Simone finds out who her true friends are and she has to decide whether to hold her head up high and persevere or run away from the same problem all over again.

 Be aware that Full Disclosure freely talks about sexual issues and questions, so not for sexually squeamish readers.
Impressive and bold young adult debut!

Overcoming Opioid Addiction by Adam Bisaga, MD.

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Necessary and beneficial guide!
Thanks to NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review Overcoming Opioid Addiction by Adam Bisaga, MD.
I wanted to read this book because, as a librarian, I was hopeful that it could be a helpful guide and voice of wisdom and information to those who may need it most, whether for personal, family or friend use. Overcoming Opioid Addiction was written to give general knowledge of Opioids, the epidemic and addiction, for health-care professionals, family members and for addicted individuals. The book is sectioned into four parts, each concentrating on one of these areas. This fascinating but informative and helpful book opened my eyes to Opioids and helped me to better understand how addiction became an epidemic and how patients can be treated and overcome addiction. 5 stars for this necessary and beneficial guide to Opioid Use Disorder!

How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox

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Original, thought-provoking story!
Thanks to Bookish First for the ARC of How It Feels To Float by Helena Fox and Dial Books. I received the book as a Bookish First winner!
Elizabeth, Biz, sees and hears her dad even though he’s been dead for many years. Biz lives in Australia with her single mother and younger twin siblings. She has a best friend named Grace that’s loyal to the point of vandalizing, on Biz’s behalf. They both receive warnings from the police even though Grace keeps saying that Biz was innocent. Grace’s family sends her away and Biz becomes more withdrawn. So, Biz starts therapy and a photography class. Her therapist advises Biz to stay in the moment and acknowledge her feelings and live. She meets new people and makes new friends as she spreads her wings. She also acknowledges the problems that have been buried deep inside. How It Feels to Float was a therapeutic read for me and I relished the professional advice given to Biz. I can see how this book might be triggering, especially if the reader is dealing with similar struggles. I really cannot sum this book’s effect in one word because it’s somewhat enigmatic.,thought-provoking, eye-opening and uniquely unusual! The revealing of the cause of Biz’s struggles was jittery and not explained as well as I expected it to be. I would have appreciated more explanation and feel that this would be more healing and helpful to those that have experienced the same traumas and for this reason, I rate this book 4 stars!