Book Review: When We Found Home by Susan Mallery

when we found home Received from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Summary:

Life is meant to be savored, but that’s not easy with no family, limited prospects and a past you’d rather not talk about. Still, Callie Smith doesn’t know how to feel when she discovers she has a brother and a sister–Malcolm, who grew up with affection, wealth and privilege, and Keira, a streetwise twelve-year-old. Callie doesn’t love being alone, but at least it’s safe. Despite her trepidation, she moves into the grand family home with her siblings and grandfather on the shores of Lake Washington, hoping just maybe this will be the start of a whole new life.

But starting over can be messy. Callie and Keira fit in with each other, but not with their posh new lifestyle, leaving Malcolm feeling like the odd man out in his own home. He was clever enough to turn a sleepy Seattle mail-order food catalog into an online gourmet powerhouse, yet he can’t figure out how to help his new sisters feel secure. But affection isn’t Malcolm’s strong suit…until a beautiful barista teaches him that an open heart, like the family table, can always make room for more.

In this emotional, humorous and heartfelt story, Susan Mallery masterfully explores the definition of a modern family–blended by surprise, not by choice–and how those complicated relationships can add unexpected richness to life.

My thoughts:

I thought this book was a very sweet read about an nontraditional family. I think in this day and age, the definition of family is very fluid, and I think that this book celebrates the a family that has come together in a very unique, if complicated, way. The three characters in this book are all family, half-siblings, all with the same father, different mothers. Three different experiences growing up. Three different backgrounds, three different demons. When they are assembled together finally, all in one place, they need to learn to accept each other, these differences, and to trust one another. To do the things family does automatically – trust, love, respect. And these are things that Malcolm, Callie, and Keira need to learn how to do, and how to become the family that they are.

Malcolm has known his place for a very long time. He is the grandson of a wealthy man, a self-made business owner. Callie and Keira have both had more tragedy in their lives, that has left them a little more damaged. Malcolm has some issues himself, but at least he has always had the stability of his home, at least since he was ten. When his sisters finally arrive and they are all together for the first time, they start to sort themselves out. Reveal the vulnerabilities within, slowly but surely. Callie and Keira bond quicker than Malcolm does with either of them, but I think that makes sense. He has his reasons.

I loved this story, and enjoyed reading about how they all slowly became a family. Little by little and step by step, they all found happiness. And of course, there is the other stuff that is happening too – the love interests, their jobs, learning and becoming who they are supposed to be. Not just a family, but their full, complete selves.

This was a lovely read, a heartfelt book about family, and ultimately, coming home.

Book Review: The Hawkweed Legacy

hawkweed I received this book for free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review.

Goodreads Summary:

Poppy is discovering a purpose for her powers in Africa, but she is haunted by a vision of her own death. Taken in by a boy and his great-grandmother, a healer, they vow to keep her safe-even if that ultimately means holding her captive. But Poppy never stops longing for Leo and, when she feels his magic begin to spark, she will do anything to be reunited with him.

Desperate to regain Poppy’s trust and bring her home, Charlock embarks on a plan to reunite Leo with his mother. What Charlock doesn’t foresee are the string of consequences that she sets into motion that leave Ember all alone and prey to manipulation, the clan open to attack from other witches, Sorrel vulnerable to Raven’s ghost, Betony determined to protect her son from his father’s fate, and which leave both Leo and Poppy in terrible danger.

My Thoughts:  This book picks up pretty immediately from where the first leaves off. I really enjoyed this book, the surprises, the explanations, the ups and downs.

Everyone in this book is a mess, and in disarray, from the start of this book. Poppy’s absence leaves the clan in danger, unprotected without the queen. Ember is struggling, as is Leo, to adjust to life in regular society, and life without Poppy. Charlock is busy trying to hold things together and to keep Poppy’s position safe, but her good intentions lead to not so good results. She reunites with her old BFF Betony, who has no memory of her life as a young girl. Sorrel is finally free of her mother – or so she thinks. Things start to go really south for everyone, as the story spins on, leading to a big dramatic finish.

I absolutely loved all the backstory in this book. All the information about Ember/Poppy’s mom, Charlock and her friend Betony; Charlock and Raven’s youth together. We learn more about the coven, and the lengths they will go to protect their secrets. I loved these flashbacks.

There were some things I didn’t love too. I didn’t love Ember’s slow crumble into a character completely unrecognizable from the delightful girl from Prophecy. I didn’t love her loneliness and new hardness. I didn’t enjoy either, what happened to Leo. I really felt that part was unnecessary. I have to say, I hated that part. It was super ugly and distasteful, and then hard to reconcile later on.

Overall though, I really enjoyed this book. And I wonder if there is a third in the works? If so, I will for sure read it.

