Is it cold where you are? Where I am, Old Man Winter is breathing down hard on us. Tomorrow we are supposed to plunge down to negative forty, with the wind chill, and you can already feel that polar air sneaking in and taking over. This arctic freeze is supposed to stick around for three days, so we have been battening down the hatches to get ready, stocking up on tea, coffee, macaroni and cheese, getting out all of our warmest, wooliest clothes and blankets, and putting flannel sheets on! As I write this, the wind is whipping up a frenzy around the house, and I have a cup of tea steaming next to me. I am feeling pretty cozy and well insulated for now.
I think there are few schools of thought for books to read when it is cold. The first camp of people just read what they feel like, free spirits. Another group reads warm weather books, set in tropical settings, beaches and islands and sunshine. Then there are people like me, who like their reading material to match the weather. I am very seasonal, and that includes what I read. And of course, I have a few suggestions.
Visit icy, snow covered Russia..
or the pioneering days of the US.
Read a scary book, a mysterious thriller, or a short little classic with a crazy ending,
or drift like snow into fantasy worlds.
So grab a mug of your favorite soul warming drink, a cozy blanket, and get reading!
Even if it isn’t cold where you are, maybe you are in the mood for a snowy setting?
It’s Monday! What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date
Hey all! I hope you have all had a great week! Ours was just a basic week lol. We did start the week with a Full Moon Family Dinner with my brother, sister-in-law, and niece, which was a lot of fun! The kids played, there was food and drink and conversation – not a bad way to spend a wintry night. -And we have many more wintry nights on the way! Winter took its time getting to my part of Michigan, but this week it is going to hit us like a hammer! Snow last night, another 5-7 inches expected Monday, then the artic polar vortex swoops in giving us awesome temperatures like -40. I am sure the boy and I will be spending much of our time huddled inside against the weather. I went to the library to stock up on books for the week, and have been planning different things for us to do indoors – it will be a long time in the house for us if we get those temps. Good thing we all like to read!
Read Last Week:
Two very different books but I loved them both. The Ash Family was crazy and intense and I didn’t want to put it down. The Wood was amazing as well, in the way that all of John Lewis-Stempel’s books are.
Reading This Week:
Apparently my reading this week is taking me to snowy cold Russia. Perfect for the weather we are going to have this week! I’m not sure I am emotionally ready for the tween book The Wolf Wilder – I usually don’t read books with animals the main focus because I sob if any of them are injured or die. I’ll let you know how I do, if this is a trigger for you too!
My first introduction to the hills and dales and woods of England had to be Winnie the Pooh and his gang of friends. I read books, listened to records, watched the show, as they cavorted around the 100 Acre Woods, getting into scrapes, helping each other out, teaching me about friendship. I soaked it up, every bit, like Pooh and his precious honey.
Later, my mom gave me a set of James Herriot books one Christmas. This was probably the time I fell in love with the natural world of England. I read this series cover to cover, and although I did not always understand everything that was happening as I was kind of young still, I knew that there was something special happening. My suburban eyes were opened to another time, another world. a completely different way of life, that of a large animal country vet. I always loved animals, and these books made me laugh, but they also made me cry. Herriot’s love for his Yorkshire Dales made me love them too. These became books that I reread still to this day. Incidentally, my grandfather was born almost exactly to the day, one year before James Herriot, in the very same town of Sunderland, England. I like to think about them possibly being strolled about on the same sidewalks and into the same shops.
Later, I found Watership Down, not quite a book about the English countryside or woods, but nevertheless, these rabbits braved their way across many a hill and forest until they reached Watership Down. And is still my very favorite book today.
Somewhere in all this, I gave my heart to British nature writing – something I didn’t even realize I was completely avid about until a year or so ago, when I stumbled upon Meadowland by John Lewis-Stempel. His poetic observations captured my imaginings, and my love of nature. Like Herriot, his love of his homeland and surroundings is quite evident in his descriptions, the beautiful imagery and words. Stempel describes himself in The Wood as a country writer, writing what he says he knows best. In Meadowland, the Private Life of an English Field, Stempel shares his field study in diary form of the life and death happenings that occur there, the flora, the fauna- the wildflowers, the foxes who seem to recognize him from his rambles, the hedgehogs and birds, to the smallest little insects.
Since then I have read The Glorious Life of the Oak, which is about exactly what you would think, the Oak, its significance to England’s history, folklore and poetry. I learned more than I thought I could ever learn about the Oak tree, which is quite alright, as our family holds acorns and oaks symbolically, as symbols of hope and strength. This Christmas, my husband gifted me The Wood: The Life and Times of Cockshutt Wood, and I have been savoring it, reading it slowly, but still I am almost done with this foray into an English wood.
