Book Review:Bleak Harbor

bleak harbor I received this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Goodreads Summary:

Summertime in Bleak Harbor means tourists, overpriced restaurants, and the Dragonfly Festival. One day before the much-awaited and equally chaotic celebration, Danny Peters, the youngest member of the family that founded the town five generations ago, disappears.

When Danny’s mother, Carey, and stepfather, Pete, receive a photo of their brilliant, autistic, and socially withdrawn son tied to a chair, they fear the worst. But there’s also more to the story. Someone is sending them ominous texts and emails filled with information no one else should have. Could the secrets they’ve kept hidden—even from one another—have led to Danny’s abduction?

As pressure from the kidnapper mounts, Carey and Pete must face their own ugly mistakes to find their son before he’s taken from them forever.

My thoughts:  

I was immediately drawn to this book by this cover -so moody, so mysterious. And the name – Bleak Harbor – is a tip off that maybe this coastal town has some secrets that aren’t all sunshine and rainbows. Perfect for that beginning of fall read, where summer is waning and the leaves are just starting to turn, and instead of beach reads, you want something a little darker.

At first, this book seems pretty straight forward – a boy goes missing, and his family is desperate to find him. But then, little by little, all these secrets spill out, there are twists and turns, all woven together so well that the reader never sees them coming. And you never feel like something just came out of left field – it all masterfully falls into place, and the reader is drawn to finish the book as fast as possible, just to see what the heck happens next! And the characters were perfect in that perfectly human way – not without flaws, this was not a glossy magazine type family despite that they are the descendants of the town founders, they had their own past and secrets too.

As a Michigander, I love that Gruley is a Detroit native and that the setting is a small town on the water in southwest Michigan. Everyone loves to find bits and pieces of places and things that they know and are familiar with in a story, and it was neat to see references dropped in to cities I have visited. I especially liked the addition of a Mexican restaurant named Xochilmilco – I am only guessing but perhaps a named for one of the most popular Mexican restaurants in Detroit. I also liked how Gruley wrote Danny. He didn’t stick to a stereotyped version of someone who has autism, and in fact, addresses these stereotypes a few times within the book itself, and challenges the reader to change their perception of what they think autism is. I am not personally very familiar with the diagnosis, so I can’t speak to the accuracy of Gruley’s depiction, but I do like how he writes the character of Danny.

Overall, I loved this book. I found it exciting, and I couldn’t wait to see what would come next. It was chock full of mystery and surprise, and it was exactly the type of book I have been craving.

The Day of the Bear


It is raining today, and I am sitting here drinking my coffee. My little is at preschool after a bit of a tearful drop off this morning. It was hard to leave, when his little face was all screwed up in a sad face, swallowed up by his yellow duck raincoat. But I kissed his cheek and headed to my car, missing him too.

There is something about rain, right? That makes us more sentimental? Or is that just me? This past summer, Wyatt and I got up and were getting ready for our day, eating breakfast and reading books about bears. This kid loves bears. I was sipping my coffee, looking out the clear blue sky, talking and reading with him as he drank his milk and sort of ate his breakfast.  I thought about the beautiful blue sky outside, and how the days was supposed to be mild, only in the 70s. And I thought, it’s a great day for the zoo! I asked Wyatt if he wanted to go see a bear, right now, today, and he of course told me yes, in the way that he has. He doesn’t say yes, or shake his head yes, but he puts his hand up to his head and moves his hand forward, like he is going to shake his head. When he was a baby, and with his gross motor disabililty, we were showing him how to shake his head, by putting our hands gently on him and showing him how to do it. His takeaway was that you use your hand to manually do it. We know what he is saying though. And I want to add, he says the word no, verbally and very clearly…lol.

So, I left him to finish breakfast and began rushing about the house to get our stuff ready for a day at the zoo with a three year old. All the important stuff went into a backpack, I loaded his stroller and him into the car, and off we went, into the wild blue and green day. The weather was perfect, the music was playing, and then..fifteen minutes from the zoo, the sky opened up and it just started pouring down rain. I had thoughts of Noah and his ark as I headed down the highway. It wasn’t supposed to rain! The forecast never said rain. I called my husband and had him check the weather for me – and he reported that there was seriously one lone rain cloud over where the area I was. And the zoo. He also told me that he thought it would blow over quickly. I decided to keep going. We had decided we were going to see a bear, and we were going to see those bears, rain be damned!