Thank you Little Bird Publicity for the chance to read and review this book!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date
We finally had a nice relaxing week. Yay! I needed it. Today we went to the zoo with my brother and family, we had a great time. Wyatt loved the polar bears and the giraffes (whom he calls Gigi after his stuffed animal giraffe), while my niece L. loved the lions and zebras (my favorite too!) The zoo is in the process of building a brand new habitat for the red pandas and the tigers – I can’t wait to see what they do, as their new penguin habitat is amazing.
This week motown is gearing up to honor the passing of one of their own, with the funeral services of the Queen of Soul, Aretha Franklin. This whole week in Detroit has viewings and and a free tribute concert in her honor and memory, with her funeral taking place on Friday. There is a plan to line the street with pink Cadillacs, as many as heed the call. It was a truly a sad day here in Detroit, when Franklin passed.
Read Last Week:
I loved both of these very different reads!! Dear Bob and Sue was a very entertaining read, and I feel inspired! Billy and I used to vacation all the time at the National Parks, but haven’t been for a while. Now, I just want to hit the road and start seeing as many as I can again. Do you have a favorite NP? So far, mine is Shenandoah.
Look for my full reviews this week! Also, I chickened out of I’ll Be Gone in the Dark. Just looking at the photos and imagining the last moments of these people had me teary and then later on, wide awake in bed. My true crime reading time in life might have come to an end.
Reading This Week:
hazel wood
The picture books are right next to the YA books in our library, so usually after getting Wyatt’s books, I wander over to see what I can find. I saw this one and remembered how I had wanted to read it, but like so many others, got knocked aside a few times. I decided now was the perfect time to read it. I am only like 20 pages in, but I am hooked!
Watching:
Sharp Objects – so freaking good!!!
We just started Castle Rock, and I am reserving judgement for now. I have high hopes – and it is cool to see so many faces from the movies, etc show up (like Sissy Spacek!)
How about you all? What have you been up to lately?

Saturday Snapshot

SaturdaySnapshot

Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads

In July, we went to a kite festival on Belle Isle in Detroit. We had gone the year before and it was such an amazing sight, all the multi-colored kites flying through the sky. This year was a little different. No kites. No wind. It was a still, hot, humid day. If the kites could have sailed through the moisture in the air, kite day would have been hopping! Despite the gross weather, we set up shop under a tree and hung out for a bit, listening to music, snacking, and basically just enjoying the day and some family time.

I remembered not to touch the fuzzy caterpillar! And I loved our shade tree – doesn’t it look like a woman, arms outstretched, head back, dancing in joy? I could be a little fanciful I guess.

Billy took a little walk, investigating the the food trucks that were lining the street. Wyatt and I stayed in the shade, waiting to see what Billy had found. Billy bought Wyatt his own snack, but somehow that little hand kept sneaking over and eating our chips and guacamole…. He of course was welcome to them, it had just never crossed our mind he would want it!

A short little outing, but we enjoyed some good tunes and family time. We are looking forward to next year – and hopefully a cooler, breezier day!

Book Reviews: The Hawkweed Prophecy

hawkweed prophecy

The Hawkweed Prophecy: Goodreads Summary: 

Poppy Hooper and Ember Hawkweed couldn’t lead more different lives. Poppy is a troubled teen: moving from school to school, causing chaos wherever she goes, never making friends or lasting connections. Ember is a young witch, struggling to find a place within her coven and prove her worth. Both are outsiders: feeling like they don’t belong and seeking escape.

Poppy and Ember soon become friends, and secretly share knowledge of their two worlds. Little do they know that destiny has brought them together: an ancient prophecy, and a life-changing betrayal. Growing closer, they begin to understand why they’ve never belonged and the reason they are now forever connected to each other.

Switched at birth by the scheming witch Raven Hawkweed, Poppy and Ember must come to terms with their true identities and fight for their own place in the world. Enter Leo, a homeless boy with a painful past who – befriending them both – tests their love and loyalty. Can Poppy and Ember’s friendship survive? And can it withstand the dark forces that are gathering?

My Thoughts: I loved this book. I am a big fan of all things witchy and paranormal, and the idea of these two girls struggling to find their place and identities and finding friendship was appealing. Both Poppy and Ember were victims of a great betrayal, born of ambition and greed. They struggled in friendships, in their own identity, knowing that somehow they just didn’t fit in with everyone else around them. Ember was a bright and airy girl, missing the necessary magic to belong to her family and coven; Poppy on the other hand, is a handful, not even accepted by her own mother. One day they stumbled upon each other in a secluded dell, and it was friendship from the first. Ember’s wonder at all the things that jaded Poppy could show her, Poppy eating up the ancient texts that Ember loaned to her, discovering a side of herself that she didn’t realize she had.

I loved that this book was about finding one’s place, yet the place for the story itself was ambiguous. It could have been anywhere. And sometimes, it felt like it could be anytime. I loved the coven and the lore surrounding them and their ways, the other covens – like I said, I like witchy stories, and this one was a good one.

