Where The Forest Meets the Stars – Book Review

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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.

“Remember that feeling you described—the ‘horrific crush of humanity’ on your soul—maybe that’s another way of saying you’re afraid people will hurt you if you let them get close.”

During the time I was on my unpaid leave, obviously, money was tight so I relied on my Kindle Unlimited and Prime subscription for the supply of books. This book was “first read selection” for February 2019 and I chose it because the summary seemed interesting plus the cover attracted me, I’m a certified junkie for star-related stuff. I normally wouldn’t go for this type of books, I’m more into fantasy but the story of this book captivated me for hours and I couldn’t stop reading.

The story is about two flawed people, Joanna, and Gabriel that connected through an alien child named Ursa who got sent to earth to witness five miracles. Everything about this book is pure raw unfiltered emotions and it just feels incredibly real, the suspense of Ursa’s true past kept me on edge and wanting to know more. The relationship between Joanna and Gabriel was rather unique and not as predictable, the bond between those three characters give this book a special place in my heart and I honestly cried while reaching the end, it blew my mind.

Where The Forest Meets The Stars is one of the most incredible, amazing, enchanting, beautiful stories I’ve ever read. There’s a reason why it has high ratings, trust that and go in blind.

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OwlCrate – June 2019

I finally resubscribed to OwlCrate, it’s been such a long time I really missed it. I’ve said this before but I have to say it again, this subscription box is my favorite and I would recommend it to any bookworm.

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June’s theme was “Libraries of Wonder”, the card design looks like Beauty and The Beast drawing.

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This has to be my favorite enamel pin I ever received, it’s so beautiful and it fits the theme of the box as it read “Child of The Library”. The design is by Brio + Brandish.

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Key Gel Pen

I saw the key and I instantly thought KINGDOM HEARTS! Of course, it joined me in my office, it looks pretty and writes in a smooth motion.

Libraries of Wonder Coaster Set by KDP Letters

A set of 4 coasters with great quotes about libraries by authors like J.K Rowling and Victoria Schwab. I absolutely love these, I use them with my morning coffee each day different design.

Belle’s Library Book Beau Brew by Cervantes Coffee

The scent of this coffee filled the box the moment I opened it, I was afraid it somehow opened and poured out but thankfully it was just the scent that spilled out. I love the line in the packaging “nutty, bright, a touch of this provincial life” from Belle’s song, I didn’t try it yet but I can guess from the scent that it’s nutty almost like Nutella.

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Strange the Dreamer-inspired Tote Bag by Stella Bookish Art

I’ve always loved the tote bags sent by OwlCrate, this one is inspired by Strange The Dreamer which sits currently in my to-read list. The colors are so vibrant and beautiful, the handles are extra long as well.

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The Chronicles of Narnia-inspired Metal Bookends by Hey Atlas Creative

I’ve always admired bookends, they keep books neatly organized so I was excited for this item. The design is inspired by Narnia with the lamp post and the forest trees, it looks so beautiful.

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And finally, the book of the month Scorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson which came along with a letter from the author as well as a sticker with a quote from the book. Now the book features an exclusive cover and also signed by the author.

All sorcerers are evil. Elisabeth has known that as long as she has known anything. Raised as a foundling in one of Austermeer’s Great Libraries, Elisabeth has grown up among the tools of sorcery—magical grimoires that whisper on shelves and rattle beneath iron chains. If provoked, they transform into grotesque monsters of ink and leather. She hopes to become a warden, charged with protecting the kingdom from their power.

Then an act of sabotage releases the library’s most dangerous grimoire. Elisabeth’s desperate intervention implicates her in the crime, and she is torn from her home to face justice in the capital. With no one to turn to but her sworn enemy, the sorcerer Nathaniel Thorn, and his mysterious demonic servant, she finds herself entangled in a centuries-old conspiracy. Not only could the Great Libraries go up in flames, but the world along with them.

As her alliance with Nathaniel grows stronger, Elisabeth starts to question everything she’s been taught—about sorcerers, about the libraries she loves, even about herself. For Elisabeth has a power she has never guessed, and a future she could never have imagined.

The summary instantly made me think of Harry Potter for some reason, it seems very interesting and to be honest, this book was recommended to me before I even got the box by Goodreads so I was surprised and excited to see it in this month’s box.

Overall, I’m so happy that I resubscribed to OwlCrate. The box contents fit perfectly with the theme and the book seem very exciting. My favorite items would be the coasters and the bookends.

