Book Review: Happy Trail by Daisy Prescott

Goodreads Summary:

A man of few words, Ranger Jay Daniels values the calm, quiet solitude of the Great Smoky Mountains. Never quite fitting in with either side of his family, he prefers the company of birds and trees to people.

Yeah, he’d most definitely prefer a bird—any bird, any bird at all, take a vulture for instance—to the human-tornado hybrid that just blew onto his peaceful stretch of the Appalachian Trail.

The path of true love never has run smooth for Olive Perry. After getting dumped and promptly abandoned in the middle of her multi-month hike, Olive swears off men. Determined to finish the long trek by herself, she doesn’t need a prince—or broody and taciturn ranger—to save her.

Yet, when an early snowstorm threatens the mountains, and Ranger Daniels is charged with getting hikers to safety, that includes hot-tempered Olive Perry. Snowed in and forced to share an abandoned cabin, can Olive’s heated intensity melt Jay’s cool reserve?

And if so, will this happy trail lead to true love? Or will their time together be just another bump in the road?

My Thoughts:

I have been in the mood for some lighter reading these days; it’s the time of year, I think, making me crave something fun and nothing too serious. As I scrolled through Amazon looking for something that looked interesting, this one stood out to me. Hmm, bearded guy and a park ranger – sure, why not? I like nature and national parks. And bearded guys. My decision was made.

And I am glad I picked this one! I really loved it. I loved the characters and the setting, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the Appalachian Trail (the AT). And it was funny! One of the ways to my heart is humor, and this book made me smile and chuckle out loud a few times.

Jay is a bit of a loner, preferring the woods to the city, and flocks of birds to crowds of people, and loves his job as a Ranger for the National Parks. While he is Ranger, his primary role is that of a biologist, specifically studying birds. That’s not to say that is all he does – he does have to do other job duties, such as clearing the trail of hikers when there is impending bad weather. Which is what brings him to Snowbird, aka Olive. With a big storm system on the way, Jay sets off to clear the trail of hikers that could caught out in it, a dangerous position to be in. By the time he locates her, it is too late to avoid the snowstorm and the two must take refuge in an old moonshiner cabin off trail.

The interactions between these two are adorable. While Jay is a gentleman, Olive can’t seem to help putting her foot in her mouth occasionally, slipping up with the random innuendo. Olive had found herself stranded on the AT after her boyfriend dumped her and abandoned her on the trail alone. Prior to the three miles they had hiked together, the only other long walks Olive had taken were on big city streets and in heels – this was a totally new experience. And after finding herself stranded, she had two choices – quit or keep going. She chose to keep going (but for more reasons than I will tell you) and found that she actually really liked it. When Jay found her, she was reluctant to stop for the night but in a refreshing twist in a romance novel, she took professional advice, stating that if someone like him was worried about the weather, then she would be kind of stupid if she ignored that. (paraphrasing here) I hate it when characters self-sabotage and she didn’t do that, which was nice.

I pretty much devoured this book. Jay and Olive were so cute together, and both were carrying around what they felt were secrets about themselves, and carried the weight of the bias of other people, for two totally different reasons. Jay, for feeling like he never fit in with either side of his family or even in his community, for being half-Japanese and half-American, Olive for being.. well I will let you read it.

This book is part of the Penny Reid universe, something I was confused about until my friend cleared it up for me. I kept seeing this book linked to Penny Reid and I was confused since the author is Daisy Prescott. There is a whole universe that Reid has created and now other authors are writing under the umbrella of that world. I haven’t read any Penny Reid before, but I am definitely going to start – and I know where I am starting too, with the Winston Brothers series. The Winston brothers show up in Happy Trail so it will be fun to read their stories now that I have met them. Overall, I am super happy I read this book and am looking forward to exploring this world that Reid has created, and the characters that other authors are adding to it.

The Beautiful May Be Small

I have a little book that was my grandpa’s. A little “Diary and Daily Reminder”. I am told all the time that my penchant for record keeping and writing stuff down is just like him. I found this little book last year, at the start of the pandemic, and since I had a practically brand new planner sitting around that wasn’t getting used at all, I started to keep track of what I had done that day in it, rather than what I had to do in the future. When 2020 ended, I ordered another one, not knowing what changes 2021 may bring. And while I do add more to it now, I have some stuff to add to those calendar pages, I still use it mainly as a daily diary of sorts – nothing too much, just a little jot here and there of what we did.

My planner has little quotes for every week, just like his did, and the quote for this week in mine is “Look closely. The beautiful may be small.” (Immanuel Kant) I love everything about this; it is so true. I try to find the happy and joy and beauty in everyday, no matter how big or small. Some days big things happen. Sometimes, it is just that I spotted a bunny on a walk, or that I finished a really good book.