As a nature lover, I was stunned to learn that the new edition of the Oxford Junior Dictionary decided to drop about forty words, all pertaining to nature. They deemed these words not essential, not used enough by children to warrant their place in the dictionary, and were replaced by tech words like blog, cut and paste, voicemail. The list of lost words included so many of my favorites things! Dandelion, acorn, bluebell, fern, magpie, otter, willow- all gone from the dictionary, but hopefully not from the minds of the people who use it. Author Robert MacFarlane and illustrator Jackie Morris have created their own book, a place for these words to live on, called The Lost Words. This book is amazingly beautiful, with gorgeous full page artwork illustrations, and poems designed to capture the readers mind and imagination, to keep the words and what they represent alive. It is one of my favorite books, and I love getting it out and looking through it with my son.
I imagine I will keep this up, reading more of Lewis-Stempel and MacFarlane and whoever else I run into on the way. They are amazing tributes to our natural world and inspirational, encouraging me in their way to get outside sometimes and enjoy the wonders of nature, away from my phone and my computer and television. To look and listen and watch and be a part of that world too. And maybe one day I’ll even get to England!
So – I finally think that everyone in this house is over their colds, including me. I got laid low last week by something, although I am thinking it was a bad allergic reaction to some down pillows we had bought for the living room. I had no idea that they were down when I bought them, I wouldn’t have for a few reasons, one being I am pretty allergic. By Thursday-Friday I was feeling much better, once I got rid of those and got some rest. I am still not sure which it was but whatever – I’m better! We spent the snowy (1st snow of the year!!), cold weekend working on our projects for the Kid’s Moon Club that I signed Wyatt up for. It is run by Nicolette at Wilder Child, and every month there are special stories, songs, crafts, and snacks, as well as the info about that moon. I will be honest, it is more work on my end than I had anticipated, but I think I have the hang of it now, and I am looking forward to the rest of the year. Tomorrow we are even having a full moon gathering at our house for Wyatt and his cousin L. We also finally got to exchange gifts with Wyatt’s other cousins T and J, after weeks of one of us or the other being sick. His cousin J. is only 3 months old so we are trying to keep her healthy!
Read Last Week:
John Lewis-Stempel is one of my favorite nature writers, and Billy got me this for Christmas. I am taking my time and savoring it, so I am not quite done yet.
Last summer, our family made the decision to reduce our plastic use. It has been a slow transition, but one we work at and think about every time we make a purchase. The one change that has been the hardest for me is finding that perfect shampoo bar! I made the switch to bar soap for the rest of me fairly easily – I have found a few companies that I really like. But the shampoo bar is elusive. There are some I have liked, but none have been quite perfect.
I have thick, wavy hair, that has a tendency to frizz big time in humidity (yay for Michigan summers!) I am looking for something that will not leave my hair feeling like I haven’t rinsed it well enough, and that helps control my hair’s tendency to become a giant poufball. I am also pretty much a wash and go woman – I don’t spend a lot of time styling my hair (I’m not very good at it), and I don’t wear makeup unless it’s a special occasion. So, the shampoo I use has to do a good job because I really rely on it to help control my mane. So, hence my search.
The first one I tried was Terra Mia Organics Raw Goat Milk Lime and Coconut bar. One thing I really love about shampoo bars is their longevity! This bar lasted me three months, two of them summer months. We also went on vacation after I started using shampoo bars, and it was so much easier to pack my toiletries! This particular shampoo bar was pretty good – it smelled nice, controlled my frizz nicely during summer, but it never felt like I rinsed it out well enough to me. It always felt like there was a bit of a film left even after I rinsed my hair thoroughly. My husband thought this one was ok – he missed the thick lather you get from regular shampoo. I learned recently though that the lather is from sulfates, which are actually not good for you, as they disrupt your personal biome. (This switch has been a whole new journey for me, learning all new things!)
Which brings me to my next bar – the Lush Copperhead shampoo bar. I slipped this bar from the brown, recyclable packaging, and was overcome by the smell of marijuana, weirdly. It wasn’t of course, but yeah, it was weird smell at first. It had a weird smell on arrival, but it soon dissipated and smelled wonderful. For a while, I thought this was my clear winner. Thick lather, rinsed easily, left my hair soft, controlled the frizz, and smelled divine. But then to my sadness, I learned that the lather we loved was from the sulfates. And I figured I am all in now, might as well be all natural too, right? So I moved on – although I am reserving the right to go back to this bar if I can’t find another that works as well.
Yesterday I just received my third attempt. It is the Starry Night bar from Skipping Stones, and so far, I am in love. It is absolutely beautiful, smells amazing, and came in all recyclable packaging. However, I haven’t used it yet. I don’t wash my hair everyday, but tonight is the night. I will update here once I have used it. I have high hopes though, from the reviews! UPDATE: I used this and while the lather is pretty minimal as I expected, my hair feels soft and dried really nicely, with no filmy feeling on it. My husband actually commented on how nice my hair looked!
Terra Mia – Smelled great, controlled the frizz, but didn’t leave my hair feeling like it was totally rinsed out, was sulfate free though however
Lush Copperhead – Smelled great, left my hair soft, controlled the frizz – but had sulfates.
Starry Night – Smells great, no sulfates, not a ton of lather, but did leave my hair soft and wavy. A definite keeper!
