Pretty in Pink: Literary Classics

I hope you guys are ready for some serious February posts – like pink books, for one. When I was younger, I hated pink. Yuck. Now, I love it. I don’t like to wear it but I love it around me, and well, since I usually have books all around, I looked up some pretty in pink covers of classic books. And wow, there are some lovely ones out there! Also..I may have taken liberties with the definition of pink, or how much pink..

(This post does contain a few Amazon Afilliate links – these are in italics)

Starting out strong with Anna Karenina. I thought this cover was so beautiful, and sort of Hepburn-esque.

This Wordsworth Collector’s Edition of Alice in Wonderland is certainly wonderful! I love everything about it! That cute little rabbit, the mushroom, the playing cards – just so adorable!

The Great Gatsby is one of my all time favorite classics, and this Wordsworth Luxe Collection edition is gorgeous! I remember the first copy I ever owned was the iconic version by Francis Cugat that we probably all think of and recognize instantly. However, this version is just so pretty and delicate.

I am obsessed with this cover of Anne of Green Gables, and I am pretty sure Anne would be too. I am 100% putting this copy on my list to buy one day!

I think this copy of Little Women by Barnes and Noble is perfection! It sort of makes me think of quilts and samplers and the era that Little Women took place in.

I had so many to choose from with this title! I love how dreamy this edition is! I would have felt remiss if I had left the darling of the literary world, Jane Austen, off this list, and Pride and Prejudice is probably the most widely loved. (and this one might lean a little bit more lilac than pink..)

This Art Nouveau inspired set of love stories is absolutely beautiful. I love how this collection from Juniper Books includes Love in the Time of Cholera!

Now..my favorite! I love Jane Eyre and while I already have a copy, I need one of these two! The first cover is by Signature Classics, while the second version is a Wordsworth Luxe. Which one do you think I should get? You guys pick!

Book Review: Shores of Mercy by Lisa Howeler

Book Description:

There was a time in Ben Oliver’s life when his career was more important than anything — including his girlfriend, Angie, who he walked away from when she told him she was pregnant. Even before that night, he’d been drinking too much, but after that night, the drinking got worse.

That was four years ago. Now he’s sober and opened a law office half an hour from where he grew up. He’s stayed away from Angie and the little girl he never met because he believes their life will be better without him, but when her family moves back to the area and her parents ask him to be involved in his little girl’s life, his past catches up with him.

Judi Lambert has battled her own demons and is now fighting for her sobriety. She wants to kick her party-girl lifestyle to the curb and she’s well on her way. Not far into the journey to get her life back on track, though, she’s forced to relive a traumatic experience with a man she’d once thought was simply her ticket to a good time.

When Judi and Ben’s worlds collide, can they work together to get their lives back on track? And can Judi work to help Ben get Angie and his daughter back again?

My Thoughts:

I loved this return to Spencer Valley! I am going to be up front, Lisa is my buddy, but she did not ask me to read and review her book. I wanted to, and I pre-ordered this book way back in October knowing that I would love it. And knowing Lisa she would probably want criticism of some sort, but..she’s not going to get it from me because I adored this book.

One thing Lisa really excels at is writing characters who are accessible, relatable, people you would know, y’know? Characters who have hopes and dreams but have made mistakes, who do not have it all together, like most of us. Her books are always so full of wit and humor, that make me chuckle or laugh out loud while reading. And this book, like all the rest is funny, smart, heartwarming, and a little heartbreaking too.

Let’s start with Judi, the former party girl who is tired of living that lifestyle and wants to do something else with her life. This decision had a few factors in the forming of it, from being tired of waking up feeling crappy after a night out partying to a much larger, more traumatic incident that haunts her. Seriously, poor Judi, because she has A LOT going on in this book. Like seriously. I was rooting for her so hard, and there were so many situations that occurred that could have sent her spinning off in the wrong direction again. I think that despite her outward appearances, a flighty flibbertigibbet, she is really actually quite brave and strong.