So far May has been made up of lots of little things that have made me smile. Lots of flowers, lots of sunshine, and even on rainy days, good moments spent inside, even just enjoying a tea at night while watching a British mystery show with Billy.

May is the month of the Flower full moon, and I fully can see why. I feel surrounded by their colors bursting around me, at the garden center, in yards, everywhere. I am a dandelion fan, I’m sure much to the chagrin of my neighbors who are all very good at keeping their yards perfect. I am sort of a let it grow person, and I like the home the yard provides to insects. I mean, we do cut our grass but not as regularly as most people do. And I like to see the happy faces of the dandelions popping out all over the place. Without them, how could Wyatt make wishes? I am also putting them to use making a dandelion oil infusion to add to lotion bars – a process that takes four weeks!

I love the fact too, that I name all of my houseplants and when I bring a new one home, Wyatt will ask me what it’s name is. These two are new to the house today – Lucy the lemon tree (which I ordered one snowy January evening!), and then little Olive, because “Olive” snails.

I do have this little corner of plants that are nameless though. A wandering dude and a pothos. Any suggestions?

A little spiderweb in my car the other morning, lit up by the sunlight. I guess it has been a bit since I have had a passenger! I let it be.

Lately, this is mostly what my life has been about. Small moments.

Just life I guess. The little things we usually don’t talk about as they don’t seem very newsworthy, yet this is exactly what life is made of, small moments.

What beauty have you seen around you this week?

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

 It’s Monday, What Are You Reading? is now hosted by Kathryn at The Book Date.

Last week was a good one. This weekend was even better. So much time outside on Saturday, which was good because it rained all day on Sunday for Mother’s Day. We still got out and went for a drive through the rain, where I spotted a new to me bird, a green heron. I always get so excited about this. Billy and Wyatt surprised me with a few nature books that I wanted – they know me so well.

Read Last Week:

I really loved The Cottingley Secret!! But I love all things fairie so, no surprise there. Wicked Plants was a fun one to page through and read when I only had a short time to do so. Pretty interesting stuff in there!

Reading this Week:

I am feeling in the mood for some lighter reading right now – so I downloaded these two to my Kindle. I read the Witches of Palmetto Point series last spring so I am interested to see if I still enjoy it. And Happy Trail is new to me but the mention of park rangers has me intrigued.

Posted Last Week:

Chit Chat Coffee Time

Currently.. May

The Weekend Vibe

Watching:

Finishing up Shadow and Bone. We are also still watching Death in Paradise and we have added Jonathan Creek to our lineup as well, another British mystery series.

And that is about it for this morning! I hope all is well in your corner of the world!

Chit Chat Coffee Time

Today, I am impatient to get outside. The sun is shining, and I have a bunch of plants I bought last night after heading back at the garden center with my friends. I said over and over to them, that I wasn’t going to buy anything, and I really didn’t plan on it. But then, I did. Most of the cart is filled with little 99 cent herbs and veggies, like pumpkins and rue and lovage and sage, some for the garden for us to eat, and some for the butterflies. However as we wandered around chatting and exclaiming over all the plants, I found myself adding a few more.. some yarrow, some lupine, and then the plants with those cuplike leaves, brunnera. I think I am in love with those, they are so cool. We have empty space in our front garden and I think they are all going to go there, nestled in with the raspberry bushes.

I also bought the cutest teeny little prayer plant.

Reconnecting in person with some of my family has been wonderful for all of us, as all of us have been so isolated for a year, none of us had a bubble outside of the family that we lived with, and I think we are making up for lost time. My husband has been to my brother’s at least three times, Wyatt and his cousin have been together at least that many times as well. Watching them play together has been awesome, after all this time. I have visited my mom at least twice. (although I talk to her numerous times a day). My mom’s sciatic nerve has been giving her grief this week so that has been not fun, so I popped by the other day to drop off a new ice pack and to just visit with her for a bit. Then Thursday, I took Wyatt over for arts and crafts time with my niece, who spends the day with my mom while her parents are at work. The kids had fun decorating their geckos!

And, I think that is it for this morning. Those plants are calling my name and I can’t resist any longer!

Have a good day everyone!

Currently..May

It is time for Anne In Residence’s monthly Currently post where we answer one word prompts about different things we are doing and feeling. I always love the insight I gain from these, taking inventory of my own life. This month we are looking at what we are consumingexploringgettinghoping, and seeing.

