The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah



source: purchased
title: The Four Winds
author: Kristin Hannah
genre: historical fiction
pages: 464
published: February 2, 2021
first line: Hope is a coin I carry: an American penny, given to me by a man I came to love.
rated: 5 out of 5 stars

Blurb:
The Four Winds is a rich, sweeping novel that stunningly brings to life the Great Depression and the people who lived through it―the harsh realities that divided us as a nation and the enduring battle between the haves and the have-nots. A testament to hope, resilience, and the strength of the human spirit to survive adversity, The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.-quoted from Amazon

My thoughts:
The Four Winds was my first foray into author Kristin Hannah’s work and it won’t be my last. I picked this one up after seeing a few book bloggers rave about it.

This book was my vacation read last week and I was transported as I read. I could not put it down, reading as many as 200 pages in one day which is alot for me since I usually tap out at maybe 100 pages a day.

Without giving too much away, the story takes place during the 1930’s Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. The book centers around Elsa Wolcott who by age 25 has been written off by her family as an old maid. She is born in Texas to a well off family since her father owns a tractor business. Elsa loves to read and wants to have fun and be a flapper and become a writer one day. Everything changes for her and she becomes a mom and suffers through the Dust Bowl and the Great Depression. With themes of family, motherhood, the bonds women form, poverty and American life during the 1920’s and 30’s this was an epic story that utterly drew me in. I could not turn the pages fast enough.

The author writes about the Dust Bowl and the storms so vividly I could easily imagine it. Of course while reading I had to google the Dust Bowl to familiarize myself with the details and I was shocked at what I learned and what so many people suffered at that time. The images of these dust storms look like something out of a nightmare. The dust from the Plains region even reached up as far as Washington DC and New York City at one point. The author paints such a vivid picture of what people went through at that time and of the poverty people suffered that it both shocks you and pulls at your heartstrings as you read.

Kristin Hannah’s descriptive writing style and the way she shaped these characters had me enthralled. I felt for them and I wanted them to be alright. The relationships within the story are what grab ahold of you as you read. Elsa is a good mother trying to survive it all and take care of her children. The people she meets who are going through similar struggles become like family to her. This is a story about strong women and about surviving against all odds and pushing forward no matter what.

The Four Winds is definitely one of my top reads for 2021 and I highly recommend it if you are looking to get swept away into a well written historical family saga. Have a box of tissues handy.
As per the photo below, my reading view last week was perfect. I’m so glad I chose The Four Winds as my vacation book. Have you read this one?



“Books had always been her solace; novels gave her the space to be bold, brave, beautiful, if only in her own imagination.”– p14, The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

“Heartache had been a part of her life so long it had become as familiar as the color of her hair or the slight curve in her spine. Sometimes it was the lens through which she viewed her world and sometimes it was the blindfold she wore so she didn’t see.”- p.117, The Four Winds

“Love is what remains when everything else is gone.” -p.425, The Four Winds

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About the author:
Kristin Hannah is the award-winning and bestselling author of more than 20 novels including the international blockbuster, The Nightingale, which was named Goodreads Best Historical fiction novel for 2015 and won the coveted People’s Choice award for best fiction in the same year. Additionally, it was named a Best Book of the Year by Amazon, iTunes, Buzzfeed, the Wall Street Journal, Paste, and The Week.-quoted from Amazon


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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of The Four Winds. Some of these links are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. The book photo here is my own.

Sarana and the Dark King by Ivy Keating


source: free review copy from the author
title: Sarana and the Dark King
author: Ivy Keating
genre: fantasy
pages: 268
published: March 22, 2021
first line: In ancient times, a powerful sorcerer played a trick on the rulers by creating maps with the location of tarilium, the strongest metal in existence.

Blurb:
The fearsome Dark King of Bounten, with a magical creature known as a Valomere by his side, is on a quest to find the rare metal tarilium. His brutal ways incite the powerful psychic Allani. But when news of his plans to invade the kingdom of Attaveer spread, a new opponent emerges—Sarana, the daughter of a farmer…or is she?