If you are considering the switch, I say go for it! Keep those plastic bottles out of our landfills and oceans! You also end up saving money, as these bars last a long time if you treat them right, by storing them on a soap dish that allows for drainage, or out of the spray of water. I made the switch and have been happy despite my search for “the one”.
I spent the week getting us caught up and put back to normal. I’ve almost gotten us back into our normal groove! I did catch a cold after dodging bullets for months, but I think that is typical after the holidays – we are all so run down and then being around so many people celebrating, it is bound to happen. I’ve also had a few nice brunches with family the past few days – it has been nice to catch up and actually talk! This week ahead is a busy one – a doctor’s appointment for the boy ( a check up with one of his specialists), a belated gift exchange with family, and then hopefully going to the zoo’s Wild Winter on Saturday. I’m not sure what that is but it sounds fun!
Read Last Week:
The Best of Us by Robyn Carr – I love the books in this series, and this one was perfect for dreaming of springtime and forgetting about the gray winter skies. Plus – I have a Giveaway happening right now for this book! Check out my review for details!
Snow in Love – If The Best of Us made me dream of springtime, then this one made me feel all winter cozy. A quick little read for the weekend.
Reading This Week:
This was another gift from my husband for Christmas! I love this author so much. His nature writing is phenomenal and I can’t wait to dive into this one. I love that this one is written in diary format, like his book Meadowlands, that I absolutely adored.
I’m also waiting on a billion books from the library! I am sure one or two or all will show up soon. Lol.
We binged on A Series of Unfortunate Events, so sad it is all over!! We also started You, which is so creepy good! And then last night we started watching the new season of The Ranch, which I love because Sam Elliot and his mustache are in it. Love that actor. It’s also a pretty good show! We finished up Agatha Raisin for the moment, we are all caught up and have to wait for the next episode. We’ve been watching a lot of tv lately!
What about you all? What is going on in your world?
Dr. Leigh Culver loves practicing medicine in Timberlake, Colorado. It is a much-needed change of pace from her stressful life in Chicago. The only drawback is she misses her aunt Helen, the woman who raised her. But it’s time that Leigh has her independence, and she hopes the beauty of the Colorado wilderness will entice her aunt to visit often.
Helen Culver is an independent woman who lovingly raised her sister’s orphaned child. Now, with Leigh grown, it’s time for her to live life for herself. The retired teacher has become a successful mystery writer who loves to travel and intends to never experience winter again.
When Helen visits Leigh, she is surprised to find her niece still needs her, especially when it comes to sorting out her love life. But the biggest surprise comes when Leigh takes Helen out to Sullivan’s Crossing and Helen finds herself falling for the place and one special person. Helen and Leigh will each have to decide if they can open themselves up to love neither expected to find and seize the opportunity to live their best lives.
I always love when my reading takes me to the world of Sullivan’s Crossing, in Timberlake, Colorado. There is just something so real about these characters, and I have enjoyed reading about their challenges and triumphs in the previous novels. This installment was no different, I finished it in one day, a record for me these days!
Leigh Culver has settled into the community of Timberlake comfortably, healing their hurts in her clinic, sharing stories and hellos in the pubs and restaurants, slowly making friends and inroads into this friendly community. Her life seems to be just how she wants it, with the exception of missing her beloved aunt, who raised her. When a white-faced Rob Shandon, owner of the town pub, comes in one evening with his injured son, little does she know that her world is about to change in a big way. After stitching up Rob’s son’s hand, she finds she has a new patient, Rob himself, who almost faints at the sight of the blood. Leigh capably calms him down by massaging his head, something she does for patients who need some help slowing down, and boom – fireworks for Rob, immediately. Their quick friendship turns into a relationship even quicker. Spring has definitely sprung in Colorado, and love is in the air for everyone.
With spring in full bloom, Leigh’s aunt Helen comes for a visit. Helen is a popular mystery writer, and spends her time visiting different friends spread out through the U.S., avoiding midwestern winters like the plague. Helen is planning on spending much of her time with Leigh, but finds herself drawn to the front porch and kitchen table and eventually bedroom, of someone special herself.
But like Shakespeare said, the course of true love never did run smooth, as many of the couples in this book go through their share of hurdles. From Finn’s story with his girlfriend Maia, to Leigh and Rob, to Helen and her new love, all must find their way and their path to that true happiness.
I loved Leigh’s story with Rob, although, I do have to say I have to give it to Rob in this book. Leigh was a little difficult at times, and a little selfish, and I felt Rob’s character remained strong and steadfast and loyal, qualities that are also reflected in his son Finn. I loved the Shandon family, I have to say, in this book.
All in all, this was a great read from start to finish, and one to shake off those winter blues!
Giveaway! For a chance to win a brand new hardcover The Best of Us, just leave a comment below! I’ll do a drawing next Wednesday, Jan. 16th. Open to U.S. residents only, sorry!
Thank you to Little Bird Publicity for the chance to read and review this book! I was given a review copy in exchange for an honest review.