Consuming: We finally got with the program, a bit behind the trend, and got an Instant Pot. We have not used it much yet but I already know it is going to be helpful for dinners! Billy works late a lot, and it is always like last minute that I find out. The Instant Pot I think, will help us eat healthier more often. (If you have one and have a go-to recipe you love drop a link in the comments! I would love to hear what you all are enjoying) I am also hoping to make jam and yogurt in it!

Exploring: All of our favorite trails and hopefully some new ones soon! We are on the lookout for new places outdoors to explore this spring and summer.

Getting: Our garden in, bit by bit, slowly but surely. We have one no-dig bed set up, and I hope to get one more done before planting in two weeks. We are also getting ready for our camping trip next month, including a new tent. I guess my husband hopes to tent camp a lot over the summer…I am not so sure about that? I like a room that can’t blow away and a real bathroom but I can do it a few times for Wyatt and Billy. We also bought tickets to Jurassic Quest, a drive through dinosaur event that will be happening near us next month. I think it will be fun!

Hoping: Oh, for so many things. But I would be happy with more nights by the fire this summer, and coffee every morning.

Seeing: Our newly formed bubble! My brother, SIL, and niece, and my mom have “bubbled” together with us now that we all have vaccines. With Wyatt and his medical needs, we still have to stay pretty locked down but they have all agreed to do that with us. It has been a long time coming for us to have this experience, and it has been so nice to be with family again. We are also seeing signs of spring – the red-winged blackbirds singing in the cattails, the early flowers bursting with color from their beds where they nestled all winter, even a few bees circling the apple blossoms on our tree. It’s going to be an apple summer this year!

How about you? What have you been consuming, exploring, getting, hoping, and seeing?

The Weekend Vibe

This weekend was all about time outside and with people we love. It was a very full, very fun weekend. I feel like, finally, spring is here and we are free to roam.

We started off with a hike at our favorite metropark, Oakwoods. We were in search of tadpoles and vernal pools, but no dice. I mentioned this in my Sunday post and I was slightly alarmed to hear that other people have been looking and haven’t spotted any either! What is up with that? Is it too soon? Too dry? I would love to hear from someone who has spotted tadpoles this year. We were rewarded though however, with a spotting of the Pileated Woodpeckers that live there, and also these Jack-in-the-Pulpits! And some moss, because I love moss.

We also tried a new taco takeout place that is nearby, that we had been wanting to stop at – Atwater Street Tacos. We ate them in the car, which is a feat, I think, but holy moly they were amazing!! They are my new favorite. Billy and I split the tacos and an order of tostadas, and they were fantastic. Wyatt also enjoyed the chips and the cheese quesadilla that he had too.

After our hike and car picnic, we headed home to be lazy until it was time to go to my brother’s for a bonfire. Everyone had a blast, but the kids most of all. They played ALL NIGHT outside, and were laughing and dirty and just having so much fun. I had gotten a rope ladder free from Designed2Climb, so we hung that up and let the kids play on it. My niece got brave and climbed up to the top, and it was a great motivator for Wyatt to work on reaching and going on tall knees and pulling himself up and standing. The adults all sort of took turns playing with and watching the kids, and chatted by the fire, enjoying our adult beverages. It was time to head home all too soon. I think next time we may take our tent and let the kids crash out inside when they get tired instead.

We went home and crashed out (after I washed the smoke scent from my hair), that kind of sleep you have when you have had a fun day outside. Heavenly. Which was good, because I had a date early Sunday morning!

On Sunday bright and early in the morning, I met my friend Kelly at the garden center, our first visit of the year! Doesn’t she look so pretty? I call us the odd couple, we are so different yet so similar too – we have been friends for 20 years, were in each other’s weddings, and have been through many ups and downs of life together. We are totally going to be Grace and Frankie when we are older. Guess which character I am?

I wasn’t quite ready to go bonkers yet, this is Michigan and we may still have a freeze, but I did get some snapdragons and this totally adorable snail begonia, due to my love of all things snail. It’s on my desk as I sit here and I love it. We had so much fun shopping for plants together and making our lists for our gardens.

This weekend just left my soul feeling so full and happy, and refreshed for our week of homeschooling and all the little odd myriad everyday things that need to get done.

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

The past week was a very good one – full of reunions, playing outside, music, and learning. And tacos. We also had some fabulous tacos this week. Things we didn’t do – find tadpoles or go on a full moon walk, both of which were on our list. We absolutely just can’t find any tadpoles! We are going to make another go of it this week, but all of our vernal pools are bone dry this year. Billy has an idea of where to find some as a last ditch attempt – otherwise I am totally putting in a pond this year. The night of the full moon, Wyatt simply was tired so we postponed our walk until next month.