Ben on the other hand, outwardly looks like a person who does have it all together. He has returned to the area after time away, and opened a law firm nearby. He has clients and responsibilities, and unfortunately at the beginning of this book, also has a totaled car which leaves him with some other longer lasting issues. Ben has skeletons in his closet too, just his aren’t on display for everyone. He has overcome a drinking problem, and lives with the fact that he abandoned the woman he loved and their baby, and has lived with this for four years. Ben’s story broke my heart a little, especially for his child. He has a chance now to change that, and every interaction with Ben and his tiny daughter are just adorable, and I was rooting for Ben too! Like, please, let this work for him. However, there were some hurdles in his way that needed to be worked out first.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and read it all in two days! It is very readable and I wanted to just keep reading and reading so I could see how things turned out for these two.

If you are interested, you can purchase the book here. You can visit Lisa’s blog here.

Hello February!

Hello February!

It always feel like January sticks around forever. By the time February rolls around, I am like that groundhog, peeking my head out, wanting to know if I should just go back in for a bit longer or if it is ok to come out. I can’t make any predictions, but it is still absolutely freezing here and I don’t feel like spring is coming anytime soon. Winter seems to actually make its arrival later every year, delaying our spring.

We did have some beautiful sunshine the other day, and I took advantage of Wyatt being at his grandmother’s house and took a (quick) walk outside. I have been feeling so cooped up lately! The day was gorgeous, the sun reflecting off of the snow was blinding, it was so cold that I could walk on top of the snow practically, and no one, no one was there except me. Birds and squirrels and me. It was so quiet and if my nose wasn’t freezing off I would have stayed out there longer. That last picture I believe is from a large bird strike in the snow, hunting some small unsuspecting creature more than likely.

We are between backpack carriers for Wyatt right now so it is very difficult to get him out in the woods for the time being. He has reached a point where it is harder to find one – he has just grown so much! We did find one online the other day though that we ordered, we have a very important trip to see wolves lined up. We want to have all bases covered – we have his wheelchair if it is not bad out, then the new backpack carrier, and finally we reserved a golf cart to take us around if needed. Finally, since we are going this month and the weather is unpredictable, I made sure both the rental house and our wolf tour reservation could be rescheduled if needed. So I feel we have a plan in place, and I like to have a plan. I am excited though and hope we can go when we want to; I think we will need a little adventure this month!

I have quite a few plans for this month actually! I want to do something for President’s Day, and start a unit study on a few of our early presidents with Wyatt, especially since he has decided he likes George Washington. We will probably do some weather predicting things tomorrow, and I want to visit a new to Wyatt museum. Wyatt also has a bunch of really big specialist appointments this month, that I am very anxious about, honestly. He goes to genetics and orthopedics next week, the two biggest we have scheduled. When I am anxious, I tend to go into overdrive and keep us busy; it seems to help me. So I make lots and lots of plans.

We have our Full Snow Moon party on Sunday – I can’t believe it is that time already! Mermaid Girl is coming over and I am in the middle of figuring out what all we will be doing and especially the menu. I like a theme but also, little kid picky eaters are the guests. We already had “Magic Moon Macaroni”. Maybe we will have Full Snow Moon cheese bread (I need a better name), and let them make their own, sprinkling the cheese on like snow, although with these two it will be a blizzard of snow! Whatever we have and do though, it will be a blast.

We also have my SIL’s baby sprinkle this month! I am so excited to meet this new baby. She is due in March, so Wyatt will have a new little cousin who also shares his birthday month. I bought the cutest little teether over the weekend to give with her big gift. It is a little dragon teether, and it is so adorable. Just a few more weeks and will meet baby girl!

This will be a pretty busy February!

I hope you all have a wonderful day today!

