Disclaimer: Beautiful Touches has received copies of titles from some of the publishers / authors, below. All information comes directly from publishers. As an Amazon Associate I get commissions for purchases made through Amazon links in this post.
Spring hasn’t quite sprung everywhere across the country, but there is an abundance of great reads for young and the not so young. Enjoy!
Spring Reads for All Ages
THE UNSPOKEN, by Ashley Haseotes
“Yeah, I’ve gone through some rough times in my life, but was it really trauma?”
“You may have found yourself thinking something along these lines, and you wouldn’t be alone. Trauma comes in many shapes and sizes, and on some level, we have all experienced it. The unfortunate reality is that many of us pass off or downplay situations or circumstances in our lives that are, in fact, emotionally traumatic. Left unattended, this trauma can wreak havoc on our minds and bodies, bringing about physical symptoms of pain and rendering us unsafe, anxious, and feeling unfulfilled.
In The Unspoken, author Ashley Haseotes shares her story of hitting rock bottom and finally coming to grips with the reality of her trauma. Suffering deeply and feeling overwhelmed, she becomes debilitatingly ill with chronic migraines and vertigo that leave her confined to her bed for months. Unable to work and take care of her children, lost and disconnected from her life purpose, she stares down feelings of unbridled failure and unsurmountable stress.
Through Ashley’s journey of chronic pain, a breathtaking spiritual healing is catalyzed. Her memoir is a story of walking through the storm to emerge reborn—to be healed. And if you are willing to do the work, you’ll find an opportunity for your own healing woven into each page.”
About the Author
“Ashley Haseotes is an intuitive energy healer and Chopra Center certified meditation coach, as well as the author of The Unspoken. After collapsing into chronic pain from both excessive overworking and suppressed childhood trauma, Ashley underwent a transformative spiritual healing. In recounting this experience, her memoir emerged.One Mission, Ashley helps children and families navigate pediatric cancer and heal after treatment. ”Drawing upon her own experience, Ashley is devoted to helping others work through difficult experiences and deep trauma. As a personal coach, Ashley helps clients who are feeling stuck, struggling, or undergoing any major life shift. And through the charity she founded,
FOREVER ON POINTE, by Agota Gabor
“Ballet rats. That’s what they used to call kids like Agota Gabor.
We first meet her as a rat in the Budapest pack, in the Hungarian Opera house, dreaming of becoming a prima ballerina and starring in Swan Lake. Dancing is her life. But polio crushes her dreams of classical ballet.
Through gruesome therapy and iron will, she learns to walk and even dance again, well enough to make a living in Canada, her new country where she and her mom flee after the 1956 Hungarian revolution. You’ll next see Gabor as a glamorous chorus girl at the Bellevue Casino in the swinging Montreal of the late 1950s. Soon after, she joins a CBC concert party entertaining the UN troops in the Middle East, Europe, and the North Pole. She also becomes Canadian TV’s dance instructor as she teaches ballroom dancing on CBC’s Take 30.
Gabor then goes back to school to get a journalism degree, gets married, and as a TV Journalist with her foreign correspondent husband lives the glamorous expat life of the mid 20th century. He covers Vietnam and Northern Ireland while she works as a television reporter in Hong Kong, Bali, Jakarta, London and Budapest. They divorce and re-marry.
It is a roller coaster life full of adventure, made complete by the arrival of a premature daughter she adores. She stops travelling and starts a public relations company. Through its success and some smart real estate moves, she becomes set for life as the matriarch and anchor of her family. Then, the poliovirus attacks again in the form of the post-polio syndrome and Gabor needs to fight it again and forever.
Forever On Pointe: A True Story (Glissade Productions, April 2022), is a fascinating account of a journey from the intense world of professional ballet to the bloody streets of the Hungarian Revolution to the glittering nightclubs of Montreal. Gabor takes readers on the adventure of her life and paints a rich historical picture of the world at the time.”
About the Author
“Agota Gabor, empowers women to chase dreams, reinvent themselves, and succeed against all odds. Gabor grew up as a ‘Ballet rat” –a ballerina to be- at the Budapest Opera. She contracted polio, which shattered her dreams and after the 1956 revolution she sought refuge with her mother in Canada, Gabor recovered from polio, and became a nightclub performer in swinging Montreal. She later earned a journalism degree from Ryerson University and worked in television in Canada, the Far East and Europe.