I arrive to a mostly empty zoo, most sane people staying in out of the rain I guess. I headed in to the gift shop and bought a poncho for Wyatt and an umbrella for me. Neither worked out for us. The poncho was too big, and came too close to his face for my liking, and I couldn’t manage to push the stroller and hold the umbrella. But still, we were not giving in. I put the hood up on the stroller to keep him as dry as I could, tucked the poncho around his legs, and kept going, getting wetter and wetter with each step.

And of course, zoos are designed with the Big Attraction animals at the back, to make people walk through the whole thing. I don’t know if that is purposeful, but it seems like it to me. And the Detroit Zoo has an extraordinarily long walk into the actual zoo. So we basically had to walk all the way to the back of the zoo. We took random breaks under trees (it wasn’t storming, just downpouring) and stopped to look at other animals, if there was a shelter for us. But for the most part, we persevered. Wyatt thought it was a blast, honestly. I was soaking wet, and he was wet but we made it to the bears.

And it was awesome. We were the only ones there, just standing there in the rain, looking at the bears. One of the bears was sleeping in the sheltering cave feature, but the other was hanging out in the rain. He had been relaxing, maybe enjoying the cool rain for a bit, and when we arrived, he looked up at us. And there we were, the three of us, in a downpour, all looking at each other. It was a moment that I feel I will remember forever. Wyatt and I looked at each other, smiling, then back at the bear, who kept his steady brown gaze on us. Maybe he thought we were nuts. Maybe he wanted us to go away, as he had been enjoying the solitude, although we were not talking or making any noise. It was sort of..pure. Powerful. It was so quiet, just the sound of the rain pattering away on the umbrella and the trees. There was no attempt to grab a photo, especially with my arms full of preschooler and an umbrella. Nothing to distract from the moment.

We stood there a little bit, not too long, but long enough. Eventually Wyatt went back into his stroller, all tucked up, eating his goldfish which somehow he could eat without them getting soggy, and we slogged back to the car. But it felt different now. At least for me. I felt more carefree and less upset about the rain. I guess though once you are wet enough, who cares? I wonder if the morning would have been the same had I had our raincoats. I kind of think it wouldn’t have been.

Now when it rains, I think about the bear, and standing in the rain with my son, all alone, looking at a bear who was looking back at us.

The Sunday Post/It’s Monday! What Are You Reading?

Check out the The Caffeinated Book Review for the Sunday Post
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date
Autumn has arrived – at least for this weekend. It is cool and rainy and windy – I love it. This is my kind of weather. I got to pull out my jeans and long sleeve shirts! Not boots yet, but soon. I am thinking about soup and Halloween and coffee drinks and cider, and scary books too. This is my absolute favorite time of the year!
It was a week filled with reorienting ourselves to a schedule, with back to school and all that. This weekend was quiet. We went for a family walk in the woods, to a friend’s house for dinner, and then today (Sunday) Billy ran his first 10k while Wyatt and I cheered him across the finish line! So proud of him for all his hard work.
Read Last Week:


Last week I was waiting on so many books at the library – and of course, most of them came in all at once. So I finished up Bleak Harbor (so good!) and started Where the Fire Falls. I am enjoying this read so far – I love that it takes place in Yosemite in the 20s!

Reading This Week:

crooked house


I’m going to finish up Where the Fire Falls, and start Crooked House, which was my pick for our book club this month. I am looking forward to it – I have only read a few of Christie’s books but have really loved them. I need to read more!


Anne with an E – I love this show, although it gives me great anxiety for the characters. Lol. We are also watching Land Girls on Netflix, which is really good, and the Great British Bake Off.


How about all of you? What is happening in your part of the world?

Saturday Snapshot




Saturday Snapshot is hosted by West Metro Mommy Reads


It’s September, and today, it feels like fall. Cool, breezy, that hint of autumn in the air. And fall means back to school – even for my little guy! My little sunshine boy went back to preschool this week – I will miss our daily adventures but I know that he is gaining so much from going. Today we retreated to the woods for a little walk, looking for the pileated woodpecker that has been hanging out, listening to our feet crunch through the leaves, and spotting squirrels darting about, hoarding the many acorns and black walnuts that are so plentiful there. It was the perfect start to a morning.