At birth Sarana was sentenced to death for her “cursed” white hair. The delivery nurse, Meriden, whisked the fair-haired babe to a loving home across the waters from Bounten. Her entire life she hid her appearance to avoid prejudice. Things changed when she discovered she too had a Valomere. She strived to learn the creature’s magic and master fighting skills with the hope of becoming a warrior. Her dreams came true when she was allowed to join the Attaveerian king’s network of spies–a group poised to help defend the kingdom from an invasion by the Dark King and his powerful army.

When word of the white-haired messenger reached the Dark King he vowed to stop at nothing to capture or kill his opponent.

The time for hiding is over.

Can Sarana save herself and her kingdom? Follow Sarana from death to destiny as she joins forces with psychics, Valomeres, and the power of inner strength, to defeat an evil king.


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My thoughts:
Sarana and the Dark King by Ivy Keating is an entertaining read centered around the Dark King, a gifted young woman named Sarana and the magical beasts the Valomeres.

The story begins Sarana is born with bright hair, infected eyes and a pale complexion all of which can be taken for a curse. In order to keep Sarana safe, nurse and healer Meriden whisks her away to safety while telling everyone the child has died. Meriden takes Sarana to her sister and brother in law who raise her as their own in Attaveer.

Without giving too much away, as Sarana grows up, the Dark King of Bounten continues to be obsessed with the rarest metal tarilium. Also woven into the storyline is the King wanting an heir from his Queen while keeping his mistress hidden on the side. The King’s mistress has a sister named Alani who is an oracle and who wants to take the Dark King down and free her captive sister.

As the plot twists and turns Sarana learns there will be war over the tarilium. With the help of her friends and her Valomere named Halo Sarana is willing to fight against the King and defend her homeland of Attaveer. It all culminates to an exciting ending where secrets are revealed and the story closes with the hint of more to come.

The story is brimming with adventure and the plot twists and turns made Sarana and the Dark King an engaging read. The author writes the main characters in such a way that you are drawn into the storyline immediately. I also enjoyed the imaginative world building. However, I would have liked further details as to some of what was going on. Specifically with the magical Valomeres and their powers because some of their abilities seemed unclear to me.

All in all, while fantasy is not my usual genre I enjoyed this one and I would recommend it if you’re looking for an entertaining adventure.

“The land in Attaveer was mostly flat with gentle rolling hills. It piqued her imagination when he spoke about the topography of his kingdom. There were mountains and waterfalls that spilled into rapids. He also told her about the native animals, like bears and caribou.”- 26% Kindle app, Sarana and the Dark King


“The oracle never liked the king of Bounten. His policy on metal taxes caused too much suffering, but now his behavior affected her personally. With Whisper curled up on the floor next to her, she could read him well. Tonight, she learned about his plans to trick the kingdoms and prepare his army to invade Attaveer.- 58% Kindle app, Sarana and the Dark King


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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received a free copy of Sarana and the Dark King by Ivy Keating from the author in exchange for my honest thoughts. Some of these links are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission.

Bird’s Eye View by T.K. Ray

source: free copy via Pump Up Your Book Promotion for review.
title: Bird’s Eye View
author: TK Ray
genre: fiction/novella/family drama
pages: 103
published: July 15th 2020
first line: Cancer.

About:
A Bird’s Eye View is a twisted tale of deception with acts of love overshadowed by the pains of a troubled teen. As traces of laughter and love are left amongst the whispers of chilling prayers, this once tight knit family faces a rollercoaster of emotions and a call to heal. This blindsided attack leaves the family devastated and takes this family on a journey none of them could prepare for.

My thoughts:
Bird’s Eye View by T.K. Ray is a story revolving around a family and the pain they go through and the ties that bind them. As the story starts off Cara narrates. She is a widow and mother of three daughters who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her life has not been easy she and her deceased husband used drugs and she’s gotten clean and tried to pick up the pieces after his death. She has twin daughters aged 18 and a younger daughter about to go into high school when she starts making arrangements. She decided to leave her youngest Carli to her niece Mirabel. As the chapters flows the other women in the story narrate in turn. Carli lives with her cousin Mirabel and spends most weekends with her sisters.

As the book flows and each character tells their story, there is sadness and heartache but also hope and strength. As a teenager Carli starts to rebel and I wondered how it would turn out for her. She drops a bombshell towards the middle of the book that was quite the plot twist. This bombshell causes a ripple effect that threatens to tear the entire family apart.
Some of the chapters end with the women saying a prayer as Mirabel especially is religious. I will mention a trigger warning for domestic violence and gun violence during a scene.
With author TK Ray’s writing style, I felt like I was being told a story by a friend as I read, if that makes sense. The writing flows smoothly as you get each character’s POV.

