Puddles and Pinecones

Over the weekend the weatherman predicted torrential rain storms, flooding, and then to top it all off, ice. Well, it did rain, a very drizzly cold rain that did do a little flooding, and raised the rivers and creeks a little bit higher. We had plans to stay inside and do fun things there for most of the day and night, but..we couldn’t resist a little splashing in puddles first!

Wyatt wears AFO’s – braces for his feet to help him stand stronger when he is working on walking and standing. We love his braces, they are great tools to help him. But they also make it hard to buy shoes and boots, boots especially, as we can’t really manipulate his foot into one with the stiff braces. But we found that Butler boots have enough give in them that they slide fairly easily right over the braces – so we ordered him a pair of bright cheery yellow boots, his favorite color, and perfect for adding some sunshine to a dreary day. Then it rained and we got our wish to go stomp around in the puddles!

The cutest little stomp and splash ever!

While we are all excited that we found boots that work with his needs, Wyatt is more excited about the fact that he now has gumboots like the character and kids on one of his favorite shows, Scout and the Gumboot Kids! This very morning while we were watching one before school (they are short and perfect for a moment like this!) Wyatt went and got his boots out and started putting them on, just like Scout and the Gumboot Kids. Gumboots are another name for rain boots, or wellies, whatever you want to call them, and this show is adorable, with nature mysteries presented by a felt mouse in his own little cardigan and gumboots. The episodes are short, with a quick mystery that includes clues, and a mindful moment, which I am hoping to incorporate more of into our lives. The talented Jessie Farrell also provides the music and song for these episodes, with lovely lilting tunes that are so catchy that kids don’t even realize they are learning as they are singing along. As a companion to the Scout series, there is also Daisy and the Gumboot Kids, and Daisy is a crafty little mouse full of ideas for nature crafts. We love these shows and I love the inspiration they provide, while teaching Wyatt about all sorts of things – caterpillars and butterflies, space, agates, trees, dinosaurs are some of our favorites!

Not only is this series on television, they are now a series of books published by Firefly Books! We were lucky enough to receive a set of four signed books before Christmas, and now that the holidays are over, we really have time to spend looking through them together and talking about what we read. These books are beautiful, with full page artwork that captures the eye and attention, as page-size photos of the characters that Wyatt loves, solving the mysteries on paper within a book! Each book also contains two pages of field notes that relate to the mystery, mindful moments, and a nature craft. There is so much within the pages to inspire creativity and learning! We have been having a lot of fun with them. We also received a cute little coloring and activity book, a signed CD of Jessie Farrell’s music for the show, and stickers!

Today we spent some time reading through the books a little after school – Wyatt likes to “read” them to me too.

After we read about bird feeders and butterflies, I had a book and craft set up in the other room waiting for us.

We read the book, The Wooden Timekeeper, and talked about conifer trees, pincones, and the rings on trees, and how when you count them you can find the age of the tree. Wyatt really liked playing with the pinecones and petrified wood the best.

I showed him the pictures in the book of the craft, and let him choose whether we made an owl, bear, or mouse. My sweet boy chose to make an owl, my favorite! It was a group effort, with him doing the gluing while I helped out with the placement and cutting. We had a great time reading and making this little owl together! And look how cute!

Scout and the Gumboot Kids and the series, both on television and the books by Firefly Books are such a great resource for kids to learn, and entertaining and cute to boot! (yeah, see what I did there..)

Thanks to Firefly Books for the wonderful gift of the books, CD and extra little fun things!

Book Review: Alone in the Wild

Goodreads Summary:

Every season in Rockton seems to bring a new challenge. At least that’s what Detective Casey Duncan has felt since she decided to call this place home. Between all the secretive residents, the sometimes-hostile settlers outside, and the surrounding wilderness, there’s always something to worry about.

While on a much needed camping vacation with her boyfriend, Sheriff Eric Dalton, Casey hears a baby crying in the woods. The sound leads them to a tragic scene: a woman buried under the snow, murdered, a baby still alive in her arms.

A town that doesn’t let anyone in under the age of eighteen, Rockton must take care of its youngest resident yet while solving another murder and finding out where the baby came from – and whether she’s better off where she is.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Kelley Armstrong again delivers an engaging, tense thriller set in perhaps the most interesting town in all of contemporary crime fiction. 

My Thoughts:

I can’t say enough how much I love these series! I think the whole concept is brilliant, and in every book, Armstrong keeps growing this idea, adding in more layers and considerations. I love the characters, the setting, the overall idea and plot arcs – and this book was no exception.

This book begins with finding a baby in the snow, wailing away tucked in the arms of a murdered woman. A horrifying situation anywhere you go, but in the middle of the Yukon it takes on a whole new meaning, a place with little to no services other than what you can do for your own survival outside of your chosen town or community. Because that is the other big thing that happens in this book; we finally get to visit all the neighbors, and you find that Rockton isn’t really as completely isolated as one might think. There are a lot of people roaming about that wilderness, despite all the isolation.