Read Last Week:

I didn’t finish either of these although I am enjoying them both! The Cottingley Secret is really good. I was also that kid who loved fairies as a kid, and also as a teenager – I totally grew up in the 80s and 90s, and in the 90s fairy stuff was everywhere! So this is a fun read. I had read about the Arthur Conan Doyle connection to fairies before so it is fun to read this fictionalized version of that whole fairy frenzy. I will continue to read them this week.

Posted Last Week:

Chit Chat Coffee Time – this week I chattered on about our reunions with family members and identiy and homeschooling

Book Review: The Nature of Witches

Watching and Listening:

Billy and I are fully engrossed in Shadow and Bone, it is so good! We are also watching Death in Paradise, which I think I might start a rewatch of soon. Wyatt is watching Wild Kratts still, and has dropped Peppa Pig for Nature Cat. (a better choice in my opinion!)

I am continuing to listen to podcasts – mostly true crime and nature pods. I listed to a great a podcast about Ursinology, a podcast all about bears, on Alie Ward’s Ologies, and it was one of my favorite episodes. As for true crime, I’ve been listening to Morbid and Crime Junkie lately. I finished up Your Own Backyard with Chris Lambert and was seriously impressed with the depth of his research and skill and sensitivity he displayed in that podcast. And, it just might have helped to solve the case.

Wyatt has discovered 80s music and also, Here Comes the Sun, his new favorite. Our house usually has some variation of Eric Church, The Dead South, Nathaniel Rateliff and the Night Sweats, 70s folk music, Sesame Street, A-Ha’s Take on Me, Here Comes the Sun, and Miranda Lambert playing at all times. It’s quite a mix.

Anyway, that is it from my corner of the world. Stay safe and well everyone!

Chit Chat Coffee Time

This week was a week of reunions. On Tuesday, my little group of friends got together in person for the first time since last fall – thank goodness it is now warm enough to do so! We were down a person in our crew who couldn’t make it which was a bummer, but the three of us who were there were just talking and laughing the whole time and it filled my soul. I went home feeling so refreshed – these women are so important to me and I was so glad to be able to hang out with them again.

Then later in the week, my brother and I tore off the band-aid and got together. So, on Thursday I got to see a sight that brought tears to my eyes. My son and my niece reunited, playing and laughing and giggling together, as they played pirates and got into general mayhem together. Then, on Friday, I went and picked my mom up and we hung out. She and Wyatt had such a blast – reading books, playing on the floor, singing. I got to show her my newly remodeled office, and introduce her to our menagerie of critters. Harry even came out of his hide to see what was going on, and as a nocturnal gecko he usually sleeps during the day.

Marlow was also happy to see my mom.

This week I have also been busy looking through the new curriculum I purchased for Wyatt for next year. Can I say I am super excited about it too? There is a whole unit on rocks and minerals that I can’t wait to “dig” into with him – I even learned of two places to take him next year as little field trips as part of this unit, the Fossil Park in Sylvania, OH, which is about an hour away, and then there is another place about four hours north of us that we may plan an overnight trip around. I am genuinely looking forward to starting next year.

This actually came up when I was hanging out on Tuesday with my friends. None of them homeschool, or want to homeschool, which I get. It’s not for everyone. It is the right thing for my family though, at least right now. And we are enjoying it. My friend said something though that gave me an existential crisis for a few days though – totally well meaning, of course, she loves me, but she said she doesn’t want me to lose my identity and who I am, as I am not just a homeschool mom. I went home and have been thinking all week about just who I am. I came to the conclusion that no, I am not “just a homeschool mom” but yes, it is a big part of my identity right now. I am a mom. I love homeschooling Wyatt, and shaping his education. But the rest of me is the same – I am the same person that I always have been. My priorities might be different, but that happened when I became a mother. I’m still a reader, an animal lover, a nature enthusiast; I’m still painfully shy unless I am with people I am comfortable with, a cheerleader for those people that I love, but also very blunt and plain speaking. I’m a fixer, a problem solver. Curious, creative, with a quick temper at times that I have spent the past few years working on. I still am a daydreamer who wants a few acres of land with animals and bees and an orchard, to travel and see different places. It’s a weird thing to think about . How do we define ourselves? By our likes and dislikes? Our personality? We are more than what we do, that is for sure. My husband is more than a computer guy. One of my friends more than a respiratory therapist, another more than a stay-at-home mom. Anyway, just something I have been lightly pondering this week. Lol.