Tuesday Morning Coffee Catch Up

It is currently 6 degrees here. 6, and with windchill it feels like -1. Safe to say it is pretty darn cold out there. I am happy to be sitting here in my big comfy sweater over my pajamas, a warm cup of coffee next to me. We do not have a real fireplace or woodstove (to my great and utter sadness) but we do have an electric fireplace that is pretty cute and warms up the den to toasty on these super chill mornings.

My current evening read (right now I have daytime book and a nighttime book) is A Woman in the Polar Night, and while I am not in the Arctic it sure feels it. However, I am so very Michigan that I took this photo outside after taking a shower with soaking wet hair. I remember when I was in middle school and on the swim team, I would wait outside for my mom to pick me up after practice, and my wet hair would freeze into little icicles. I loved that I could shake my head and hear them click together. My mom was never as happy or excited about that as I was. I didn’t stay outside taking this photo that long though, just a few seconds, so I barely felt the cold before I was back inside and warm again.

Anyway, back to what I wanted to share about the book. I have to say, Ritter’s motivations for heading to the Arctic sounded very much like an introvert’s dream. I have a feeling her ideas of what it would be like were a little off. She was joining her husband and after a bit, decided she would join him, writing, ” I could stay by the warm stove in the hut, knit socks, paint from the window, read thick books in the remote quiet and, not least, sleep to my heart’s content.” Ritter probably should have written travel brochures for Arctic expeditions because I would have signed right up with that description.

I have been craving fresh and green and citrusy these days. The end of winter always makes me feel this way. I made one of my favorite fresh tasting salads the other night, a Mediterranean tuna salad that is full of parsley and mint and lime and just deliciousness. We eat a few cozy comfort meals, then throw in something light and fresh and it is like a total wake up. I just got my newest soap order in yesterday as well – coconut orange and it smells like a creamsicle. My shampoo and conditioner bars don’t change though, I stick with lavender tea tree.

We had a snow day the other day and Wyatt took great delight in throwing snowballs at me. We had a lot of fun out in the snow, but I think we both liked the hot cocoa afterwards better. In November I had bought Wyatt pajamas that said “Snow Day Snooze” for him to wear on a snow day and we had to wait all the way until now to use them! I did have to wonder about what happens to the mittens and gloves though – it’s like the sock phenomenon over here. Wyatt has a few different pairs – apparently all missing their mates. (quick someone write a children’s book about a mitten or glove looking for its partner!)

I mean, seriously, what the heck?

We had Mermaid Girl over yesterday afternoon and the two cousins had a blast playing together. I played with my cousins like that as a kid and I am so happy to see Wyatt play with his the same way. There were games and toys and books and crayons strewn everywhere, and finally the kids settled in at the table to color and draw and in Mermaid Girl’s case, write a story. I had this Viking activity pack handy from Willow and Owl and they really had fun with it. It was a nice cold afternoon activity to finally settle down with.It’s

It has been a few days of just simplicity and simple things, simple pleasures and I am not complaining. These are the moments that life is really about, the everyday and what we do in those hours. And while we do have things we have to do, and have places we have to go to, we make the middle moments counts.

How are you all today?

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Last week was very full! My kiddo had a tooth pulled Monday, we played catch up in school everyday after, and for fun, I threw in a snow day, complete with playing outside, cocoa, reading snowy day books.. all kinds of good stuff.

Read Last Week:

So, I absolutely LOVED this book! I love all things faerie and faerie related and always have. I checked this out from the library but I am 100% buying it for myself.

Reading This Week:

By the time this posts, I should have started Shores of Mercy already (I am writing this Saturday afternoon). I always enjoy the books in this series and I anticipate that this one will not be different. I am also planning on reading A Woman in the Polar Night – partly because I feel like I am in a polar tundra right now.

Posted Last Week:

What Wyatt’s Reading – January

Homeschool Journey: Happy Little Trees

Tuesday Morning Coffee Catch Up

Watching:

This past week we watched All Creatures Great and Small, which is one of my favorite shows. I love everything about it. And I decided I want to dress like Helen. Warm woolly knits in jeweled colors, corduroys and overalls, her hair always looks so pretty… hmm.

