Book Review: Where the Forest Meets the Stars

Amazon Summary:

After the loss of her mother and her own battle with breast cancer, Joanna Teale returns to her graduate research on nesting birds in rural Illinois, determined to prove that her recent hardships have not broken her. She throws herself into her work from dusk to dawn, until her solitary routine is disrupted by the appearance of a mysterious child who shows up at her cabin barefoot and covered in bruises.

The girl calls herself Ursa, and she claims to have been sent from the stars to witness five miracles. With concerns about the child’s home situation, Jo reluctantly agrees to let her stay—just until she learns more about Ursa’s past.

Jo enlists the help of her reclusive neighbor, Gabriel Nash, to solve the mystery of the charming child. But the more time they spend together, the more questions they have. How does a young girl not only read but understand Shakespeare? Why do good things keep happening in her presence? And why aren’t Jo and Gabe checking the missing children’s website anymore?

Though the three have formed an incredible bond, they know difficult choices must be made. As the summer nears an end and Ursa gets closer to her fifth miracle, her dangerous past closes in. When it finally catches up to them, all of their painful secrets will be forced into the open, and their fates will be left to the stars.

My Thoughts:

This book was AMAZING! I loved it so much. I thought this book was so original, with very well developed characters that I could perfectly imagine.


Jo Teale is an orinthologist, studying the nests of Indigo Buntings, and the impact of habitat loss on their population. The once prevalent birds have dropped in numbers in recent years due to habitat loss, and Jo is studying the survival rates of nests alongside roads compared to more remote and wild locations. One night after returning home, a girl in dirty pajamas shows up out of nowhere, and tells Jo that she is an alien. Jo enlists the help of the local Egg Man, Gabe, to help her find where the girl came from, and the two end up playing family with Ursa, as she calls herself, like the great bear in the sky.


I loved the intricacies and complexities in this book – where did Ursa come from, really? Could she really be from the stars? What should Jo and Gabe do? Ursa is brilliant and sharp and doesn’t miss a beat. The three actually start to become a real family, one that they have chosen for themselves. But how can it last? They need to find out the truth about Ursa sooner than later, as every day is a day that could possibly get them into more trouble, and Ursa’s sticking to her story that she is from an alien planet and can’t leave until she witnesses five miracles.


While Jo is recovering from her own history, Gabe has his secrets as well, that slowly he reveals to Jo, little by little. Secrets that have shaped his entire life. Jo and Gabe find solace in each other, and they become more than they were before on their own. Their peace and contented happiness has a deadline though, and they know it, unless steps are taken.


I loved this book, every single bit of it. Fantastic characters, including Jo’s bestie Tabby, who I loved as much as Ursa does. It is a book of moving parts and little bits that all just fit together at the end. I absolutely loved it and highly recommend it!

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

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

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

We have had a great week and weekend. The weather is perfect and holds just that taste of autumn in the air. We have been spending a lot of time outside, enjoying these late summer days. We hiked about the last two days, in the woods and along the water. It’s been a lot of fun.

Read Last Week:

Read this and feel pretty meh about it. I enjoyed this first one a lot more.

Reading This Week:

I am not sure which one of these I am going to read. I can’t decide what I am more in the mood for! I will probably start them both then see which book wins. Lol.

Posted Last Week:

What Wyatt’s Reading: August

Book Review: Forgotten Bones

Watching:

Not too much right now. Billy and I are watching iZombie and are about to start either Stranger Things or Mindhunter. Wyatt and I are watching Molly of Denali, a new PBS cartoon that is really good! There are not that many episodes but we just keep rewatching. It is the first cartoon that has featured Native Alaskans as main characters. I love it as much as Wyatt!

So what about you all? What is going on in your neighborhood?

Book Review: Forgotten Bones

Goodreads Summary:

When small-town police officers discover the grave of a young boy, they’re quick to pin the crime on a convicted felon who lives nearby. But when it comes to murder, Officer Susan Marlan never trusts a simple explanation, so she’s just getting started.