Books, New Hobbies and OMG I Actually Cooked

Dear Blog,

I know you’re upset that I neglected you but I have a perfect explanation for it … I couldn’t write anymore. I felt like I needed a break before I traumatize you with low traffic and ratings during the infamous DA update, I took a break for a couple of months. Hopefully, I’ll keep the motive and energy to keep posting because I really missed blogging.

In my previous post, I talked about trying new things to break my comfort zone and that’s what I’ve been doing in the past couple of months. I’ve been reading (and listening) to a lot of books, currently sitting on 49 books out of the 100 I challenged myself to finish this year.

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I have to say that buying Kindle was a trigger in unleashing my hidden bookworm. I’ve been reading most of my limited free time as being a mom has a lot of time restrictions so I switch from reading and listening. I’m planning to post reviews on the blog, I started it in a couple of posts before. I’m also trying to be more critical when it comes to reviews, I honestly feel horrible when I think about giving a low rating to certain books because I feel that I am personally hurting the author’s feelings (I hope I’m not the only one thinking that way)

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I’ve been trying to get into new hobbies, to be more specific “Gardening”. My husband tends this small garden which has various types of trees, flowers and of course his beloved Jasmines.

If you’ve never experienced the joy of accomplishing more than you can imagine, plant a garden. ~ Robert Brault

I’ve been into succulents and cactus for the longest time, and I thought it’s time for me to channel this fixation in getting a cactus. It’s the cutest Bunny Ears cactus I’ve ever seen (You’re not allowed to tell me otherwise) of course I’m planning in growing more succulents and cactuses, probably create one of those small stairs that has pots on them that I keep seeing on Pinterest which I’m sure will never look as aesthetic as the pictures. At least I’ll try and my effort will be valued by my currently non-existent potted plants.

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Last month was Ramadhan and let me tell you the greatest achievement of my life, in my twenty-something years on this earth I’ve finally cooked something and fortunately didn’t burn the house down. I would consider myself privileged as I’ve been used to having maids around me that serve, cook, clean and do the laundry for me. When I got married, I wanted to do those chores on my own and it felt refreshing to be able to do all this except for cooking. I was intimidated by the idea that one day I’ll have to cook for my family when I’m clearly bad and inexperienced so this ramadhan I decided to try using the app Tasty, which was a blessing for me and it helped me a lot.

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Now that we are up-to-date, I’m happy to be back blogging ❤

 

Woman Last Seen In Her Thirties – Book Review

Following the previous oh-so-long ago post, I’ll start posting reviews of each book I read for the 2019 reading challenge individually because I need to convince myself that I can still blog.

At fifty-three, Maggie Harris has a good marriage and two mostly happy children. Perpetually anxious, she’s also accumulated a list of semi-reasonable fears: falling air conditioners, the IRS, identity theft, skydiving, and airbag recalls. But never once did Maggie worry that her husband of nearly thirty years would leave her.

On the day Adam walks out the door, everything that makes Maggie secure goes with him. Only then does she realize that while she’s been busy caring for everyone else, she’s become invisible to the world—and to herself.

Maggie cautiously begins to rebuild her life with a trip to Rome, a new career, and even a rebound romance. But when a fresh crisis strikes and an uncertain future looms, she must decide: How much will she risk to remain the woman she’s just become?

 I once read that the recipe for a good life had but three ingredients: something to do, someone to love, and something to look forward to.

This would be my second book to read from the author Camille Pagán and I have to say that I enjoyed it more than the first one (Life and Other Near-Death Experiences). I absolutely love her writing style, it screams ‘relatable’ to me because the words bleed from how vulnerable the main character is and how she unravels layer by layer as the story progresses. Her personality, what made me like the book even more, as a mom of two myself I find myself giving my all to my family, I put their happiness and well-being before mine and I think it’s quite common between us moms since we are naturally considered the “fixers” or the “nurtures”.

The book is narrated by my favorite narrator Amy McFadden, her voice brought Maggie’s personality in a more elaborate tone and rounded the character development from invisible and vulnerable to confident by the ending. I could say it’s almost the same as “Eat Pray Love” and “The Bridget Jones Diaries” in terms of self-discovery. I would recommend it even though some would consider it as a Chick Lit, it’s very entertaining and I love Camille’s way of injecting humor in her books.

My Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐

 

 

2019 Reading Challenge

Before I start this post, let’s address the elephant in the … blogging community. If you are a blogger you already know all about SEO, Moz and other alphabetical terms I’m sure I’m supposed to know. Recently Moz Domain Authority algorithms got updated and we all dropped and I honestly felt quite discouraged to continue blogging. It’s heartbreaking to see your two years worth of word vomit -Posts Rei, it’s called posts- not really going anywhere. I took some time away from my blog, and I was thinking to delete my whole blog and restart. The idea is still there but for now, I’ll try to slowly return to blogging, and for this so-called comeback I chose my favorite topic “Books”

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By the end of last year, I bought a Kindle and it’s been my favorite device. It immensely increased my time spent in reading which I’ve been doing in work, in a salon, even while breastfeeding. I’ve set the number 20 as my reading challenge goal for 2019 and I’ve read 18 so far, so I’m almost there which feels great of course.