We also watched and finished Shetland (not crazy about that ending!), and watched a few episodes of Miss Scarlet and the Duke, where I get quite distracted by her tiny hat and how it perches on her head. I also get a bit distracted by Duke but for different reasons.

We watched two movies this weekend! On Friday, we watched The Lost City with Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum and Saturday we watched Love and Monsters. I have a weakness for all movies that are “adventuring in the jungle in search of something”. I love them all, whether serious or silly. This one was very silly and Billy and I were cracking up. Love and Monsters was also very good, although I was very tense in a few parts!

And that is about it from our little burrow! Hope all is well in your world!

What Wyatt’s Reading – January

Hi everyone!! It’s been a fun reading month, full of wolves and snow and adorable woodland creatures! We hit up our library at least twice a week, so I am not sharing all of the books that we read together, but I am sharing some of our favorites. I am also back to buying more books than I had been so some of these are from Wyatt’s own personal home library.

This post does contain Amazon Affiliate links. If you were to purchase a book using a link, I would make a small commission at no extra cost to you.

A Thing Called Snow was pretty loved universally around here, by the whole family. Zommer’s books are oversized and just beautiful. In this one a fox and a hare, born in the spring and about to experience their first winter, are on the lookout for snow. My Winter City was more my favorite, not Wyatt’s. I just loved this look at what winter looks and feels like, all the little details from frost in the dad’s beard to slushy bus rides. Noisy Night was all Wyatt. This one was pretty cool because you feel like you are going up a floor in the building with every page because the residents all complain about the noise above them, until we get to the very top. It was pretty cute. And finally, probably the favorite book of the entire month, No Fuzzball! Any cat lover will be delighted by this one, and how Queen Fuzzball adjusts to a new little kitten face in her kingdom. It is absolutely adorable and also, made us chuckle. Definitely a keeper.

Wyatt loved Wolfboy. I knew he would – he considers himself a wolfboy half the time. And I could certainly relate to the grumpy feelings of being hangry!

We finally got some snow around here the other day, so Wednesday afternoon, after playing in the snow, we came in, had hot chocolate, and read a stack of snowy picture books. When It Starts to Snow and Blizzard were two of our favorites! When It Starts to Snow is a book that feels slightly poetic, with how it keeps asking the questions “What if it starts to snow? What do you do? Where do you go? These questions are answered by all of the little woodland animals and made us feel all cozy, because we knew what we were doing on our snowy day. Blizzard was fantastic- we both loved it! The author John Rocco tells his story about the blizzard of 1978, and the part he played in helping his neighbors and community, along with his memories of that time. We both really enjoyed it! It probably was our favorite right after No Fuzzball.

I Love Books in the Otter series is one of Wyatt’s go to grabs right now. He loves it because he too, loves books, just like Otter, and going to the library.

As for longer read alouds, we read the second in the Heartwood Hotel series, The Greatest Gift. Wyatt loves these books about the animals who work and live and stay at the Heartwood Hotel. After we finished up The Greatest Gift we moved on to Fantastic Mr. Fox – we are still reading this one and while things seem grim for the foxes right now, we have faith that Mr. Fox will come up with something to save his family!

Have you read any of these?

Homeschool Journey: Happy Little Trees…

“There are no mistakes, only happy accidents..”

Gosh, we love Bob Ross in this house. Such a happy, gentle, uplifting soul he was. I needed some Bob Ross vibes last week and I was so happy I had planned for him to be our artist of the week all the way back when I was planning in the late fall. This time of year can get so blah you know?

We focused on Bob Ross quite a bit. We read about his life, we read as many picture books as I could find at the library about him, we watched him every night before Wyatt went to bed, and then had a family paint day. Wyatt now is a big fan of Bob Ross, which tickles me.