Meanwhile, college professor Eric Evans hallucinates a young boy in overalls: a symptom of his schizophrenia—or so he thinks. But when more bodies turn up, Eric has more visions, and they mirror details of the murder case. As the investigation continues, the police stick with their original conclusion, but Susan’s instincts tell her something is off. The higher-ups keep stonewalling her, and the FBI’s closing in.

Desperate for answers, Susan goes rogue and turns to Eric for help. Together they take an unorthodox approach to the case as the evidence keeps getting stranger. With Eric’s hallucinations intensifying and the body count rising, can the pair separate truth from illusion long enough to catch a monster?

My Thoughts:

This book was really good!! When the bones of a young boy are unearthed, the police feel like they already know exactly who committed the murder – which is not super great police work, but in their defense, the body was found near the land of a convicted felon, who had been in jail for his crimes against children. So they thought, slam dunk. Officer Susan Harlan though couldn’t let it rest, just like those bones couldn’t rest.

Eric is new in town, new to that side of the country even, having relocated after a nasty divorce. Eric also has schizophrenia, a usually well-controlled schizophrenia, but knows that the move and the stress of everything may cause triggers. So when he starts to have wild, vivid hallucinations, he chalks it up to that – although, as things begin to change in the investigation, so do his hallucinations. There was one particularly terrifying one that made me wonder if I was going to be able to sleep that night!

Vivian Barz has a note at the end of her book about how she has a friend who has schizophrenia, who had once stated that she wanted to read a book that had a schizophrenic who was not the bad guy. So Barz wrote that book for her (I don’t consider this to be ruining anything, you know right off the bat it can’t be Eric who is the bad guy as he was never even in that state). I really loved this perspective! How many times have we seen schizophrenia be the reason in a book that someone commits a crime? Compare that to the amount of times we have seen someone who has schizophrenia not be the criminal and that is a very very wide gap. I thought this was such a great new portrayal of that particular mental illness, to show another side that we don’t see in media, one where a person has their schizophrenia managed and can hold a job, have a life, etc.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. The mystery was intriguing, scary and pulled me along to the end very willingly. If you are looking for a thriller, try this one!

Thank you to NetGalley for the chance to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

What Wyatt’s Reading – August

We have been reading like crazy over here! I usually do this post at the end of the month or I try to, but we have been reading so much that I posted early. These are our favorites so far this month… some his, some mine lol.

I am Not a Skunk is a super adorable book about a cat that was mistaken for a skunk – when the family realized it really was a cat, they gave him a home! We were graciously gifted this book by author Ellen Pilch, and Wyatt loves it! The cat in the book looks so much like our Maggie cat!

We read two Mermaid books too – Wyatt loved the story of Pearl, a mermaid whose job it was to raise the moon, and I loved Tallulah, and her petoskey stone. (plus, we are Michiganders!)

I have read Over in a River over and over and over…this was a favorite of Wyatt’s. It had a great map of some of the rivers of the United States and the animals that call those rivers home. Really cool.

Leo Lionni, Kevin Henkes, and Eric Carle are perennial favorites, am I right? I totally love Henkes books and was so excited to share them with Wyatt when he was born. He loves them too, and he is also a fan of Lionni, an author I never really was super drawn to but now see the appeal, thanks to the kiddo. And Eric Carle is just so talented! I do have to say the illustration in this book of the grouchy ladybug saying “Go away” kind of makes me giggle, which is wrong, I know. Something about it though…lol.

Finally our pal Crinkleroot! I love these books to teach Wyatt about nature. This one is a little advanced for him but was a good place to start. And I learned from it too!

Have you read any of these?

My Sunday-Monday Post!

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

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

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

Last week was crazy super busy. Most of it was fun (the dentist appointment not so much), but phew, I am ready for a break. I think our family needs a slow down week this week!