Gabor began her career in Public Relations in Hong Kong, at the Mandarin Hotel, doing publicity for visiting heads of States, and celebrities (Former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, The Shah of Iran, Shirley Bassey, Lee Radziwill), and continued PR in London England as Public Relations Manager of the London Intercontinental Hotel. In 1981 she founded The Gabor Group, a Communications Company in Toronto, which she is still running today. Gabor lives life to its fullest despite having post-polio syndrome. During the COVD-19 pandemic, 2021, she released the handbook, Public Speaking, Presentations, Media Interviews—
proving that age does not determine relevancy.”
MISERASBLE MOM: The Do’s and Don’ts of Sending Your Kid to College, by Sharon L. Brecher
“She’s not really miserable. She’s creating her way through the ups and downs of life’s most perplexing assignment – raising humans. Sharon’s book is a sassy, sparkling help list for a mom’s most dreaded job, sending her kid to college. You will laugh, you will wince, you will buy two books so you can cut one up to send pages to your friends.” – Becky Blades, Author of Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone: Advice Your Mom Would Give if She Thought You Were Listening
Welcome to that special time of every parent’s life – when they’ve done all they can to prepare their kids for the next step, and the time has come… their kid is leaving home and going to college! Miserable Mom celebrates the ups and downs of one of life’s most emotional parenting moments, conveniently coinciding with mid-life.
Mom-blogger, illustrator and popular influencer Sharon Brecher shares her first-hand experience with the daily angst and indignities of motherhood in her humorous comic strips that portray the do’s and don’ts of sending your kid to college. Through illustrations and transparent slice-of-life narrative, Miserable Mom: The Do’s and Don’ts of Sending Your Kid to College provides an authentic connection with others who are also navigating this emotional time. Delivering an unapologetic perspective of motherhood, Sharon shines a light on the stream of consciousness we all internalize and helps us laugh at ourselves. “If I’ve learned anything over this process, it’s that every last one of us Miserable Moms gets a case of the crazies when we prepare to send our children off to college,” Sharon says. “The degrees to which we veer close to the edge may vary, the issues over which we obsess may diverge, and our fears and emotions may be very different. What matters is that we can look at each other, recognize the vulnerability, and help each other through this transition with a little laughter.”
By normalizing common parenting and mid-life insecurities with a dose of humor, Miserable Mom will help you feel supported while enduring this incredibly special time of parenting college students.
Miserable Mom is a comical and honest survival guide for any parent facing this stage of parenthood. In it, Sharon tackles cringeworthy subjects such as:
- High Anxiety: The Do’s and Don’ts of Pre-College Prep
- Holy Sh*t Your Kid is Leaving the Nest! The Do’s and Don’ts of Moving Out… and Moving In
- The Overbearing Parent’s Reminder: Step Back So Your Child Can Shine at College
- The New Normal Back at Home: The Do’s and Don’ts of Stalking, Suffocating and Controlling Those Left Behind
- Raging Hormones & Mid-Life: Keeping it Cool When You’re Burning up Inside and You Just Want to Turn Back Time.
- Live and Learn: Put on Your Best Game Face, Don’t Forget To Laugh When Your Crazy Slips Out and Remember All Parents Are In This Together
- The Emotions of Change: Now what?
- And So Much More …”
About the Author
“Sharon L. Brecher is a mom-blogger, writer, illustrator, wife, and Miserable Mom. Her first book, Miserable Mom: The Do’s and Don’ts of Sending Your Kid to College, calls out the absurdities of this stage of motherhood with a wry sense of humor and a self-deprecating wink to her own place in the emotional merry-go-round. Sharon is a born and bred New Yorker, living in Southern California. She has raised two young adults (one in college and one recently out) and has an MA in Education… as if that gave her all the answers! Sharon was the Educational Director of Futurekids, and spent several years working as a consultant for companies like Disney Interactive and Disney Online, where she created educational content for kids and guides for parents. Upon an emotional return from dropping her oldest off at college for the first time, Sharon needed to process some unfamiliar and vulnerable feelings. With one kid out and one to go, mid-life was upon her. This new phase would require the honesty and humor she always internalized, to process life’s challenges. But this time Sharon needed to share with other moms out loud! So, she sat down at her computer and Miserable Moms was born. You can follow Sharon’s comical perspective on navigating the often-humorous balance of raising young adults while maneuvering mid-life on her popular Instagram page @MiserableMoms and her website www.MiserableMoms.com.”
MORE THAN MOM: How Prioritizing Wellness Helps You (and Your Family) Thrive, by Kari Kampakis
“More Than a Mom poses the question: What if taking care of yourself was actually the first step to helping your family thrive?
So often, moms put themselves last and need a more tangible reason for the “self care” so many talk about — especially now as we are two years into a pandemic and navigating that extra level of stress. More than a Mom reminds readers that mothers are humans too, and require love, compassion, rest, and renewal to fully show up for their family. Taking care of our basic needs actually strengthens us and equips us to parent better in the long run – and sometimes we just need an extra reminder of that!”