I did not know about Ross’ life other than watching him on Joy of Painting. I had no idea he was in the military, that he had been stationed in Alaska, that he taught in person classes that at first no one attended. When he got his television show, he was happy with just a simple little set, he didn’t need anything elaborate. He raised baby squirrels, and saved injured animals. I just adore him. He brought some lightness into our week last week, and into this week as Wyatt continues to watch him.

Our family Bob Ross inspired painting day was a lot of fun. There was no way I was using oil based paints with a 7 year old however, and knew I wanted to use the watercolors that come in the tube, to get that whole feel. I actually hit up our dollar store and was able to get everything I wanted! We usually have all of our materials on hand, but I didn’t have what I wanted for this particular project. I needed canvas boards, and instead of big paint brushes, which I thought would be hard for Wyatt to use, I opted for sponge brushes. We set up at the table, put on the Bob Ross episode “Mystic Mountains”, and got to painting!

The plan was for Billy to demonstrate in person along with Bob, and he also controlled the pause and playing of the video, in case Wyatt and I needed to catch up. I wanted Wyatt to use (sort of ) the techniques that Bob was using (although not the wet on wet since we were not using oil paints) but the brush movements, so instead of setting him free with paints and the canvas and going alone, we did a lot of hand over hand. There were parts of the painting I let him just paint freely, but other parts I helped him out, and I ended up doing the mountains because the knife work was hard for him with his current motor skills. So his painting is actually our combined painting.

Wyatt painted the water and sky freely, then I helped with the trees, clouds, and mountains, hand over hand for the trees and clouds. He also did the tree/island in the water. He was so happy!! He loves painting and asks to paint constantly. And usually, I let him.

Wyatt also learned about Idaho last week. His favorite facts were all potato based, that they grow a ton of potatoes, that there is a potato museum, and that frozen french fries were introduced to the world by J.R. Simplot in Idaho in 1953. We of course had to have frozen french fries with grilled cheese sandwiches that night.

We had a fantastic week last week!

What We Used:

This section contains Amazon Affiliate links. In addition to the curriculum I am creating for him, we also use curriculum from The Good and the Beautiful, The Waldock Way, and Blossom and Root for phonics, reading, science, and social studies.

Books:

P is for Potato: An Idaho Alphabet

Bob Ross and Peapod the Squirrel

This is Your World: The Story of Bob Ross

Videos:

And thanks to a friend, the Bob Ross episode of Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum on PBS.

In parting, I want to leave you all with a few Bob Rossisms.

“You can do anything you want. This is your world.”

“Talent is a pursued interest. Anything you’re willing to practice, you can do.”

“It’s hard to see things when you are too close. Take a step back and look.”

“There’s nothing wrong with having a tree as a friend.”

“Go out on limb. That’s where the fruit is.”

Tuesday Morning Coffee Catch Up

Happy day everybody! I am so grateful for coffee this morning. Yesterday was ROUGH – physically for Wyatt, emotionally for me. I fell into bed and just passed out last night, as did my kiddo.

Wyatt started the morning early, with physical therapy. Then we came home, he ate breakfast, we read a little, then he took a quick disco nap before we moved on to his next appointment – the dentist. My poor boyo had a cavity! The dentist gave us a few options, and we went with pulling the tooth since it is a baby tooth and would be a faster process for Wyatt to go through. Because Wyatt has cerebral palsy and epilepsy, there were a few extra hoops we had to jump through first. We needed medical clearance from one of Wyatt’s doctors and I spent last week nailing that down. Then after we had that we were able to schedule the extraction. The OG date they gave us was all the way in March but they had obviously underestimated my persistence in getting his form finished and the procedure done and over with.The dentist, who we absolutely love, the office staff and dental assistants and dentist, all are amazing, especially with kids with different needs. They had initially proposed strapping him to a board for the procedure which gave me a lot of anxiety. I knew he would hate that more than having his tooth actually pulled. In the end though they just had a bunch of staff members on hand for the shots in case it was needed (it wasn’t) then for the extraction the dentist did his job while the dental assistant and I held Wyatt still. He was excellent, although he did start shrieking and crying for about five minutes. We got to the car and I about collapsed from the emotion of it all. I hate watching him go through things like that. I think all parents do! He was still a bit sniffly, and since he refused to keep the gauze in his mouth, a little oozy too. I let him play with my phone all the way home (a treat he never ever gets to do) and that kept him busy and happier. (Thanks to my friend Kelly for that suggestion!) We had many friends and family sending us prayers and good vibes and I was appreciative of them all!