Read Last Week:

I am working on my NetGalley reviews for August, slowly trying to tick them off. Knocked these two off last week! Both were really good, although pretty different!

Reading This Week:

I’m taking a little time off from my NetGalley list this week though – I had been wanting to read the second in this series for a very long time and I finally remembered that fact when I went to the library the other day. Lol.

Posted Last Week:

Book Review: The Secret to Happiness

Summertime Snippets #2

So what is going on in your life right now?

Summertime Snippets #2

Summer is starting to wind down into fall, and I see the abundance of the summer all around, from the huge overgrown gardens to the happy, fat animals running around. I also feel like we have had a very full summer too – full of fun and family and good times. Not all of course, but mostly. I am starting to think about school starting in just a few weeks, and our family rhythm changing, and I am looking forward to these new autumn adventures. But, it is still summer right now, and we are going to continue to make the most of it while we can!

We are still loving our breakfasts outside – although I had to start putting my coffee in a tray to stop the katydids from leaping in to their deaths! We have been reading a lot (picture book post coming up next week!), and watching the world go by from our front lawn. We also sit out here in the evening, and wait for Billy to come home. I love that time of day too – our whole neighborhood is out in the front yards, kids playing, parents sitting out, talking to each other. I love a sense of community!

We went to my little niece’s birthday party – a dinosaur rainbow party, which was super fun. The kids had a great time!

In these last few weeks we have picked peaches, made art together, explored and found new cool places..

We had a date night bike ride, and set out little happy boats out for a sail…

Saw some bugs and insects and enjoyed our new favorite snack of Tillamook vanilla and these yummy flavored maple syrups.

Our August has been full of little moments – how has your month been going? I’d love to hear!

And if you saw the post right before this, that is now deleted, I published my rough draft and I hadn’t meant to! Lol.

Book Review: The Secret to Happiness

Goodreads Summary:

Danniella is running from her past, so when she arrives at the beautiful seaside resort of Whitsborough Bay, the last thing on her mind is making friends. After all, they might find out her secrets… Alison is fun, caring and doesn’t take herself too seriously. But beneath the front, she is a lost soul, stuck in a terrible relationship, with body confidence issues and no family to support her. All she really needs is a friend. Karen’s romance has taken a back seat to her fitness business. But she doesn’t want to give up on love quite yet. If only those mysterious texts would stop coming through… When the women meet at their local bootcamp, a deep friendship blossoms. And soon they realise that the secret to happiness is where they least expected to find it… 

My Thoughts:

The Secret to Happiness. Sounds like a self-help book, that will reveal all the ways in which you can find your way to being, well, happy. This book is not a self-help book, but is a lovely story of friendship, acceptance, and renewal. The author’s blurb states that Jessica Redland writes uplifting women’s fiction, and that is exactly what this is, uplifting.

This book was a great read! It focuses on the lives of three very different women, Danniella, Alison, and Karen. Danniella is a woman on the run from something, hiding her secrets, trying not to get to close to anyone. Alison is open and honest, with everyone but maybe herself. And Karen is a straight forward fitness trainer. The lives of these women collide in the small town of Whitsbourough Bay, in a bootcamp class. All of these women are dealing with something in their lives, and on their own, without a “tribe” for support. As their problems mount and finally all reach a breaking point, they turn to each other for friendship and support, and find their way out of their problems together. And maybe just maybe they have found the secret to happiness as well.

I loved reading about these women, the way they rallied together and trusted one another with some of the hardest issues in their lives. We all just need those friends that we can turn to and spill all to you – I know that I would be lost without my friends.