About the Author
“Kari’s work has been featured on TODAY – NBC, TODAY Parents, Focus on the Family, Yahoo! News, Grown & Flown, Thrive Global, Your Teen, For Every Mom, Motherly, FaithGateway, Jesus Calling, Love What Matters, Ann Voskamp’s blog and other national outlets. She also hosts the Girl Mom podcast. Kari and her husband, Harry, have four daughters and a dog named Lola.”
ZEN PARENTING: Caring for Ourselves and Our Children in an Unpredictable World, by Cathy Cassani Adams LCSW
Why the pandemic inspired Cathy to write the book. Hot topics from panelists and participants at the recent Zen Parenting Virtual Conference. How to normalize family discussions around social justice.
- Who owns the drama?When emotions are high–the importance of asking; Who owns this problem? Me or my child? (Complete with insights that illuminate the answer.)
- Sacred intertwining of being born complete, moving through feelings & tapping into creativity. Acceptance that there are no good or bad feelings, they’re all necessary. The importance of making time to feel pleasure (not necessarily the sexual kind and without guilt). The fallout from unexpressed creativity.
- When the going gets tough, the “tough” take MORE time to chill out. Our bodies are giving us signals all day. We deserve to take the time to connect to ourselves by using tools like meditation or being in nature. Challenging moments feel much smoother when we are tapped into our intuition, our internal GPS.
- Shift focus to self-compassion rather than self-esteem: What’s the difference between the two? How does that carry over to the rest of the family?”
About the Author
Cathy Cassani Adams, LCSW, co-hosts the Zen Parenting Radio podcast and is co-founder of the annual Zen Parenting Conference. She is a social worker and former elementary school educator from a family of educators, and a yoga teacher who is a forever student when it comes to breathing and mindfulness. Cathy teaches in the Sociology/Criminology Department at Dominican University, and she lives outside of Chicago with her husband Todd and their three daughters.
CONNECTED SOLDIERS: Life, Leadership, and Social Connections in Modern War, by John Spencer
“John Spencer was a new second lieutenant in 2003 when he parachuted into Iraq leading a platoon of infantry soldiers into battle. During that combat tour, he learned how important unit cohesion was to surviving war, both physically and mentally. He observed that this cohesion developed as the soldiers experienced the horrors of combat as a group, spending their downtime together and processing their shared experiences.
When Spencer returned to Iraq five years later to take command of a troubled company, he found that his lessons on how to build unit cohesion were no longer applicable. Rather than bonding and processing trauma as a group, soldiers now spend their downtown separately, on computers communicating with family back home. Spencer began to see the internet as a threat to unit cohesion, but when he returned home and his wife was deployed, the internet connected him and his children to his wife on a daily basis.
In Connected Soldiers: Life, Leadership, and Social Connections in Modern War (July 1, 2022, Potomac Books), Spencer delivers lessons learned about effective methods for building teams in a way that overcomes the distractions of home and the outside world, without reducing the benefits gained from connections to family.
Spencer not only shares a first-person narrative of intense combat as a soldier in two separate and different deployments, but also as a member of a military family when he stays at home with his children while his wife goes off to war. This book examines and highlights both the positives and, at times, extreme negatives that constant connections through social media and telecommunications can have on the performance of a team, their cohesion, and the health of the individuals.
Connected Soldiers reveals how to maximize leadership to build cohesive and high performing teams, strong leaders, and healthy soldiers in a world of ever-present social media influence and constant virtual connection, along with demonstrating the story of a soldier, leader, and father.”
About the Author
John Spencer is an award-winning scholar, professor, author, combat veteran, and internationally recognized expert and advisor on urban warfare and other military related topics. Considered the world’s leading expert on urban warfare, he served as an advisor to the top four-star general and other senior leaders in the U.S. Army as part of strategic research groups from the Pentagon to the United States Military Academy.
Spencer currently serves as the Chair of Urban Warfare Studies at the Modern War Institute at West Point and as host of the Urban Warfare Project podcast. He also serves as a Colonel in the California State Guard with assignment to the 40th Infantry Division, California Army National Guard as the Director of Urban Warfare Training.
Serving over twenty-five years in the active Army as an infantry soldier, Spencer has held ranks from Private to Sergeant First Class and Second Lieutenant to Major. His assignments as an Army officer included two combat deployments to Iraq as both an Infantry Platoon Leader and Company Commander, a Ranger Instructor with the Army’s Ranger School, a Joint Chief of Staff and Army Staff intern, fellow with the Chief of Staff of the Army’s Strategic Studies Group, and Co-Founder, Strategic Planner, and Deputy Director of the Modern War Institute at West Point.