What Wyatt’s Reading: August Wrap Up


Happy Read a Book Day!

It has been a long time since I posted one of these, and I figured today would be a great day to celebrate some of the books Wyatt and I have been reading. We read so many books over the summer! Wyatt loves to read, I have stashes of books for him all over the house for him to pull out and look through. He is so cute, he will riffle through the pages, point to pictures, and say, “Oooh mom, ooh!” My reader’s heart loves that he loves books. These are some of the top winners that we read together in August.

These were a few that we particularly loved last month. Wyatt went everywhere for a while carrying Eric Carle’s Do You Want to Be My Friend, and also really loved Big Bear, Small Mouse and The Little Mouse, the Red Ripe Strawberry, and the Big Hungry Bear. I remember loving Eric Carle as a kid too, it is so neat to see that Wyatt really enjoys him as well. I loved Full Moon Lore and An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth, especially the latter. I think these will all have to be added to our permanent collection! Full Moon Lore just was so informative, and I loved the accompanying pictures, while Extraordinary Ordinary Moth was a wonderful story about finding beauty in the ordinary. I loved it to pieces. We bought Flowers Are Calling while we were on vacation, and that is another really cool book. The illustrations were beautiful, and it was full of interesting facts. I even learned a thing or two – like some flowers have caffeine and bees enjoy it! Being a coffee addict myself, I totally get it bees!

We have already kicked off September with quite a few reads, and in the past two days 9 of our holds have come in at the library, so we will be reading a whole lot more.

Any picture books on here that you have read, either with a child or as a child? What were some of your childhood favorites?

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 have been busy as bees this week, soaking up the last bit of summer freedom before school starts. I was fortunate enough to get to see Wicked last Tuesday, which was awesome; I took my little dude to Greenfield Village on Friday, where we walked around a bit and rode the carousel, then later Friday night, date with the hubby; Saturday, we went to Belle Isle, and today we took a mini road trip to Marshall, MI, home to “the house with a clock in its walls”, a book by John Bellairs. (which will also soon be a movie!) We toured the Honolulu House Museum while in Marshall. It was cool but a bummer that the owners in the Victorian era painted over all the tropical murals and changed the decor. It’s been fun though.
Read Last Week:
hazel wood   bleak harbor
The Hazel Wood – I loved this book. I am not usually a fairy tale reader – not of actual fairy tales, or retellings, or anything of the like. However, I adored this one. So good.
Bleak Harbor – From NetGalley. So far I am enjoying it. I love that the author is a Detroit native, and this book actually takes place on Michigan’s west coast, or “westside” as we call it. It mentions towns that I have been to, New Buffalo, Saugatuck, and I always love that.
Reading This Week:
It’s September! I have a whole new crop of book club books to read, including the one I picked for our book club. I have library holds on them all, and am first in line for them all, so I will read whichever one gets to me first!



Crooked House is my pick for book club. I am pretty excited to be reading it. Braiding Sweetgrass and Feral are both for two outdoorsy type book clubs I am in online.  I have to admit, I usually just read the books but don’t participate in the discussions, although I always intend to. If they are really good reads, I have my husband read them too, and then we talk about them. And then Where the Fire Falls – I am so obsessed with National Parks right now, and I read the first one in this series and enjoyed it, so I thought why not? I am not a big reader of Christian fiction but it seemed just like sort of the book last time, and it was fine. I don’t like feeling preached at by books, and I didn’t feel that way at all. So, we will see which book arrives first!


Anne with an E (love it!), and that is about it. We are kind of in between tv shows right now! I am open to suggestions. We finished Sharp Objects and it was phenomenal. Like I could go back and watch it again, it was so good. I do need to reread the book as well.


So, what has been going on in your bit of the world? Any last minute summer things, checking things off the bucket list?  Avoiding heat, rain, fire? Hopefully everyone is staying safe!


Also, for some reason this post always gets all squishy! I don’t know why, I am sort of new to WordPress. Any thoughts?