Casey of course knows that she needs to find where this baby comes from, and she and Dalton embark on many excursions into the wild, visiting the few neighboring villages and encampments. I will say, that was the only kind of slow part in this book, all the repetitiveness of them going out again and slogging through the snow and woods. It made sense, but I guess I felt I was too much a part of that part of the journey. But we meet so many new characters – in fact in this book, we see far less of the Rockton residents as Casey and Dalton trek all over the Yukon practically solving the mystery behind the baby. The story that unfolds is fascinating and keeps you guessing. We also learn a few new things about Casey, and about Casey and Dalton as a couple in this book, as we watch them evolve.

I loved this book and I am really looking forward to the next one already!!

Thank you to NetGalley for the advance copy in return for an honest review!

My Favorite Reads of 2019

Hey all! I can’t believe it is this time of the year already! Wowzer. I hope that you all had a wonderful holiday or at least a few great days in December.

I feel like I read some pretty great books this year! I don’t keep up on my Goodreads very well – I get about halfway through the year and forget, so I can’t give stats which is a bummer, because I love everyone’s stats posts. Goals for next year! I know that I read a lot of nature books, thrillers, some magical realism, cozy mysteries, and some romances. And probably some other things too! I also participated in Paris in July which was so fun, and also Nonfiction November, which was pretty spectacular. I feel like I have a great idea of what to expect of them both next year and I am looking forward to them both again.

As I look back, some books I just really liked. My list is sort of based on just what I actually really loved, whether it was a bestseller or not – just a book that I really couldn’t stop reading and wanted more of when I was done. So, that being said, here they are!

I can’t believe this is the first time I had ever read Anne. Now I love her to pieces. And The Wolf Wilder was so so good. If you are going to read it, read it when it is cold – and if you live somewhere warm, just turn that air conditioning way down! Lol.

My love for these two books is real. The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating touched my soul, and The Wood I read first, and then read aloud to Billy and Wyatt over the course of this year, that is how much I loved it. John Lewis-Stempel is one of my very favorite authors to read and I am slowly making my way through his books.

I am pretty sure this is the first time I have had two graphic novels on my list! I absolutely adored Pumpkinheads, but what can you expect from Rainbow Rowell, but greatness, in my opinion. And Brazen – I picked this up on a whim at the library then read it cover to cover without stopping during Wyatt’s nap. I never reviewed it properly but it was seriously amazing.

These are three new to me authors – and I believe Luanne G. Smith and Glendy Vanderah are new authors in general! I loved each of these books for different reasons, but I can’t wait to read more by all of them. Read my review of The Vine Witch here, and Where the Forest Meets the Stars here. And hey I did review Brazen! A mini-one in the same post as Leaving Time!

Hands down my favorite book of the entire year. I am always a little skeptical of big best sellers for some reason, but when Gulfside Musings posted that she loved it, I gave it a shot. And I am so glad that I did. It was everything – nature and mystery and emotional. It was spectacular and I recommended it to everyone I know.

Quick Reviews on Some Holiday Reads

A Holiday by Gaslight: I am an helpless romantic, I can’t help it. And this book is so sweet and lovely. I started loving these historical Christmas romances when I was in high school and gravitate back to them every year. There is something comforting within their pages, all happiness and joy. This one was no different. A country house, two people finding love at the holidays – and I loved these two characters. I love the juxtaposition between tradition and modernism in this story – with Ned trying to aspire to old traditions, thinking he needs to act a certain way to fit in to a society that he doesn’t really belong to despite being desperately rich; Sophie who has some pretty modern ideas, is smart, an avid reader, and wants to be her own person, despite it being the Victorian era. A heartwarming, quick Christmas read!

Half-Spent Was the Night: Oo I loved this VERY quick little read. Perfect for those stolen minutes, this 112 page book sure packs a lot in! I loved The Witches of New York so it was neat to join them at Yuletide. If you like these characters and their stories this is a must read!

The Afterlife of Holly Chase: This YA book was such a fun and unique read!! I loved it. Holly Chase is a failed Scrooge – and a dead one. Her afterlife is now spent working for Project Scrooge, a company that spends the entire year for their big event, which is to rehabilitate that year’s Scrooge, Dickens style, complete with real ghosts. I loved the framework of this company, how it uses A Christmas Carol as a blueprint for their work, finding the Fezziwig, the Belle, etc. That every character has their real name, and their Dickens name. It was just really well done and fun to read.

Book Review Shorty: Wrapped Up For Christmas

Goodreads Summary:

Having lost her boyfriend, job, and apartment all in the space of a week, Angie has no choice but to leave California and return to her family in New England.

Determined not to let life weigh her down, Angie finds work at the local mall where she worked as a teenager. After an embarrassing run-in with a handsome stranger, Nick, she’s convinced her luck is about to change.

But Nick has secrets of his own… and as the first flakes of snow begin to fall, Angie can’t help but wonder if she’ll ever find love.