Spencer holds a Master of Policy Management from Georgetown University. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, LA Times, NY Daily News, Wired Magazine, Politico, The Hill, Foreign Policy Magazine, Defense One, Army Magazine, and many other publications. Spencer is also a regular military analyst and commentator for CNN, MSNBC, BBC, and numerous news and media organizations. He currently lives in Colorado Springs, CO, with his wife and three children. He looks forward to connecting via Twitter @SpencerGuard.
MRS. WRINKLES And the Emotion Potion, by Angela King
“Older children will be immediately drawn in by ‘Mrs Wrinkles and The Emotion Potion’ which has shades of the great Enid Blyton’s ‘The Faraway Tree’ about it. It’s an adventure from cover to cover, filled with twists and turns, action, bursts of innocent humor and even a double-page map illustration. The characters and their relationships are what sets this book apart. It’s a really warm natured, fun tale, perfect for both boys and girls and is a first book in the Mrs Wrinkles series.
As the author Angela King herself describes it, “this is a lively story of self-discovery, friendship and hope”, but perhaps it’s much, much more. It’s about relationships and how we interact with each other, especially in times of crisis.”
Summary of the book:
“Mrs Wrinkles lives on a beautiful island, many miles from the Old World her ancestors left behind when they voyaged in search of new land. She keeps her tribe, the Hutspeople, content with her gentle ways and wisdom – and sometimes with just a little touch of her Emotion Potion!
One day, peace in the village is disrupted by a young boy in her care, Tom Tangles, who decides he needs to find his long-lost parents. His actions trigger a series of events that turn their quiet lives upside down as they come up against the other tribe leaders on the island.
A rip-roaring adventure follows, with unforeseen dangers to overcome and surprises they could not have imagined.
The twists and turns along the way will have you applauding the spirited determination of Mrs Wrinkles in her quest to help her beloved little friend find his sense of belonging.
This is a lively story of self-discovery, friendship and hope.”
About the Author
“Angela King was born and raised in South Yorkshire, England, United Kingdom. She is blessed to be part of a large, close family and loves spending time with them and her friends.
Angela’s appreciation of nature and the tranquility of living in the countryside inspired her to write her first children’s book, Mrs Wrinkles.”
ANGRY ME, by Sandra V. Feder, and illustrated by Rahele Jomepur Bell
About the Author
FRANCO AND THE GREEN LIGHT FAIRY, by Fiona Lowry, and illustrated by Johanna Bruyer
“Little Franco loved to play with his cars. He played with them every morning when he got out of bed, every day after school, and every night before sleep. All Franco dreamed of was owning his own car one day – a bright red Ferrari.
When Franco went for a drive with his family, he always helped to drive from his booster seat. But what Franco didn’t like, and what made him really mad, was being stuck at red traffic lights! This made Franco’s mum smile. “Think of the Green Light Fairy,” she said, but this puzzled him.
He thought so hard about the Green Light Fairy that suddenly, out of nowhere, she magically appeared in his mind’s eye.
Fiona Lowry has come up with a wonderful bedtime storybook in ‘Franco and the Green Light Fairy’ with an obvious appeal for little boys. The book, colourfully and vibrantly illustrated by Johanna Bruyer, is a short story of positive thinking for young children, based on the Law of Attraction.
Says Fiona: “Children that have read my book so far are enthusiastic about the characters, and understand the concept and meaning of the story easily. Their parents have also informed me that their children have been secretly making their own wishes on the Green Light Fairy.”
About the Author:
Fiona Lowry is a qualified designer from Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art and Design in Dundee, Scotland. From a young age, she has always been creative in drawing, design and imaginative with short stories or poetry writing. Today, with two young children they provide her with endless inspiration with their enthusiasm for life. Fiona lives in Perthshire, Scotland.
Available from Amazon|
PJ Library Presents
IN EVERY GENERATION A PJ Library Family Haggadah
“This beautifully illustrated guide to the seder (Passover ritual meal) will make your Passover experience more family friendly, as a guest or a host. Covering all the highlights of a traditional seder while creating new ways to engage children and adults alike in retelling the Passover story, this Haggadah is sure to be a favorite for many years to come.”
Available from Amazon
“From family and friends to lighting candles and reciting the four questions, this board book tells of the diverse traditions involved in the celebration of the Jewish Passover holiday.”
Available from Amazon
PASSOVER IS COMING, by Tracy Newman, and illustrated by Viviana Garofoli
“Readers join a cute family and their dog as they prepare for and celebrate the spring holiday of Passover, cleaning the house, making matzah ball soup, assembling the seder plate, saying the Four Questions, and looking for the afikomen at the end of the seder.
