Book Review: The Creative Family Manifesto

Goodreads Summary:

Spark and nurture your family’s creativity–a guide for making creativity an intentional part of everyday life.

When you learn to awaken your family’s creativity, wonderful things will happen: you’ll make meaningful connections with your children in large and small ways; your children will more often engage in their own creative discoveries; and your family will embrace new ways to relax, play, and grow together. With just the simple tools around you–your imagination, basic art supplies, household objects, and natural materials–you can transform your family life, and have so much more fun! This book embraces a whole new way of living that will engage your children’s imagination, celebrate their achievements, and help you to express love and gratitude for each other as a family.

My Thoughts:

My husband grew up in a very artistic, creative family. His mother was always painting or drawing or creating pottery (still is) and she passed this talent and love for art on to her children. When I met my husband in third grade, we shared a double desk and he would draw me pictures. I wish I still had them now! My family is full of creative thinkers, but we are not particularly skilled in drawing or painting, except for my brother and my grandmother. Creativity and fun were a huge part of my childhood, but not necessarily art or drawing. I really want to create an environment full of wonder and art and creativity for Wyatt but I felt I needed a little support, and this book had some wonderful ideas on how to incorporate art into our everyday and lifestyle, and really make it accessible to Wyatt.

A few things that really resonated with me: First, to purchase quality materials for the whole family to use and keep them where your child can use them as they desire. That whole idea of keeping things for nice or special doesn’t work with art supplies. It can be discouraging and frustrating to use poor quality versions of things (we have all had that experience with crayons I am sure!) so I took this advice and invested in some better quality sketch pads, watercolor paints, and colored pencils, as a start. I didn’t buy the top of the line, but I didn’t buy the cheapest there was either.

We have already put our new materials to good use! We have been heading to a quiet spot in the outdoors and spending time sketching and drawing together. I am not an artist by any means but I feel by trying along with Wyatt then I am showing him you don’t need to be in order to enjoy it and do it, and that it will encourage and foster a love of art in him.

However, the book also talks about being resourceful in your materials as well! Don’t limit yourself to traditional items, explore places like the pantry and nature – use found items to create art. I know that we have definitely done this in our home, with all of our Fruit Loop creations earlier in the spring.

Other ideas that I love and that I am going to incorporate into our dynamic is just making fun of the everyday. I try to do this anyway, but Soule had a few suggestions that I loved. One suggestion was a family meeting in bed – I kind of love the idea of all of us piled into the bed on Saturday and Sunday mornings, discussing what we would like to do that day – and to make sure that you make time for art! I also loved the idea of having toasts for accomplishments at dinner – no matter big or small, if they are a proud moment, let’s toast to it!

Soule encourages families to try it all, basically – knitting, painting, photography, embroidery, plays and theater – the only limit really is your imagination. I found this book to be inspiring and can’t wait to see what we all create together!

Book Review: Honey and Venom

From the Publisher:

Considered an “industry legend” by The New York Times, Andrew Coté has one of the most intriguing, challenging, and unique jobs in New York City—maintaining millions of honey bees atop some of the city’s most iconic buildings. His apiaries have crowned the Waldorf Astoria and the Museum of Modern Art; reside on the North Lawn of the United Nations; reign above stores, hotels, restaurants, schools, churches, and synagogues; and are situated in community gardens, and even cemeteries, throughout the five boroughs.
 
In this debut collection, Coté takes readers with him on his daily apiary adventures over the course of a year, in the city and across the globe. Here, among his many duties, he is called to capture swarms that have clustered on fire hydrants, air-conditioning units, or street-vendor umbrellas. Annually, he travels with his father to regions like remote Fijian islands, rural Uganda, Haiti, Ecuador, or Iraq with his organization, Bees Without Borders, where he teaches beekeepers how to increase their honey yield and income via beekeeping endeavors.
 
Written with Coté’s trademark humor, acumen, and a healthy dose of charm, Honey and Venom illuminates the obscure culture of New York City “beeks” and the biology of the bees themselves, from the humble drone to the fittingly named worker to the queen herself—who is more a slave than a monarch. The hive world, Coté reveals, is full of strivers and slackers, givers and takers, and even some insect promiscuity—startlingly similar to the prickly human variety.
 
For Coté, a fourth-generation beekeeper, this is a family tradition, and this personal significance pervades his celebration of the romance and mystery of bees, their honey, and the beekeepers whose lives revolve around these most magical creatures.

