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?

What Wyatt’s Reading – October

We have been doing so much reading together! My little guy loves books, always has. I remember reading to him on day two of his life, through the little porthole in the NICU incubator. I was reading The Poky Little Puppy, which had been one of my favorite books when I was a little girl. So perhaps his early introduction to books has paved the way, or maybe he is just like his mother, a reader and book lover. Whatever the reason, I love our days out at the library picking out books, and then taking our bounty home and reading them. This past month or so we have done a lot of reading about fall and Halloween and mushrooms and different sort of “hunts”. It’s been a good month. Here are some of our favorites!

We read some “hunt” books because we were talking about how this month’s full moon was the Hunter Moon. We don’t hunt animals ourselves, but we talked about animals that hunt, and also about different hunts we could do, like mushroom hunts, or rock hunting. We both loved Twilight Hunt a lot! It is not only about a hunt, but also has some great illustrations that have camouflaged animals. It was fun to try to find them together. We also both loved Minerva Louise – she is such a silly curious chicken. She makes us giggle. Wyatt really loved Peppa Pig and also the Runaway Pumpkin – he has a thing right now for farm animals, especially pigs. I particularly loved Rhoda’s Rock Hunt, which is about a little girl who fills her pockets to bursting with rocks she finds. I am buying this one for our library, I think it will be fun to reread next summer when we can get out and explore for rocks easier. Dark Emperor is a book of nature poems for children. This one we read as a family, one poem a night until we were done. We liked it so much that I think it is something we might continue.

Book Review: The Vine Witch

Goodreads Summary:

For centuries, the vineyards at Château Renard have depended on the talent of their vine witches, whose spells help create the world-renowned wine of the Chanceaux Valley. Then the skill of divining harvests fell into ruin when sorcière Elena Boureanu was blindsided by a curse. Now, after breaking the spell that confined her to the shallows of a marshland and weakened her magic, Elena is struggling to return to her former life. And the vineyard she was destined to inherit is now in the possession of a handsome stranger.

Vigneron Jean-Paul Martel naively favors science over superstition, and he certainly doesn’t endorse the locals’ belief in witches. But Elena knows a hex when she sees one, and the vineyard is covered in them. To stay on and help the vines recover, she’ll have to hide her true identity, along with her plans for revenge against whoever stole seven winters of her life. And she won’t rest until she can defy the evil powers that are still a threat to herself, Jean-Paul, and the ancient vine-witch legacy in the rolling hills of the Chanceaux Valley. 

My Thoughts:

Oh man did I love this book! I got it from the Amazon First Reads program and I immediately started reading it. And that cover is a thing of beauty!

I love this world that Smith has created – a place of magical realism with witches that help tend the vines that supply the wine, nurture the land with their own brand of magic, watch over the vineyard for curses and spells and add their own magical flavor to the terroir. In this world, bierehexe also exist, doing the same for the beers in the Alps, bakers that create treats that you crave only when you are in love, and other various supernatural elements.

Elena was on her way to being the best, her powers creating amazing wines and flavors for her vineyard, Château Renard, when she is cursed to the swamps for seven long years. This book picks up as the curse is ending, and we join her as she returns to her home and lifes calling. She finds the vineyard changed though, now under new ownership, an owner who is not a believer in magic or vine witches. Jean-Paul believes in science and fact and logic and straight farming, although in this world, that puts him at a disadvantage. He needs a vine witch, his vine witch tied to his land, to help him find the glory he craves as a winemaker. Elena is more than happy to pick up her mantle again, but first she has to convince Jean-Paul. And of course, there is the pesky detail of finding out who exactly cursed her, and how she will get her revenge. Not to mention as well, that there is some sort of criminal running around draining animals of their blood, giving a bad name to the vine witches.

Inevitably, Jean-Paul and Elena fall in love – although this is sort of slow to start and honestly, could have used more development altogether. They have to fight a few battles together, against a few different evils and battles and hurdles. I felt like here is where the book could have used a bit more something. Regardless, I completely loved this book and am looking forward to the Smith’s next one, The Glamourist.

If you like witches, or wine, or both, then you will love this book! I recommend reading paired with a hearty Cabernet, if you are a wine drinker.

Book Review: The Spook in the Stacks

Goodreads Summary:

Halloween in North Carolina’s Outer Banks becomes seriously tricky when librarian Lucy Richardson stumbles across something extra unusual in the rare books section: a dead body.

Wealthy businessman Jay Ruddle is considering donating his extensive collection of North Carolina historical documents to the Bodie Island Lighthouse Library, but the competition for the collection is fierce. Unfortunately, while the library is hosting a lecture on ghostly legends, Jay becomes one of the dearly departed in the rare books section. Now, it’s up to Lucy Richardson and her fellow librarians to bone up on their detective skills and discover who is responsible for this wicked Halloween homicide.

Meanwhile, very strange things are happening at the library—haunted horses are materializing in the marsh, the lights seem to have an eerie life of their own, and the tiny crew of a model ship appears to move around when no one is watching. Is Lucy at her wit’s end? Or can it be that the Bodie Island Lighthouse really is haunted?

With The Legend of Sleepy Hollow on everyone’s minds and ghoulish gossip on everyone’s lips, Lucy will need to separate the clues from the boos if she wants to crack this case without losing her head in The Spook in the Stacks, the delightful fourth in national bestseller Eva Gates’ Lighthouse Library mysteries.