This was the first book I have read by this author, and I will be searching out her other books very soon! Thank you to NetGalley and Boldwood Books for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

My Sunday-Monday Post

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

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

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

It was a pretty good week last week! Lots of good things happening all around me, lots of outside time, lots of reading and playing. We are just trying to soak up these last weeks of summer! Saturday we took Wyatt to his first music group, and he had a blast. He is so darn musical! It was our first time attending the group and he picked up a few of the sounds really quickly – he was even the only kid there who was singing at all. Lol. Of course, he also doesn’t like to stay in the circle and wants to scoot around and explore so that happens too, but overall it was a really fun experience and we are looking forward to the rest of the sessions this month! Billy and I also had a wee little date night – this time we went out to the nearby woods and took a tiny hike then joined in on the bonfire and interpreter led discussion on Michigan’s woodpeckers. I came home from Texas knowing that Billy and I need more time together without kiddo sometimes, and I put some plans into action! This week coming up we have are going to Greenfield Village for a members only bike night, where we get to ride our bikes around the village, and then for dinner on Saturday with some friends we haven’t seen in a long time!

Read Last Week:

I’m actually a bit behind on What the Wind Knows – I am trying to finish and review a bunch of books from my NetGalley list for their Reviewathon, and unfortunately my book club book got lost in there!

Reading This Week:

Another from my NetGalley shelf that I hope to read and review along with my book club book.

Posted Last Week:

Taking Time

Book Review: The Little Bookshop on the Seine

Book Review: Relative Fortunes

Watching:

We have settled right back into Criminal Minds lol. Also, we watched two seasons of This Farming Life on Britbox, which was really well done! Billy and I found ourselves having a discussion about bulls the other day and we had to laugh, since bulls are not exactly a part of our lives! It was just funny. Great show though.

Book Review: Relative Fortunes by Marlowe Benn

Publisher Summary:

In 1920s New York, the price of a woman’s independence can be exorbitant—even fatal.

In 1924 Manhattan, women’s suffrage is old news. For sophisticated booklover Julia Kydd, life’s too short for politics. With her cropped hair and penchant for independent living, Julia wants only to launch her own new private press. But as a woman, Julia must fight for what’s hers—including the inheritance her estranged half brother, Philip, has challenged, putting her aspirations in jeopardy.

When her friend’s sister, Naomi Rankin, dies suddenly of an apparent suicide, Julia is shocked at the wealthy family’s indifference toward the ardent suffragist’s death. Naomi chose poverty and hardship over a submissive marriage and a husband’s control of her money. Now, her death suggests the struggle was more than she could bear.

Julia, however, is skeptical. Doubtful of her suspicions, Philip proposes a glib wager: if Julia can prove Naomi was in fact murdered, he’ll drop his claims to her wealth. Julia soon discovers Naomi’s life was as turbulent and enigmatic as her death. And as she gets closer to the truth, Julia sees there’s much more at stake than her inheritance…

My Thoughts:

This book was the bee’s knees!! It checked a lot of boxes for me, and so much more. I love mysteries, and the 20s, but this book took those ideas to the next level. At first, it seems like a simple murder mystery, where a high society woman who happens to also be clever mixes in attempting to solve it. Julia however is much more than just a clever rich lady looking for a distraction. She is self-possessed, has a lover, independent, intelligent – and currently waiting for her 25th birthday when she can take control of her own inheritance and not depend on her older brother to dole an allowance out to her.

Julia becomes embroiled in the mystery of Naomi Rankin’s death through the admission of her friend Glennis, who is shocked by her sister Naomi’s sudden death, which appears as a suicide. Yet neither woman is buying that. Julia is pulled further into the mystery when Glennis invites her to a private family meeting about Naomi’s passing, and is shocked by how the family is more anxious to sweep it all under the rug without a second look. That family is a piece of work, and negotiating their family politics and relationships was a bit confusing – there were so many! All of them with different motives and personal agendas too, it seems…

As she and her friend dig deeper into what really happened that night to Naomi, Julia is also facing a few challenges herself, most importantly the fact that her brother Phillip has challenged the will, stating that he is entitled to the family fortune, which would leave Julia with nothing. She imagines her own dreams going up in smoke, of being an independent woman, and of continuing on with her own private press of books, Capriole. When Phillip proposes a wager regarding the cause of Naomi’s death, Julia doesn’t hesitate to accept.

