My Sunday-Monday Post!

My Sunday Post is hosted by Kimba the Caffeinated Book Reviewer

Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz

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

Last week was a pretty good week. Wyatt and I did some fun things, then Friday my mom came over and we socially distanced a picnic dinner. She brought her dinner with her and we had ours, just simple stuff so that we could spend our time talking and enjoying the weather. It was such a nice time. Then Saturday I got brave – I masked up and went to my favorite nursery to pick out some flowers. And it was a good experience. It is a giant nursery, all outdoors, it wasn’t crowded at all, and 99% of the people were masked. They had arrows on the floor to mark one way aisles, 6 feet distancing for the lines, and the cashiers had new plastic shields up. I was scared but soon sort of relaxed as I browsed, since there really wasn’t anyone around me. I went with a list but since I was going so late in the season knew I might have to make swaps. The only things I didn’t end up getting were snapdragons (my favorite!) and lettuce plants, but I bought pentas and swiss chard instead. Then I spent the rest of the afternoon planting everything. Today my brother is coming by to rototill my last little area that I need to work on and then I will be set for this year’s makeshift garden.

Read Last Week:

I read Summer at Lake Haven and it was just I had hoped, a light easy summer read. Perfect for my mood last week. Review coming very soon! I also started Honey and Venom, which I am also enjoying, but didn’t finish yet, so I will be reading it this week as well. I am learning some crazy things about bees – like the scent of bananas enrages them! So don’t eat bananas and then go around bees. Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copies of both!

Reading This Week:

I have been waiting a long time to read this! I pre-ordered it a million years ago because I loved The Vine Witch so much, and yay, now it is here! I love witchy books and this world that Smith created is so fun.

Posted Last Week:

Homeschooling: Bee Week!

Small Steps

Picture Book Review: Under My Tree

Watching:

We are still watching Rosemary and Thyme, and we have one episode left of When Hope Calls. It’s not as good as When Calls the Heart, but I do like the relationship between the sisters. Both of the movies we watched this weekend left me unsettled. I enjoyed them both, but I felt sort of sad after watching both of them. We watched The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher, which is apparently based on a true story, and then The Bookshop, starring Emily Mortimer and Bill Nighy, whom I adore in everything. Both were excellent, but definitely left you with lots to think about. These movies are both on Amazon Video.

And that about sums it up for me! Stay safe everyone.

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.

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.