The staff were all charmed by little charmer. He was so happy and silly before the procedure, because that is Wyatt.

When we came home I discovered the front door to our house wide open. Not cracked, not ajar, wide open. I realized that in my anxiety I probably just never shut it when we left. Yay me. I need to carry Wyatt from the house to the car, and he is an armful these days! I more than likely carried him out, and then we just left, being in hyper-focused mode. But I didn’t want to just take him in after the house was open all that time! I listen to true crime ! So I locked Wyatt in my car, grabbed the gardening scissors off the porch, and entered the house, ready for anything! Miso had been sleeping on the couch and she woke up and stretched, so my first concern was immediately alleviated. Miso was ok. Phew. So then I searched the whole house and closets, including the basement, and when I felt it was all clear, went and got kiddo. Thank goodness for small houses! I didn’t have much to search and there are not many places to hide! We could go in and relax and have ice cream and nap and not worry about Michael Myers surprising us.

So yesterday was an adventure! We had a much better adventure last week. After occupational therapy last Thursday I decided the rainy gray day needed something special. So we went on a surprise, spur of the moment field trip to the Henry Ford Museum. I have a membership and it is so close to where we go for therapy so I was like, why not go for a bit?

I wanted to climb inside that cozy little geodisic dome and read. It was just so comfy looking! I refrained somehow though. We saw the chair Lincoln was in when he was shot, and George Washington’s special camp bed. Then Wyatt always loves the airplanes so we spent most of our time there. We had a really good time and I was glad that we changed up the day.

And we finally got some snow! Charles my squirrel friend was sort of amazed! I think it was his first snow.

I did not have time to do my homeschool recap yesterday so look for it tomorrow. I am excited to show you what we did – especially our artist of the week. Can you guess who it was?

How are you all doing this morning? What is in your cup? Has your week started off well?

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer
Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Hello everyone! It’s snowing here today and I am so excited. We have had virtually no snow this year which is not great for the lakes; I am also concerned about the apples this year, as apple trees need a certain amount of time in cold temperatures in order to produce fruit. And, I just like snow. Snow is prettier than ugly mud and dead plants. If you get enough, you can play in it. So, I am happy it is snowing this morning.

I had a bit of a week – nothing bad just a lot of phone calls and paperwork for Wyatt’s upcoming flurry of specialist appointments. I also spent quite a bit of time prepping for the next few weeks of school, and switching up what we are doing for language arts and science this month, which took a little extra work as well. I decided to shake things up a little this month!

However, this didn’t leave me much time to read, and when I tried to read before bed I managed about five minutes before crashing out. I feel like I have set us up in a good spot for a while though now, so this week should be a better one in terms of some down time.

Reading:

I am still reading Emily Wilde’s Encyclopaedia of Faeries, which I am enjoying very much! I just didn’t have enough time to read last week which was no fun! I am also starting Shores of Mercy this week, by Lisa R. Howeler or as some of you may know her, Lisa from Boondock Ramblings. This is the fourth installment in the Spencer Valley Chronicles, and I am really looking forward to revisiting this world. Lisa has a gift for writing characters who are like people you would meet in your neighborhood, just so real and relatable.