My Thoughts:

When I think of beekeepers, I think of pastoral, rural, peaceful settings, a life full of flowers and honey ; Andrew Coté is far from this image. His life and career is globetrotting, star studded, and full of rooftops and city streets, hard work and long hours (although I am sure those rural type beekeepers also work long and hard hours!)

I was pleasantly surprised by this book! I should have realized that the life of an urban beekeeper would be leagues different from those on farms and homesteads, however I never would have imagined the amazing things that Coté, has done in his life as a beekeeper. One such thing is his Bees Without Borders program that he founded to help fight poverty, and he has travelled to such countries as Kenya, Nigeria, and Iraq and others, to teach them beekeeping skills. Some of the stories he had to tell about his travels were were humorous, while some highlighted the dangers he faced in his mission to help others, and bees.

Coté, also had stories to tell of commercials, tv show appearances (Cake Boss, for one), and being a beekeeper to the rich and famous – namely one very famous woman renowned for her lifestyle whose name begins with M. In addition to all of this, Coté, also founded the New York City Beekeepers Association, maintains his own empire of bees, and assists with dangerous bee situations that plague the city – such as a hoarding house whose bees became a danger and nuisance to the city, working side by side with the police in such cases.

I really loved this book – I loved hearing about all of Coté’s adventures, his family history with bees and beekeeping, and the little facts that he threw in about bees as well – such as the fact that the scent of bananas enrages them! This book was a great read and I loved learning about a whole different world, the world of the urban beekeeper.

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

Book Review: Summer at Lake Haven

Goodreads Summary:

Samantha Fremont may still be grappling with her mother’s death, but this summer she’s determined to build a new life for herself. Starting with making her friend’s dream wedding dress and establishing herself as a boutique fashion designer in the process. What she does not need is a surprise litter of puppies, the voice in the back of her mind saying she can’t do any of this—or her friend’s gorgeous brother who’s visiting from England for the wedding.

Ian Somerhill knows a sabbatical in Haven Point is exactly what his children need to recover from their own mother’s death. And even if he and Sam got off on the wrong foot, she has a way with Miranda and Thomas. As Sam—and her adorable puppies—bond with his children, they fall into a friendship unlike any he’s had in a long time. But Ian has obligations in England her can’t ignore—and a complicated past that might just stop this summer romance from ever blooming into something more.

My Thoughts:

Remember when you were a kid, and summer seemed to last forever and was all about playing outside, reading all night, fireflies and popsicles? That is what this book made me feel while I was reading it – like I was on an endless summer vacation. It was so light and easy and happy – plus, it had puppies and a rumply, British professor love interest…

Samantha is a romantic – how could you not be, if you are a wedding dress designer? She and her late mother used to run a boutique together – now that her mother is gone, the boutique is Samantha’s, which she runs while designing custom wedding dresses as well. Samantha is learning to live life out from under the shadow of her sharp tongued mother, who seemed to always have a derisive or mocking thing to say, even to her devoted daughter. Starry-eyed Sam, she would call her, making fun (and not in a lighthearted teasing way) of Samantha’s quick propensity to fall in love. So now that Sam is on her own for the first time ever, she is trying to override that little voice inside that wants to hold her back, that niggling of self-doubt.

When Ian and his family move in next door for the summer, Samantha vows she will not fall head over heels for this handsome, fish obsessed professor. She has learned her lesson. Ian has a past – and future – of his own that overshadows any hope of a relationship, the least of which is the geographical distance.

I enjoyed this easy little summer read very much – I love RaeAnne Thayne and Haven Point, so this was a sweet return to favorite characters. They just make me smile! And this book was no different. I loved seeing the evolution of Samantha and Ian, and also their own personal growth overcoming the history that is weighing them down.

All in all, a must read for your summer reading, whether you are on a beach or just at home!

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

Picture Book Review: Under My Tree

Under My Tree by Muriel Tallandier

From the Publisher:

A modern take on Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree that celebrates the friendship between a curious child and her favorite tree.

When Susanne leaves her city home to visit her grandmother, she finds a very special tree of her own in the forest. Each time she returns to the tree, she observes something unique about it—from the sheltering protection of its branches to the scratchy surface of its bark.

This is a wonderful introduction to trees for young children that gently cultivates an appreciation for nature. Interwoven in the fiction text are unique facts about trees and simple activities that encourage readers to touch, smell, and observe the world that is all around them. Printed on FSC-certified paper with vegetable-based inks.