This is a story about family and how tough times make you stronger. One of the main themes here is that family is the most important thing. I enjoyed reading Bird’s Eye View by T.K. Ray and I recommend it if you enjoy stories revolving around family dramas and persevering.

“Crazy how that works. You pray against these moments-that they never come, that they don’t penetrate as deep as the last but of pain did-but when it comes, it’s there and then it’s gone. You’re forced to formulate new prayers, new peace, and a new life after the trauma.”-p.24,Bird’s Eye View by T.K. Ray

“The family I knew us to be, we always pull together in struggle. We were the strongest women I knew. Strength was becoming our thing.”-p.60,Bird’s Eye View by T.K. Ray



About the author:
“Write what hurts and watch it heal.” That is the mantra that has empowered the imagination and willpower to tell her story for upcoming Author, TK Ray. Using colorful language and descriptive tone, Tk provides a safe space to unpack a beautiful and twisted tale based on a true story of real family dynamics.

TK Ray was born in San Diego, California to a fifteen-year-old mother and fourteen-year-old father in the late eighties. Born to two young teens, TK found herself tainted by the statistics of becoming a teen mother herself. She found solace in the world of literature as her own private journals became her voice when shyness took over. She began to understand the world in more intuitive way and birthed that intuition into an imagination that has fueled much of her writing. Much of her writing is personal however as the years have gone by, have included poetry, music, obituaries, blog posts and now literature.

TK is a certified Holistic Health Practitioner and practicing Massage Therapist in southern California. She fuses her knowledge in holistic health with that of her knowledge of her bachelor’s degree in health science to better serve her community in wellness and education. – quoted from Amazon


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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received a free copy of Bird’s Eye View via Pump Up Your Book Promotion in exchange for my thoughts.

Garden in a Seed by Nazanin Mirsadeghi

source: free copy via Bahar Books
title: Garden in a Seed
author : Nazanin Mirsadeghi
published: Bahar Books (March 28, 2021)
genre: poetry
pages: 132
rated: beautiful

About:
GARDEN IN A SEED is a collection of modern poems touching on the subjects of self-worth, love, loss, and survival. The poems in this collection reflect the emotional struggles of women, especially when it comes to discovering their true and authentic voices. These short poems shed light on the enormous strengths hidden in the human soul. They remind us that despite experiencing despair and sorrow, we are all capable of healing.

My thoughts:
Right in time for National Poetry Month today I’d like to share my thoughts on a lovely set of poems I have recently read. Garden in a Seed is a beautiful collection of poems focusing on themes of love, heartache, bravery, hope and personal strength.
I dove in and out of this book over the course of a week and took the time to savor the words.

The poems are split into four sections: sprout, hail, nurture, endure and bloom. I really liked the section entitled “nurture”. This is one of my favorite poems in the collection:
“You kiss the fine lines
the universe has drawn
on my forehead
around my eyes
at the corners of my lips

you touch the ugly marks
life has left all over my skin

and you gently lift the sorrows
from my heart
with your soothing words
p 64. Garden in a Seed by Nazanin Mirsadeghi

The poems in this collection are not too long, some just a few lines full of emotion. I enjoyed reading these very much and I recommend this one if you are a poetry lover as well.

This is another favorite:
“you show up in waves
sudden and loud
crashing through
the serenity of my shore

always leaving with pieces of me
always leaving me pieces of you”
p.98, Garden in a Seed by Nazanin Mirsadeghi

Special thanks to Bahar Books for my complimentary copy of Garden in a Seed by Nazanin Mirsadegh.





About the author:
Nazanin Mirsadeghi is a Persian-American writer and translator. She has authored more than 20 books most of them being Persian language workbooks and children’s stories. She also has two poetry collections titled: “A Jarful of Moonlight” and “Garden in a Seed”. She lives in New York. You can find her on Instagram @nazanin.mirsadeghi – quoted from Amazon
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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I received a copy of Garden in a Seed by Nazanin Mirsadeghi via the publisher . Some of the links in the post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission. The book photo is my own.