My Thoughts:

I saw this on display at my library and it looked so cute I had to check it out – how could I pass up a cat reading Sleepy Hollow? This was my first introduction to both Eva Gates and the Lighthouse Library Mystery series, and I will definitely being going back for more. It is the fourth book in the series, yet it was not hard to figure out anything I had missed in the previous books.

The Spook in the Stacks was the perfect little cozy mystery for this time of year, with its slightly spooky vibe set at Halloween. The characters were just quirky enough without being annoying, and the main character Lucy is a great mixture of headstrong and practical; she is a woman who seems very confident and sure of herself, and I really liked that. I also loved all the literary references that of course accompanied this book.

The mystery itself kept me guessing, which is always a good sign for a book. It is a bummer when you pick up a mystery and guess who it is right off, and I did not do that with this book. I also enjoyed the parallel of the love triangle within this book compared to the one in Sleepy Hollow (one of my favorite stories!)

Also, seriously how cool would it be to live above a library, much less one in a lighthouse? I have always thought living in a lighthouse would be so cool, and contemplated for a second applying to live at the Mission Point Lighthouse in Michigan for a week. I still would love to do it but right now it is just not practical. And another thing I loved was Charles, the library cat, who kept me entertained with his antics. I have my own opinionated Himalayan here at home, so I know just how well this breed can judge the company around them. Lol.

Overall, I really enjoyed this quick, cozy mystery – curl up with it, get cozy as the genre suggests and enjoy!

Book Review: The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs

Goodreads Summary:

Connie Goodwin is an expert on America’s fractured past with witchcraft. A young, tenure-track professor in Boston, she’s earned career success by studying the history of magic in colonial America—especially women’s home recipes and medicines—and by exposing society’s threats against women fluent in those skills. But beyond her studies, Connie harbors a secret: She is the direct descendant of a woman tried as a witch in Salem, an ancestor whose abilities were far more magical than the historical record shows.

When a hint from her mother and clues from her research lead Connie to the shocking realization that her partner’s life is in danger, she must race to solve the mystery behind a hundreds’-years-long deadly curse.

Flashing back through American history to the lives of certain supernaturally gifted women, The Daughters of Temperance Hobbs affectingly reveals not only the special bond that unites one particular matriarchal line, but also explores the many challenges to women’s survival across the decades—and the risks some women are forced to take to protect what they love most. 

My Thoughts:

I loved The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane, and I was so excited when I saw that Katherine Howe had written a new book as a sequel to Constance’s story. I read this one eagerly and quickly, and really loved it.

The story picks up ten years after the first, and Constance is a professor working on tenure. She is still with Sam and while they are having some ups and downs in their relationship, they are still solid. However, her family has a secret, one that she must find the cure for before time is up.

I loved how this book flashed back through the decades to Constance’s ancestry, all the way back to Deliverance herself. We see glimpses of what the women of her bloodline have lived through, and how their family history has affected them. I loved seeing these small hints of the past, and it reminded me somewhat of Anne Rice’s Witching Hour, and reading the Talmasca history of the Mayfair Witches. (one of my favorite books ever, btw)

In between these introductions to Connie’s past, we are caught up with Connie and her race to find the answers she needs. Zazi, the student that she mentors, is a great addition to this story and I loved her presence and interests. Her character widens the range from the New England Puritan witchcraze to the south and voodoo and other forms and studies of witchcraft. I really hope that we get a book about her!

My only complaint really about this book is that it lacked a certain sense of urgency. I know we were supposed to feel that the situation was urgent and dire, but it didn’t really feel that way, until all of a sudden it was, if that makes sense. I could have used a little more build up besides the exposition of being told that it was urgent. Otherwise, I loved this book. I love books about academia and witches so this one was right up my alley, and well done. A great book to start the spooky season, as it was not really spooky but definitely supernatural!

A Few Mini-Reviews

It’s been a minute since I have posted any mini-reviews and I have been reading so many good mini reviews lately that I have decided to do a few of my own!

Stay Sexy and Don’t Get Murdered: I love this podcast and I was so excited to read this book, that I never even bothered to read what this book was about! I figured it was going to be more true crime, but it was more self-help than anything. I still really enjoyed it, and while I find Karen and Georgia fun on their podcast, it was nice to hear their voices describe their own lives and past mistakes and how they have moved on, without all the banter. Some good truths in this book! I found it so relatable, but maybe because I was a less than perfect teen and twenty year old, who made some crazy mistakes too. (If I’m being honest, I still do!)

Brazen: Rebel Ladies who Rocked the World: This book blew me away, honestly. I learned about women I had never heard of before, I read about women I had heard about, and it was all presented in graphic novel form. I picked it up on a whim, and loved the illustrations, the message, the facts. I even found some new role models! Amazing read, loved it and read it all in one afternoon! I plan on seeking out more of Bagieu’s work soon.

Leaving Time: Another one that really was amazing. This is my first Jodi Picoult book and if all of her writing is like this, no one wonder she is so loved. This was our book club pick for my neighborhood book club, and the woman who chose it told me she thought I would like it. And I did! Half of the book was about elephants, and if you are familiar with my blog, you will know that I love animals and learning about animals. And these elephants will break your heart; you will never look at an elephant the same way again. At it’s core this book is about loss and grief and mothers and healing, and is so beautifully written. And then the end, I just didn’t see it coming. Excellent book.

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.