My Thoughts:

By the time I finished reading this book to my five year old, I knew that this was one that we need to buy for our own personal library. A little girl so in love with her tree, that she looks forward to seeing it every year when she visits her grandmother. I love this depiction of a child’s relationship with nature! I loved the science sprinkled throughout, the thought provoking questions for children, the prompts to use their senses when thinking about the tree. I loved that the little girl loved her tree so much she shared it with her friends and her family. We are such a nature loving family, that this was a wonderful story to share with my son, to encourage his own relationship with our natural world, and engage his curiosity and senses. I loved this book, but even better, so did my five year old.

This book is compared to Shel Silverstein’s The Giving Tree, which is a wonderful book, although a sad one. I think this book has a different tone, one that respects the tree, which I enjoy much more.

This was just a lovely story with beautiful illustrations, and one I plan to buy for my son’s shelves, to be read again and again.

Thank you to NetGalley and Myrick Marketing and Media for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Book Review: A Death Long Overdue by Eva Gates

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From the Publisher:

When her former director is found dead in the water, librarian Lucy Richardson will have to get to the bottom of the mystery before the killer ends her tale.

It’s summertime in the Outer Banks of North Carolina and Bertie James’s college class is having their 40th anniversary reunion. The opening night reception is held at the Lighthouse Library and Lucy and her colleagues have assembled an exhibit of library artifacts showing how libraries have changed over the years. After the reception, some of the women take a walk down the boardwalk to the pier, using flashlights to illuminate the dark path, but what’s scarier than the dark is finding the former director of the Lighthouse Library floating lifeless in the water.

Helena Sanchez, the former director, wasn’t much loved and spent the party being rude to almost everyone there. As a result, Lucy finds herself in deep water as she rocks the boat, questioning several suspects. But she’ll have to batten down the hatches and fast before she’s left high and dry…and right in the killer’s crosshairs.

My Thoughts:

I am so enjoying this series! I first began reading it last October, when The Spook in the Stacks was part of an autumn book display at my library. I picked it up, took it home, and haven’t looked back. The Lighthouse Library series is such an interesting and fun mystery series and I love the setting, an historic lighthouse on the Outer Banks!

Lucy Richardson has been living and working in the Lighthouse Library for a year now, and in that year, her coworkers, boyfriend Connor, and local police have all gotten used to her penchant for detective work. Maybe it is all the mysteries she has read, but Lucy has a knack for solving the crimes and unofficially helping the police. And the Lighthouse Library does seem to have some sort of unlucky star over it for some folks, as an unusual amount of people do seem to turn up dead near it.

This book is no different – following a class reunion at the Lighthouse Library, the former director, who was not beloved by her patrons or coworkers, was found dead in the water…and it was not an accident. Lucy’s irrepressible curiosity and clever mind lead her down many avenues of inquiry, some alongside Detective Sam Watson, others on her own. I particularly loved the ending of this book! Sometimes a series can grow stale, but this one just keeps getting better and better.

I loved this book, and found myself reading it whenever I found a few free seconds – not easy when I am also parenting a five year old during a shelter-in-place order! Despite that, I managed to read this book quickly – I had to find out the “whodunit”!  I think this book is perfect for summer reading at the beach, on a rainy day, or just whenever you need a great escape, and a mystery to solve. The literary references and adorable Himalayan Charles are perfect little added bonuses. I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves a cozy mystery!

 

Thank you to NetGalley for the chance to read and review this book!

 

Quarantine Book Tag

We are still under the Stay at Home Order here in Michigan, although some businesses are being reopened in phases again. And good news from my area – it is no longer considered a hotspot so the order is working! So while we sit tight a little longer and let the essential workers do their jobs as safely as possible, I thought it would be neat to do this book tag! I saw it on Woven From Words‘ blog and I thought it looked fun! She has some great answers so be sure to pop over there too! The Quarantine Book Tag was created by OurBookNook.

Must-Have: a book you *have* to have with you while quarantined:

Watership Down , 100%. My favorite book of all time and I never ever get bored with reading it. And now that spring is basically here (despite the winter snowstorm in our forecast) it is time for me to reread it again. I just love this band of courageous rabbits!

Isolation: a book where the MC spends most of their time alone

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating made a huge impact on me. It is now one of my favorites and honestly is almost made to be read right now. (Review)

Binge Read: a long book series you’d recommend to someone who has a lot more time on their hands

I love a good cozy mystery and Hamish Macbeth is one of the first I ever read! I love his quirky village of Lochdubh in the Scottish Highlands, and this book series is super long at over 30 books!

Toilet Paper — All the TP is gone! What book are you using?