We also celebrated my mom’s birthday this week! We went to my brother’s where the kids happily played outside and the rest of us chatted and hung out. I am in love with this photo of Wyatt – he looks so happy and content here. Plus I love those overalls I bought him to play in. I got them at a work wear store online, and they are so well made. And most importantly, have reinforced back pockets which we need for our kid who scoots around on his bottom most of the time right now while we work on walking! I can’t even tell you how many pairs of pants we go through in the summer…

Anyway – I have probably rattled on enough for today. What is going on with you guys?

The Nature of Witches

Goodreads Summary:

For centuries, witches have maintained the climate, their power from the sun peaking in the season of their birth. But now their control is faltering as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. All hope lies with Clara, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season.

In Autumn, Clara wants nothing to do with her power. It’s wild and volatile, and the price of her magic―losing the ones she loves―is too high, despite the need to control the increasingly dangerous weather.

In Winter, the world is on the precipice of disaster. Fires burn, storms rage, and Clara accepts that she’s the only one who can make a difference.

In Spring, she falls for Sang, the witch training her. As her magic grows, so do her feelings, until she’s terrified Sang will be the next one she loses.

In Summer, Clara must choose between her power and her happiness, her duty and the people she loves… before she loses Sang, her magic, and thrusts the world into chaos.

My Thoughts:

I was so excited about receiving this e-book ARC from NetGalley! I kept seeing it around the internet and I knew I would love it. I love this cover, the title, the premise..all are things that call to me!

When I finally got the opportunity to really dive into this book, I didn’t want to stop reading! I read it every chance I got until I was finished, all in one day. It was a fun, quick read.

In the world that Griffin has built, witches exist and each witch is tied to a season – within these ties lies the magic to manipulate the weather and world during that season. These witches help to keep the natural world in balance, protecting all people from major storms and weather events that would otherwise destroy, like out of control wildfires, tornadoes, blizzards – you get the idea. Clara is a different though – she is an Everwitch, the first of her kind in generations. As an Ever, she is able to manipulate and use her magic all year. And it is not a moment too soon either, as the world is shifting out of balance and catastrophic weather events are happening out of season, and the witches who would normally be able to control this weather can’t do it. It is not their season, and trying to restore the balance depletes them. Clara, however, does not want this responsibility or power. Her power is strong and has caused some very tragic side effects, and she would rather live free, without it.

But the world needs her. And Sang, her new mentor, teaches her how to love her magic, herself, and to open her heart again. I have to admit, I loved the love story in this book. I am usually a give or take on the romance plot line in books unless it is a romance book, but this one I really enjoyed. Sang is a beautiful soul and a wonderful character. He is a spring and has such a joyful magic.

Overall, I really loved this book, and I look forward to reading more from this author!

Thank you to NetGalley and Sourcebooks Fire for the chance to read and review this book!

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 was a pretty good week last week, despite the crazy snow we had. Yesterday we were back at my mom’s, going through the things that my stepfather had accumulated in his life. I find it sad, I miss him, but at the same time I feel like I am getting glimpses of who he was before I met him when I was ten. I mean, I really I didn’t know him very well then either, it was just as I got older that I did. I found a letter yesterday that he wrote in 1950 to a friend, but never mailed. In it he talked about how many Valentines he had gotten that year – it was just cute to think of a ten year old Jerry talking about his Valentines to his friend. I also found a really cool vintage dairy crate from Erie Crate, it was a neat find. I thought I could keep wine in it. Or maybe plants! We also upgraded Luna’s tank last week to give her a better hide – check out how awesome this looks! I feel so Game of Thrones or Hogwarts now.

Read Last Week:

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin: Ooo I loved this one so much! I am a person who lives pretty closely to the seasons so I loved that this book was tied to that. Review this week. (NetGalley)

Reading This Week:

So, I won’t finish all these this week. Those days are gone. But I will be hopscotching about. I read Wendell Berry in college and loved everything he said; I am excited to revisit him. That book will be a slow read for me. The other two I will be bouncing back and forth on more frequently.

Posted Last Week:

Chit Chat Coffee Time where I talk about whatever is on my mind

Spring to Snow.. about our trip to the dairy farm (and baby goats!)

Watching:

We have been watching a lot more Netflix than usual this past week. We watched The Irregulars, which we were totally sucked into. When we finished that, we moved on to Shadow and Bone, which is fantastic! Neither of us have read the books but now we are definitely going to. And even though I said I wasn’t going to do it, I did. I started watching the new season of Death in Paradise. I always have to grieve the changing of the detectives, and DI Jack Mooney was my favorite; when he left I swore off the show. But this new guy, DI Neville Parker has won me over, although it did take a few episodes. He’s no Jack, but I like him. We’ve also been watching the YouTube people Weed Em’ and Reap and they are the coolest little family.

And that is it from my corner of the world! Stay safe and well everyone!