My Thoughts:

This book was such a perfect little holiday read, full of the Christmas spirit and happiness and joy. It is very sweet and tidy but the characters are adorable and you just are rooting for them the entire book.

Angie has a big heart, and a huge love of Christmas. She is back home after her life out in California has taken a wrong turn, both in love and career, so she is at loose ends. Despite these setbacks, she dives into Christmas with no reservations, and spreads her Christmas joy to everyone she meets, or at least tries.

Nick is also a case of once burned twice shy in the romance department. He is a sweetheart too, whose love for his dog is so cute. You just know he is going to be a good guy when you learn he has a babysitter for his beloved dog Charlie! He has his own hurdles to a happy life, but is also a positive, upbeat person. When their paths cross in a local coffee shop, the story is off and running and the reader just follows along happily, enjoying this sweet little story. I could totally see this book being turned into a Hallmark Christmas movie one day!

If you are in the mood for light and happy and holiday in spirit, this is the one for you! Perhaps enjoy with a few cookies or a peppermint mocha! (I did…)

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy in exchange for an honest review!

Book Review: The Glittering Hour by Iona Grey

About the Book:

An unforgettable historical about true love found and lost and the secrets we keep from one another from an award-winning author

Selina Lennox is a Bright Young Thing. Her life is a whirl of parties and drinking, pursued by the press and staying on just the right side of scandal, all while running from the life her parents would choose for her.

Lawrence Weston is a penniless painter who stumbles into Selina’s orbit one night and can never let her go even while knowing someone of her stature could never end up with someone of his. Except Selina falls hard for Lawrence, envisioning a life of true happiness. But when tragedy strikes, Selina finds herself choosing what’s safe over what’s right.

Spanning two decades and a seismic shift in British history as World War II approaches, Iona Grey’s The Glittering Hour is an epic novel of passion, heartache and loss.

My Thoughts:

I loved this wonderful, beautiful, heartbreaking book! Told from multiple viewpoints, the story of Selina Lennox and the year of 1925 is spun out before us, like a strand of pools of light.

Selina is a Bright Young Thing, a frivolous, flightly, feckless party girl, who is often in the papers much to the dismay of her mother and sister, for her partying ways. Her hair is bobbed, her lipstick is red, and she runs with a fast crowd that calls the 6 pm cocktail hour the Glittering Hour.

But not many people know that inside, Selina is running from her own feelings. She lost her brother in the war, and feels such grief that the only way she knows how to deal with is by living for the both of them, enjoying and getting the most from her life. This is working for her until the fateful night she and her friends accidentally cause the death of a stray cat. Selina refuses to leave the poor thing, and meets Lawrence Weston, who helps her bury the cat.

Neither Lawrence or Selina are able to forget each other after this weird chance meeting however. And as fate would have it, their paths cross once again, launching their love affair.

When the book begins, it is 1936 and the reader hears from both Selina and her daughter Alice. Alice is living with the Grands, while her parents are away. Selina, knowing that Blackwood Park is a joyless place, has left a treasure hunt with clues for her daughter’s amusement – and to share the story of that fateful year.

I loved this book, the story, the characters, the time. It was a beautiful story, although a tearjerker to be sure! If you are a fan of historical fiction and love stories, be sure to check this book out!

I received this book from St. Martin’s Press in exchange for an honest review.

What Wyatt's Reading – November

It has been a great reading month for Wyatt and I! It was the Beaver Moon this past month, so we read a bunch of books with beaver characters. We also read a lot of fall books, with owls and Thanksgiving, and then threw in a little winter there at the end. Here is a round up of our favorites!

Thanksgiving in the Woods and Owl Moon are two favorites around here. We all love these two books. I would love to one day have a Thanksgiving out in the woods, under the trees like the family does in that picture book. How magical it would be! Owl Moon is one we gave Wyatt for his first Christmas – Billy and I go on an owl walk every year with our local Metropark (sometimes more than one) to call owls to get a glimpse. We went last Saturday and just being in the woods at night is a treat. We can’t wait to take Wyatt – he is just not quiet enough right now. Lol.

Wyatt really loved The Mukluk Ball, Sophie’s Squash, Owl Sees Owl, Look Whooo’s Counting, and The Little Snowplow Wishes for Snow. That one was so cute honestly. And the Little Snowplow has a birthday in early March, just like Wyatt! Bird Count and Winter is Coming were both wonderful, but too much for Wyatt right now – a little long for him. Winter is Coming is beautiful though, I actually enjoyed reading it for myself. Lol. It was lyrical and beautifully illustrated, and I loved the descriptions of fall ending and winter coming. I loved that the author described the sound of a goose as gray and sad and eternal. It just seemed so perfect. That is one I am definitely buying for our home library. We were talking last night about what signs in nature symbolize the end of the year to us, and geese flying south is definitely one of them around here. Is there anything that says winter is coming to you, besides the dropping temperatures and maybe snow or rain?