This 12-page board book features ‘3D-feeling’ art by Viviana Garofoli, who illustrates all the books in this Jewish holiday series including Shabbat is Coming!, Hanukkah is Coming! and Rosh Hashanah is Coming!. Introduce young children to Jewish life with these Very First Board Books.”
Available from Amazon
About PJ Library
“Hundreds of thousands of children in more than 35 countries receive free Jewish storybooks from PJ Library every month. The Harold Grinspoon Foundation created this program to make it easy for families to add Jewish connections to reading time. The books, activities, and many other free resources offered by PJ Library help families enjoy more Jewish culture, values, and traditions at home and in their communities. To find out more or sign up kids age 0-12, visit pjlibrary.org.
Long a trusted resource for Jewish families in more than 35 countries around the world who receive their free books each month, PJ Library offers fresh reading, audio stories, and tasty treats for families celebrating Passover this year, April 15 to 23.
In the United States alone, more than 240,000 children are receiving new books this month, each providing a carefully curated selection of age-appropriate reading related to Passover. New this year, families will also receive a colorful illustrated “Matzah Mania” fold-out which includes recipes for homemade matzah, matzah trail mix, and matzah pizza lasagna, along with ideas for serving a seder grazing board. The keepsake fold-out also includes culturally inclusive information about seder traditions, and the “Four Questions” of the Passover seder which are printed in English and Hebrew.
Families across the country will also find PJ Library co-branded Yehuda Matzos boxes on their supermarket shelves. Each package will include information about how families may sign up to receive free books for children from birth through age 8. And, for kids ages 9 and through 12, PJ Our Way allows kids to select and review books on their own each month.
In April, two new Passover-themed episodes of the PJ Library Presents podcast network will launch. These new podcasts bring Jewish traditions, culture, holidays, and values to life through engaging audio storytelling. On April 4, “Kiddo Learns about Passover” will be the latest Afternoons with Mimi audio story; and “Humpty Dumpty and the Passover Feast” will be the newest tale in the Beyond the Bookcase series. Families may listen to the 2022 NAPPA Award-winning podcasts on all major streaming sources, and more information is at: https://pjlibrary.org/podcast.
PJ Library has become one of the leading sources for family friendly Haggadahs across the United States and beyond with its colorful and kid-friendly illustrated In Every Generation: A PJ Library Family Haggadah. Since 2018, the organization has shipped more than 675,000 individual Haggadahs to more than 110,000 PJ Library families – for FREE (for non-subscribers, the printed Haggadah are also available via Amazon). More than 45,000 of those families have indicated that this is their first Haggadah. PJ Library also offers a digital version which can be downloaded in five languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, and French. This Haggadah is filled with songs, blessings, and explanations and is available as a free printable PDF from https://pjlibrary.org/haggadah.
This year, PJ Library is updating their Passover hub with new book lists and dozens of fresh ideas and resources for families, including stories and songs, games, activity, and recipes, and printables.”
“PJ Library books help families around the world celebrate Jewish holidays, traditions, and values,” explains Alex Zablotsky, Managing Director of PJ Library. “We’ve created supporting materials and resources including the Haggadah and podcast to help families celebrate Passover and other holidays in an inclusive, family friendly way.”
A THORN IN THEIR SIDE, by Sarah Bellhouse
“After an evil vampire is released from his prison, it is down to Jonathan, Tara, Charlie and Kelsey to retrieve the amulets in order to defeat him and save all the lands. Will they be up to the task? What will they discover about themselves along the way? Can they defeat Thorn once and for all?
Bursting with high tension and thrilling adventure, Sarah Bellhouse’s “A Thorn in Their Side” makes for great, and not too spooky, bedtime reading.
With its winning (good overcoming evil) plot, this vampirical tale will not only have its young readers chomping at the bit to find out what happens next, but its protagonists – Jonathan, Tara, Charlie and Kelsey – are a healthy reminder of the importance of doing deeds for the greater good.
Aimed at age 10 plus readers, this engaging and highly entertaining story, which is illustrated by the author’s son, Michael Bellhouse, is a great addition to all those family bookshelves looking for something original and less saccharin than much of today’s children’s literature.”
About the author:
“Sarah Bellhouse is aged 42 and has three almost grown up kids (the youngest is 16), and a dog.
Living in West Yorkshire, she says: “I have loved reading since I picked up my first book at school and I’ve loved writing for almost as long.”
Available on Amazon in Hardback & Paperback | AuthorHouse | Barnes & Noble