Yeah it was between this and Twilight… and if I had to choose I would keep Twilight over this one.

Anti-viral: a book that went viral that you have avoided or not read… yet

This book seemed to be everywhere for a while! I haven’t read it yet though.

Super Binge: What book and TV series combo would you recommend?

Because Jamie Fraser…..

Those are all the questions! If you would like to take part, consider yourself tagged!

Reading Roundup for April

This month I actually was able to start reading again, but I seem to be stuck on a genre and a series. I can only focus on supernatural witchy ghost books right now, and I have some armchair psychiatrist reasons why. Anything too intense is just well, too intense. Too complex and I can’t concentrate well enough to catch all that I normally would and I don’t feel I would appreciate it fully, and if they are too happy, that isn’t jiving with me because we are living in such strange days. So I think I am enjoying these because they have happy endings but the characters are in a sort of state of chaos as well. I am going to try to read something different next week, I am going to head back to the cozy mystery Lighthouse Library series I had been reading and see how I do.

That all being said, this is what I read this month..

And I am about to finish book 7, hopefully tonight!

So rather than go book by book, I think I am just going to discuss this series.

Charlie Payne is a psychic who is able to communicate with ghosts, and in the first book she begins to use her talents to assist the police, when a police officer’s mother asks her to look into the haunting of her house. The policeman, Jason, doesn’t trust her and assumes she is a con artist, but after seeing what she can do first hand, becomes a believer.

Charlie’s whole family is made up of gifted witches, all with different abilities. Together, Charlie and her cousins Lisa, Jen, and Daphne with their Aunt Evangeline work together with Jason in working his tough cases. Throughout the books, a few more characters are added in, each with their own roles to play. I don’t want to spoil it and tell you too much here though!

I really enjoy all of these characters. They seem like real people. I feel like sometimes you read books and characters just aren’t relatable – they don’t act or say things like just a normal real person does. Charlie and her crew are interesting characters, each very different but also make me think of regular people I might run into in life, with their reactions and way of doing things. I also love the family dynamic – they have family dinners every Friday and are such a tight knit little family. I love that.

As for the stories themselves, I feel like this series just kept getting better and better as I plowed my way through them. The only thing that bothers me is that there are editing errors that bug me here and there. Overall though, I am really enjoying these books! I will definitely keep reading this series, and also look into her other series, Book of Kaels.

Book Review: Girl Can’t Help It by Max Allan Collins

Goodreads Summary:

 A rock band’s reunion is looking more like a farewell tour in a captivating mystery by New York Times bestselling and award-winning crime master Max Allan Collins.

No sooner do Hot Rod and the Pistons reunite for their induction into the Iowa Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame, than two band members take a final bow. Both alleged suicides. A tragic way to go out. A bum way for one-hit wonders to be remembered. But it’s Labor Day weekend. The show must go on.

With replacements at the ready, the Pistons are back on home turf to headline the first ever Rock and Country Music Fest. Police Chief Krista Larson and her father, Keith, are there listening. And watching. Because they suspect there may be more to the band members’ untimely deaths than anyone else can see.

As Krista and Keith navigate the investigation, a dark picture of the band’s rocky history begins to take center stage. As betrayal, revenge, and blackmail start playing out in the present, the father-daughter team fear that this encore may be the band’s finale. 

My Thoughts:

I really enjoyed this book!! I had another book that I was supposed to be reading, but kept gravitating back to this one instead. I felt like I was cheating on my other book, so I decided to let that one go to concentrate on this one. I was hooked and needed to know what was going to happen next!

Hot Rod and the Pistons are a local band that made it big, had its heyday, then faded away. They may have been gone but the certainly were not forgotten, as they had still had groupies and fans, as their induction into the Iowa Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert proved. The band hit the the stage with the same attitude and vigor as in their youth, and the crowd ate it up! This was the kick-off to their reunion tour, but unfortunately, two band members were not going to make it.

Krista Larson, chief of police in Galena, Iowa where the second death occurs, follows her suspicions with the help of her father, retired detective Keith Larson, who has consulted on high-profile cases before. Something seems off to them, not quite right. Keith had only just been with the second band member shortly before he died, and things are not adding up.

Their investigation navigates many obstacles, but behind the scenes there are.so.many.secrets! Blackmail, revenge, just general ugliness rearing its head. And the final conclusion – wow!

I enjoyed all the rock and roll references and scene in this book, and I loved the relationship between Keith and Krista, and their own personal landmines they had to navigate as well! This was a thrilling read that had me hooked from the start!

I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review.