Julia is led up and down and all around trying to solve this mystery, and her discoveries shed light on what life really was like for a woman in the 20s, where their financial freedom and sexual freedoms were not necessarily their own, as Julia herself comes to realize. We think of the Roaring Twenties as good times, jazz, dancing until dawn, and drinking, but we forget about the women fighting in the trenches for women’s rights. Sadly, even now, not every state has ratified the Equal Rights Amendment which is a proposed amendment that will guarantee equal rights to every citizen regardless of gender, in regards to divorce, property, employment, and other matters. Still to the day. Almost a hundred years later and the fight still continues. Benn’s novel does a wonderful job of marrying the mystery to the early days of the women’s right movement, and it fit the story perfectly.

I loved this book! I love even more that this book is listed as number one in the Julia Kydd series, meaning there will be more! I can’t wait to read more about Julia and where her journey will take her.

 

Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: The Little Bookshop on the Seine

Publisher Summary:

It’s The Holiday on the Champs-ƒlysées in a great big love letter to Paris, charming old bookstores and happily-ever-afters!

When bookshop owner Sarah Smith is offered the opportunity for a job exchange with her Parisian friend Sophie, saying yes is a no-brainer—after all, what kind of romantic would turn down six months in Paris? Sarah is sure she’s in for the experience of a lifetime—days spent surrounded by literature in a gorgeous bookshop, and the chance to watch the snow fall on the Eiffel Tower. Plus, now she can meet up with her journalist boyfriend, Ridge, when his job takes him around the globe.

But her expectations cool faster than her café au lait soon after she lands in the City of Light—she’s a fish out of water in Paris. The customers are rude, her new coworkers suspicious and her relationship with Ridge has been reduced to a long-distance game of phone tag, leaving Sarah to wonder if he’ll ever put her first over his busy career. As Christmas approaches, Sarah is determined to get the shop—and her life—back in order…and make her dreams of a Parisian happily-ever-after come true.

My Thoughts:

A bookstore, Paris – what more can you ask for? When Sarah Smith gets the call from her friend asking to trade their bookstores for a while, she very much of out character replies yes. Sarah lives life safely, and quaintly, in her small town. She has a slower pace of life, friends that she loves, a bookstore that she adores, and a hot boyfriend to boot. But the siren’s call from the City of Love beckons even to her, and she thinks the opportunity is a dream come true. And best of all, her boyfriend can join her there, as his job as a journalist takes him all over the world . The idea of spending time strolling the streets of Paris with Ridge is almost enough to get her there all by itself, and her romantic nature can’t resist. Heck, I wouldn’t be able to either!

But when she gets there, she finds it is not necessarily the dream come true that she imagined – it is a lot more work and unhappiness that she had expected. She barely sees any of Paris in her early time there, as she works from sun up to sun down, everyday. And Ridge can never seem to find the time to join her as he had promised, which adds to her misery. Here Sarah is, surrounded by the beauty and charm of Paris, close enough to touch but it is still just out of reach!

The bookstore itself sounds amazing, a store that any book lover would love to wander into; historic, lovely, with many rooms and floors of books – it even has a writer in residence and a piano room! It has a wonderful history from decades past,  lending books to readers who can’t afford them. Sarah can appreciate the beauty and the history, although she also begins to feel chained to the place.

Sarah is not a quitter though, and as Christmas approaches, she puts plans into action to turn things around. And you will just have to read to find out if she does!

I enjoyed this sweet little book so much, although at times I was just frustrated as Sarah! I really loved it, and while the book does have some emphasis on the holiday season, it didn’t feel strictly like a Christmas book. If you like books and Paris, you will love this book!

 

Thank you to NetGalley and Harlequin books for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review.