Leo was the one part of this book I didn’t care for, yet his character is very central to the plot of the book and moving the plot along. I think that is my problem. There is too much importance placed on him.

Overall I enjoyed this book a great deal, and was happy to have the second book right at hand to start immediately! Stay tuned to this website, my review of The Hawkweed Legacy will be up in a day or two!

 

 

Spoiler – Trigger Warning for some:

There is a very sad part in this book regarding Poppy’s cat. I couldn’t read it, I hate animal deaths in books. If it bothers you too, just be warned that it happens.

 

Northern Michigan – Vacation Part Two

I have always wanted to go to the wineries on Mission Point. I finally got the chance to, albeit with a preschooler in tow. We didn’t get to do as much wine tasting as we would have (my 3 year old niece, my brother and sister-in-law were with us too), but my SIL and I decided that a girls trip there is an absolute must in our future! We at least got some good ideas of where we wanted to go.

We did get to do some cool stuff, besides gawking at the beautiful scenery that surrounded us. First we headed to the end of the peninsula to the lighthouse. I think this one of my favorite parts of the whole trip! The history, the water, the trees and the forest surrounding it – I could easily imagine being a lighthouse keeper there, in the middle of winter, with my snowy owl visitors from the Arctic.

 

 

After traipsing about with the other tourists, we headed toward Brys Estate Vineyards and their Secret Garden. It was the perfect place to go with our littles. A big beautiful garden for the kids to explore, pick blueberries, cut lavender, and enjoy the riot of color and flowers.

We walked around the garden for quite a while, until the rain that had threatened all day began in earnest. Chrissy and I took a moment to run into the store and look around while the guys loaded up the kids. If you do go to the Secret Garden and you have the chance to buy their lavender shortbread, do it!! It was delicious!! I wish I had bought more while I was there, since the whole car wanted to devour mine, including the kiddos. I of course shared but had I known I would have bought more. Chrissy and I also took advantage of the rain and the kids sleepiness to enjoy a record breaking for time wine tasting at Brys Vineyards, up the hill from the gardens. The ones we tried were delicious! I particularly enjoyed their deep reds. Yum!

By this point it was time to meet the rest of our family in Leland (Fishtown) one of our favorite parts of the whole trip every year. I love touring through the stores, and I of course love the Dam Candy Store. I also pop into the book store every year to make a purchase, of course. A few years ago there was a campaign to Save Fishtown! And I am glad they were able to. My husband has gone backpacking on Manitou Island, about three hours by ferry boat from Fishtown, and it would not be the same without the gray, weather beaten shacks turned stores that remain of the old fishing village.

Afterwards we headed back to the cabin, and laid low for the rest of the night. We sat by the lake and took turns with our kids, drinking wine under the stars. It was a wild night, with high winds, which I loved because then I could wear my new thrifted sweater that I got for the trip. I can’t wait for autumn to arrive so I can wear it more frequently!

The next day was our day to go home! Vacation flies by so swiftly. We said goodbye to our lake, with the clearest, calmest water that it had had the entire time we were there. We packed up, headed out, and made our first stop at a nearby small town, Frankfort, which my brother had told us had a beautiful beach. He was so right. We stretched our legs and took in some beauty before we had to get in the car for the long haul home. We then detoured across the fingertips of Michigan to Hartwick Pines, a state forest. I went there once when I was a kid and loved it, being surrounded by the old growth woods. There is something about trees and me. I love to stand silently in a wood, with tall pines and trees all around. The woods speak to my soul. I loved it there. I want to go back one day again, and spend a little bit more time there. Billy had to pull me away from the large windows, there were just so many birds!!! Evening Grosbeaks, Red-Breasted Grosbeaks, Hummingbirds everywhere. I could have sat there for hours. The visit newly invigorated our desire to start visiting as many National Parks as we can (a desire that is also being fueled right now by the book I am reading, Dear Bob and Sue).

All in all, it was a pretty great trip. I can’t wait to see what next summer ‘s adventures up north brings!

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading

It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date

Another busy week. I am ready for a slowdown! It always seems like it takes a week to recover from vacation, doesn’t it? Lol. Today we had my niece’s birthday party, and it was a great day – lots of fun outdoors, plus delicious cupcakes. It was a good way to spend a Sunday!

 

Read Last Week:

hawkweed prophecy

I only managed to finish this book last week. I really loved it!

Reading This Week:

The Hawkweed Legacy – the sequel to Prophecy. So far it is just as good! It is a review book for Lake Union.

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark – It finally came in! Whoohoo! Now, to see if I can actually make it through it. It might scare the crap out of me. Lol.

Watching:

Red Oaks, Insatiable, Sharp Objects (addictive and mesmerizing!!), Stay Here

 

How about you all? How is it going for you?