A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

source: purchased
title: A Head Full of Ghosts
author: Paul Tremblay
published: May 2016
genre: horror
pages: 285
first line: This must be so difficult for you, Meredith.
rated: 5 out of 5 stars

Blurb:
A chilling thriller that brilliantly blends psychological suspense and supernatural horror, reminiscent of Stephen King’s The Shining, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, and William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist.

The lives of the Barretts, a normal suburban New England family, are torn apart when fourteen-year-old Marjorie begins to display signs of acute schizophrenia.

To her parents’ despair, the doctors are unable to stop Marjorie’s descent into madness. As their stable home devolves into a house of horrors, they reluctantly turn to a local Catholic priest for help. Father Wanderly suggests an exorcism; he believes the vulnerable teenager is the victim of demonic possession. He also contacts a production company that is eager to document the Barretts’ plight. With John, Marjorie’s father, out of work for more than a year and the medical bills looming, the family agrees to be filmed, and soon find themselves the unwitting stars of The Possession, a hit reality television show. When events in the Barrett household explode in tragedy, the show and the shocking incidents it captures become the stuff of urban legend.

Fifteen years later, a bestselling writer interviews Marjorie’s younger sister, Merry. As she recalls those long ago events that took place when she was just eight years old, long-buried secrets and painful memories that clash with what was broadcast on television begin to surface—and a mind-bending tale of psychological horror is unleashed, raising vexing questions about memory and reality, science and religion, and the very nature of evil.

My thoughts:
I purchased A Head Full of Ghosts because I wanted to dive into something scary. This was my first time reading Paul Tremblay and the premise looked good. Plus, this is what Stephen King said about this book: “A Head Full of Ghosts scared the living hell out of me, and I’m pretty hard to scare”. If that’s not a horror recommendation I don’t know what is.

The book centers around twenty-something Merry Barrett as she tells a writer named Rachel the story of what happened to her family when she was just eight years old. Rachel is going to write a book on the Barretts. When Merry was eight her fourteen year old sister Marjorie started exhibiting symptoms of demonic possession. The Barrett family was having financial difficulties at the time because the dad John Barrett lost his job. When Marjorie begins acting strange it puts a strain on the entire family. She was talking in bizarre and weird voices, cursing and having erratic outbursts.

After treatments from the doctor didn’t work, the family obtained help from the Catholic church. After observing Marjorie, Father Wanderly got permission to perform an exorcism. On top of all this, the Barrett’s got a tv documentary deal so there was a film crew living in their home for a few weeks filming the family daily. The Barrett’s agreed to the documentary which aired weekly and made them somewhat infamous because they needed the money. The exorcism is aired on tv.

I enjoyed how the author pulled me in here, Merry tells a terrifying story and I was on the edge of my seat while reading. She’s an endearing character and you want her to be okay but she is an unreliable narrator so you never truly know what happened.
I wondered where Paul Tremblay would go with the story because halfway through I started thinking this book could easily start to resemble a retelling of The Exorcist which is of my favorite horror novels. I was not disappointed. This one does throw nods to The Exorcist but manages to remain original.

The book culminates into a nice cringeworthy twist at the end that left me speechless. The twist is what seals the deal. I also enjoyed how the book plays with you a little as you read, you never really know what is truly going on. I wondered whether Marjorie was really possessed or mentally ill or maybe both. I feared for Merry and her interactions with her older sister in that state were scary but also sad. Merry idolized her older sister like most little sisters do. I also really enjoyed the whole reality tv twist to the story due to the documentary about the family being filmed.

A Head Full of Ghosts was fantastic horror and I recommend it to fans of the genre. This one is not for the faint of heart some of the scenes are shocking. Ugh, the basement scenes. I wanted to hide under the covers.


“In a way, my personal history not being my own, being literally and figuratively haunted by outside forces, is almost as horrible as what actually happened. Almost.”- A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay

I sneak into your room when you are asleep, Merry-monkey. I’ve been doing it for weeks now, since the end of summer. You’re so pretty when you’re asleep. Last night, I pinched your nose shut until you opened your little mouth and gasped.”- A Head Full of Ghosts



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Disclaimer: This review is my honest opinion. I did not receive any kind of compensation for reading and reviewing this book. I am under no obligation to write a positive review. I purchased my copy of A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay
. Some of the links in the post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small affiliate commission.