Book Reviews- Willow Tree Hall 1-3

Ah this little series was such a fun series to read! When I found it on Kindle, I thought I would give it a go. The covers were so inviting, the premise sounded promising, and I really needed something light and easy. And this series lived up to all of those expectations!

Love Begins at Willow Tree Hall starts with the story of Annie and Sam. Annie is the housekeeper for Willow Tree Hall, and de facto caretaker for its two elderly residents, Arthur and Rose, a brother and sister duo. Their respective grandsons and grandnephews had careers that took them around the world and they never seemed to find their way back home too often, especially eldest grandson Sam. Sam and his brother Will therefore were unaware of just how decrepit and crumbling Willow Tree Hall was becoming – or really even how much help their loved ones needed. When Arthur has a fall that lands him in the hospital, Sam soon learns what is going on at the Hall, and things slowly but surely begin to change…

Summer Secrets at Willow Tree Hall centers on Annie’s best friend from school, Eleanor, and one of Sam’s musicians that he manages, Tom. Eleanor finds herself back in her hometown after an extended time away, and is drawn to the Hall while she takes her care of her mother, who has injured her foot and needs help taking care of her menagerie of animals. I think that was my favorite part, all the animals in this book! They are not front and center by any means, but they endear me to Eleanor and her mother. Then a stray English Setter enters the scene, and he stole my heart. I had my own scared, skinny, stray English Setter at one point named Penny, so Dylan was a great bonus for me.

A Winter Wedding at Willow Tree Hall is all about Will and Skye. Will is still hanging out in the Alps, managing his construction company and many short relationships – until he isn’t anymore. He lands back at the Hall, at odds with his situation and himself, truth be told. He has been harboring a secret for a very long time as well, that has been slowly poisoning him and his relationships, with his family and in love. Skye and her Airstream had planned on just a quick stop at the Hall on her way to stay with her sister, after a lifetime of taking care of people while neglecting her own dreams and desires. She learns she has inherited half of a Lodge on the Hall’s estate – and the other co-owner is Will. Their story was my favorite of them all!

There is nothing too intense about these reads, and they are perfect for that reading escape, curled up in your favorite spot with your favorite beverage.

This post contains Amazon Affiliate links for books, where I will make a small commission if you were to make a purchase, at no extra cost to you.

Book Review: Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts

Goodreads Summary:

A dying billionaire sends one woman and a cast of dreamers and rivals on a citywide treasure hunt in this irresistible novel by the author of Bellweather Rhapsody.

Tuesday Mooney is a loner. She keeps to herself, begrudgingly socializes, and spends much of her time watching old Twin Peaks and X-Files DVDs. But when Vincent Pryce, Boston’s most eccentric billionaire, dies—leaving behind an epic treasure hunt through the city, with clues inspired by his hero, Edgar Allan Poe—Tuesday’s adventure finally begins.

Puzzle-loving Tuesday searches for clue after clue, joined by a ragtag crew: a wisecracking friend, an adoring teen neighbor, and a handsome, cagey young heir. The hunt tests their mettle, and with other teams from around the city also vying for the promised prize—a share of Pryce’s immense wealth—they must move quickly. Pryce’s clues can’t be cracked with sharp wit alone; the searchers must summon the courage to face painful ghosts from their pasts (some more vivid than others) and discover their most guarded desires and dreams.

A deliciously funny ode to imagination, overflowing with love letters to art, from The Westing Game to Madonna to the Knights of the Round Table, Tuesday Mooney Talks to Ghosts is the perfect read for thrill seekers, wanderers, word lovers, and anyone looking for an escape to the extraordinary.

My thoughts:

This book was so full of things that I love! I really could not put it down.

Tuesday Mooney is a wonderful character. She has a job, a routine, a life that she loves as a prospect researcher, which I didn’t even know was a job but it sounds right up my alley. She has a friend or two, and even though she keeps other people at a distance, doesn’t really feel lonely. She is content. Until a fateful fundraiser, where Vincent Pryce dies, setting into motion a large-scale scavenger hunt where Pryce’s mass treasure is the prize.

All of sudden Tuesday’s world is thrown into a tizzy. She wants more than anything to win that prize, solve that riddle. Her social circle expands as other things fall apart; life is not so carefully ordered for Miss Mooney anymore. And I loved that. I loved that her world that she so carefully crafted was spun upside down by her absolute passion and drive to complete this challenge.

This books takes you on many journeys, through different motivations and desires and personal quests, all wrapped up in one big mystery. I completely loved it and need to read more by this author ASAP!