Posted Last Week:

Book Review: Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson

Tuesday Morning Coffee Catch Up

Homeschool Journey: Grunge, Gaudi, and Gray Wolves

Watching:

Billy and I finished up Grantchester and then binged out on Willow. I loved the movie when I was a kid, and I loved the tv show just as much! It was just so fun! Yes, it was campy, but that is all part of its charm. I also kept cracking up at the Elora Danan character. She just reminded me so much of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, in her teenage, slightly dingbatty, snarky way. It was just a really lighthearted watch for us. After watching all of Willow, we moved on to Shetland. We are behind on it and we are catching up. Gol-ly, that place is gorgeous! We are missing some of our favorites characters this time around though, which is a bummer. Tonight we are watching one of my all time favorite movies, Amelie. It’s homemade pizza, popcorn, and movie night!

And that is it from my corner of the Mitten State! What is going on in your world?

Book Review: Nine Liars by Maureen Johnson

Publisher Summary:

Stevie Bell solved the case of Truly Devious, and now she’s taking her detecting skills abroad when she becomes embroiled in a mystery from 1990s England. Another pulse-pounding and laugh-out-loud stand-alone mystery from New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson.

Senior year at Ellingham Academy for Stevie Bell isn’t going well. Her boyfriend, David, is studying in London. Her friends are obsessed with college applications. With the cold case of the century solved, Stevie is adrift. There is nothing to distract her from the questions pinging around her brain—questions about college, love, and life in general.

Relief comes when David invites Stevie and her friends to join him for study abroad, and his new friend Izzy introduces her to a double-murder cold case. In 1995, nine friends from Cambridge University went to a country house and played a drunken game of hide-and-seek. Two were found in the woodshed the next day, murdered with an ax.

The case was assumed to be a burglary gone wrong, but one of the remaining seven saw something she can’t explain. This was no break-in. Someone’s lying about what happened in the woodshed.

Seven suspects. Two murders. One killer still playing a deadly game.

My Thoughts:

So. This book. I absolutely loved all the books that came before this one, and I was super excited to see that this installment takes place in England, with the central murder mystery taking place at a manor house. I love settings like this, and I was looking forward to what Johnson did with this idea and how Stevie and the gang would handle it.

This book had a lot of characters. There are of course Stevie and her gang, plus David’s new friend in England, Izzy, then all of the characters from the central mystery, The Nine. Because there are nine of them. Or were. (cue ominous music)

Let’s start with The Nine. The book does so we will too. The Nine are a group of very close friends in the 90s, who live and work and go to school together. They share everything, swap romantic partners within the group all the time, and basically just live in each others pockets. However, they are on the precipice of leaving their snug hive, have packed up their shared home, and are about to start their own individual independent lives. So they plan to have one last hurrah, at the manor house of one of their group. They arrive, get drunk, and play a game of hide and seek in a rainstorm in the wee hours of the night. And in the morning, two of them are dead. Who did it?

I really enjoyed this whole mystery, the idea of it, being so Christie-esque. Now enter the Ellingham group. David, Stevie’s boyfriend, is living and going to school in London, while the rest of them are focused on finishing their last year back in Vermont. Filling out applications, taking tests, preparing for their futures. All except Stevie, who seems to be floundering and a bit lost. David calls with an invitation for the group to meet him in London, like a study overseas program, and with a little bit of finagling, they get the school to agree to them going, with the caveat that they must be learning and that the trip is purposeful and not just for vacation.

Now our gang in in London for the rest of the book, Stevie is introduced to this murder mystery by David’s friend Izzy, and for Stevie, the game is afoot. However, her friends aren’t quite as keen this time around. They need to stick to their plans, they want to accomplish what they are there for, and while they want to help solve this mystery, they also need to think about their own futures as well.

Stevie really bothers me in this book. She just was so selfish and not very self-aware, while also being really wrapped up in her personal issues. There was way too much of that sort of drama in this book compared to the others, and I had to remind myself that this is a YA book and not intended for adults. So maybe it is just that I am not the intended audience here, and did not care to revisit that part of youth. However, I could see it being a realistic portrayal of that time of life – a bit lost, a bit scared, confused, full of dreams but uncertainty too. So I am giving Stevie a break, I wasn’t too much better at 17 either.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book, with its nod to the locked room mystery.