Libby Miller has always been an unwavering optimist – but when her husband drops a bomb on their marriage the same day a doctor delivers devastating news, she realizes her rose-colored glasses have actually been blinding her.

With nothing left to lose, she abandons her life in Chicago for the clear waters and bright beaches of the Caribbean for what might be her last hurrah. Despite her new sunny locale, her plans go awry when she finds that she can’t quite outrun the past or bring herself to face an unknowable future. Every day of tropical bliss may be an invitation to disaster, but with her twin brother on her trail and a new relationship on the horizon, Libby is determined to forget about fate. Will she risk it all to live – and love – a little longer?

The first book I finished would be Life and Other Near-Death Experiences by Camille Pagán. I remember getting this book on my Kindle because it was free by that time and I wanted a light read (It’s still free for Kindle). Not sure if I would consider “cancer” as a light material for a book but it gave some explanation to the behavior of the characters, while I would say the story seem a bit predictable. I was listening to this book on my way to work and I have to say the narrator (Amy McFadden) made it very enjoyable, she portrayed the main character (Libby) attitude in talking and thinking perfectly. The writing style is very raw and it’s injected with humor which the author is known for, I did enjoy the book but I thought some parts didn’t make sense to me like how she was dealing with her husband when he was clearly going through a lot already.

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

Kate Harker is a girl who isn’t afraid of the dark. She’s a girl who hunts monsters. And she’s good at it. August Flynn is a monster who can never be human. No matter how much he once yearned for it. He has a part to play. And he will play it, no matter the cost.

Nearly six months after Kate and August were first thrown together, the war between the monsters and the humans is a terrifying reality. In Verity, August has become the leader he never wished to be, and in Prosperity, Kate has become the ruthless hunter she knew she could be. When a new monster emerges from the shadows—one who feeds on chaos and brings out its victim’s inner demons—it lures Kate home, where she finds more than she bargained for. She’ll face a monster she thought she killed, a boy she thought she knew, and a demon all her own.

“Because she knew a secret: there were two kinds of monsters, the kind that hunted the streets and the kind that lived in your head. She could fight the first, but the second was more dangerous. It was always, always, always a step ahead.”

Our Dark Duet is the sequel and conclusion of the first book “This Savage Song” which I got a couple of years ago in OwlCrate. I absolutely loved the first book so I was very excited to read the second, it was much lengthier and I loved every minute of it. I went through a rollercoaster of emotions with these two books, the ending left me breathless and I want to say not fair but I could understand why it happened. I’m definitely calling this story as my favorite and it made the author Victoria Schwab my favorite as well, I would love to read more of her books.

My Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

A heart to protect. A debt to repay. A game to win.

After being swept up in the magical world of Caraval, Donatella Dragna has finally escaped her father and saved her sister Scarlett from a disastrous arranged marriage. The girls should be celebrating, but Tella isn’t yet free. She made a desperate bargain with a mysterious criminal, and what Tella owes him no one has ever been able to deliver: Caraval Master Legend’s true name.

The only chance of uncovering Legend’s identity is to win Caraval, so Tella throws herself into the legendary competition once more―and into the path of the murderous heir to the throne, a doomed love story, and a web of secrets…including her sister’s. Caraval has always demanded bravery, cunning, and sacrifice. But now the game is asking for more. If Tella can’t fulfill her bargain and deliver Legend’s name, she’ll lose everything she cares about―maybe even her life. But if she wins, Legend and Caraval will be destroyed forever.

Welcome, welcome to Caraval…the games have only just begun.

“Not everyone gets a true ending. There are two types of endings because most people give up at the part of the story where things are the worst, where the situation feels hopeless. But that’s when hope is needed most. only those who persevere can find their true ending.”

I didn’t think I would enjoy the second book more than the first one, and it’s like the previous book I mentioned, I got the first book in OwlCrate before and I liked it to the point I purchased the second book. I loved Tella’s personality more than Scarlett’s and as reckless as she is, she actually makes better decisions than her sister – In the first book, I meant. One of my guilty pleasures is the description of the gowns and dresses they’ve been wearing, I would love to see them in real life and probably wear some – definitely all, not some-. I instantly pre-ordered the third book the moment I finished reading it and I can’t wait to see how the ending will play out, quite literally.

My Rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Wow, it’s been a while since I wrote such a long post, it feels great to return to blogging. I’ll stop with three books in this post and I’ll write three more in the upcoming posts for sure. Let me know what are your favorite books you’ve been reading lately.

My Best Purchase in 2018

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First of all, I feel guilty that I broke my promise to only read written-on-paper books. I’ve always liked the smell of books so accepting this new device took some time. On November Amazon released the new Kindle and I decided to get it so I can read more instead of just paper books.

I ordered it through Souq instead since it’s owned by Amazon and in UAE which is next to Oman -my country- so it got delivered really fast. I never really used a Kindle device so the whole experience was new to me and I feel stupid that I didn’t research it enough to know it’s not your average tablet. The concept of the screen itself was new to me as I’m more used to colored screens so learning about E-Ink displays was very exciting to me. The battery of the device stays for about two to three weeks if I read 2 hours a day, the customization of your reading experience is pretty convenient and makes it more personalized. What I liked most about it is that, the screen doesn’t really strain your eyes like normal lit-type devices would. When I opened Kindle for the first time it offered me 6 months of free Kindle Unlimited subscription to try it out which was a great deal for me to refuse, it offered for me a large buffet of free books along with Amazon Prime ones that you can borrow for free as well. If you’re looking for an alternative to Kindle app that offers free Ebooks and audiobooks as well, I recommend reading this excellent post that explains Libby.

I consider Kindle to be my best purchase in 2018 because it sparked my love for reading once again and it helped me reach my daily goal of reading at least an hour a day.

 

OwlCrate – Find Me In The Forest

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I’m very sad to write this review because this is my last OwlCrate and it hurts that I had to cancel. I was considering donating some of my books so I could have more room for books on my shelves and then I could probably reactivate my subscription since it’s honestly my favorite subscription box. Anyway let’s get into this post, so October theme was Find Me In The Woods.

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Cabeswater Candle from In the Wick of Time

I’ll never say no to candles, I love collecting them for some reason. This candle is inspired by The Raven Cycle and it smells absolutely amazing, I didn’t think moss and mint would smell this good together.

Exclusive Harry Potter Mug from Cara Kozik

This is the first time OwlCrate sends a mug in their boxes and it’s gorgeous. I’m a Harry Potter fan so this made me so happy, the design illustrates the forbidden forest from Hagrid’s cottage with Buckbeak in the pumpkin fields then unicorn and the centaur, finally the Weasley’s flying car and Aragog the Arachnid. I’m in love with this and I instantly took it to my office so I can have my morning coffee with it.

Princess Mononoke Art Print by Audra Auclair

I’m so happy they included a Ghibli related item, this print looks so amazing. I was so impressed by the designs of Audra Auclair, they are so beautiful so please if you have time just check them.

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Sherwood Forest Loose Tea from Riddle’s Tea Shop

Robin Hood was one the first anime I watched in Arabic dub, reading the name of this tea made me happy for some reason. I’m not a tea blend fan but Earl Grey would be my favorite tea so I don’t mind trying this blend.

Magnetic Bookmarks From Craftedvan

I love Craftedvan designs, they are always too cute and adorable. These bookmarks are from Where the Wild Things Are and they are so cute.

Coaster Illustrated from Kristin Askland

A Mug, tea and a coaster in one box, thank you OwlCrate. This coaster is so beautiful, it goes well with the new mug and it’s a great addition for my office desk.

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As usual the book came with a lovely letter from the author and also a signed bookplate. Also a pack of seeds, it didn’t specify what sort of plants it’ll grow so it’s all a mystery.

and finally book of the month …

For nearly a century, the Nomeolvides women have tended the grounds of La Pradera, the lush estate gardens that enchant guests from around the world. They’ve also hidden a tragic legacy: if they fall in love too deeply, their lovers vanish. But then, after generations of vanishings, a strange boy appears in the gardens.

The boy is a mystery to Estrella, the Nomeolvides girl who finds him, and to her family, but he’s even more a mystery to himself; he knows nothing more about who he is or where he came from than his first name. As Estrella tries to help Fel piece together his unknown past, La Pradera leads them to secrets as dangerous as they are magical in this stunning exploration of love, loss, and family.

I actually love OwlCrate exclusive cover more than the original. The summary sounds so interesting and obviously I’m all about the magic part, I’ve read some reviews of this book to be a slow-burner so we’ll see how it goes when I start reading it.

Overall, this would be my favorite box in 2017 from OwlCrate. Everything in this box is perfect and I love it.

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