Are there zero waste shops in Ithaca, NY? A guide for shopping responsibly in a city that's supposed to be green.
(Disclaimer: this post may contain affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase).
When I first moved to Ithaca, NY around thirteen years ago, I was impressed by the amount of eco-conscious people in this small college town. Ithaca has a reputation for attracting hippie liberals, so naturally it seems like there should be at least one zero waste shop here, right? Well, there aren't any zero waste shops such as one might find in New York City and other places, but there are some specialty shops that are mostly zero waste. There are also ample options for those of you interested in supporting shops that are at least low waste. I have compiled a list of some of the best shops serving those who follow a simple living, zero waste lifestyle. Each recommendation is ranked on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being extremely wasteful and ten generating the least amount of waste possible. I have also listed categories of shops, with recommended shops under each category. For this reason, some shops might appear in more than one category.
GUIDE TO ZERO WASTE SHOPPING IN ITHACA, NY.
ZERO WASTE GROCERY OPTIONS:
1. GreenStar Natural Foods Market. GreenStar seems to be the favorite shopping place of the eco-conscious consumers here in Ithaca. It has a wonderful selection of organic and local produce, bulk items, health food items, and natural beauty items. GreenStar encourages people to bring their own bags. They offer paper bags, cardboard boxes, and non-plastic bags made from some sort of plant material. They do, however, stock products which come in plastic containers, and their made-in-deli items are also packaged in plastic. They try to offer low waste options, such as having actual plates, glasses, silverware, and bamboo utensils in their seating area to encourage customers to eat their meals in store rather than packaging in plastic to take away. They also have an amazing selection of bulk items. I haven't noticed many people bringing their own containers for the bulk items, though. Most people seem to use the provided paper (or even plastic) bags provided next to the bulk section. Zero Waste Ranking: 7 out of 10.
2. Brookton's Market. This adorable, rural shop isn't technically in Ithaca (it's in Brooktondale), but it's still in the general Ithaca area. This is by far my favorite shop/market. They don't have a huge selection, but what they have is always nicely presented. There are no plastic shopping baskets. Instead, there are actual wicker baskets in the produce aisle. They also offer delicious sandwiches, soups, salads, an amazing selection of tea and coffee, and they recently added a bar, so you can sit down with your pint of beer. It reminds me of some of my favorite pubs in England, as it really is a gathering place for the local community. It's the perfect low waste country store/café/market. Zero Waste Ranking: 7 out of 10.
3. P&C Grocery. This grocery definitely generates much more waste than either Brookton's Market or GreenStar, but they have been improving recently. They have started stocking many more locally grown produce, and even grains grown by local farms. They don't have many bulk items, but they do have a deli where you can request to use your own jars and containers for the items. You have to be careful at the checkout. They try to sneak in plastic bags, even when you bring your own bags. I'm constantly having to remind them that I don't want anything in plastic bags. They do stock some natural beauty items, including a selection of products by a local brand--packaged in glass and paper. Zero Waste ranking: 4 out of 10.
4. Wegmans. I'm still shocked and overwhelmed every time I find myself in Wegmans. This grocery is enormous! I try to avoid it as much as possible, but they do have the best selection of products, including a decent bulk section (well sections, as they are scattered throughout the store). If you bring your own containers, and choose items from their natural foods and beauty section, it is possible to get through the store without picking up too many items packaged in wasteful plastic. Zero Waste ranking: 5 out of 10.
5. Ithaca Farmer's Market. This is by far the best option during the warm seasons. I believe there is a winter Saturday market in the Space across from GreenStar, and the rest of year it is possible to shop at the Farmer's Market most days. I believe there is a market on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday. Check the website for the various locations and times. I absolutely love shopping at the farmer's market. Most people know to bring their own bags, so there is very little waste. The food vendors provide compostable containers, but you can also bring your own container. I have even seen people bringing their own plate, or bowl. You could even purchase a beautiful, handmade clay bowl and then use it right away when you visit one of the food vendors. One of my recommendations for amazing, wholesome food is Marco Mamas. Zero Waste ranking: 10 out of 10! The best!
Zero Waste Clothing:
Mama Goose. This is a fantastic hshop for mama and child items. They carry secondhand children's toys and clothes, as well as some new items by eco-friendly brands. They also have a selection o maternity clothing and products for mamas. I also love buying my soap from them. They stock two zero waste soap brands, one is made locally and the other is Sappo Hill. I love Sappo Hill jasmine soap and even use it as a shampoo bar from time to time. I tend to buy most of my son's clothes from this shop, and have even found some amazing clothing from the maternity section, like my tweed coat I wear during the autumn and winter months (you can't even tell it's meant to be a maternity coat). This shop gets a Zero Waste ranking of 8 out of 10.
Plato's Closet. This is hands down the best secondhand clothing shop in Ithaca (for men's and women's clothing). They only stock items which look practically new, and I have often found items that are still new with tags. It's mostly name brand clothing, such as Free People. I find it's a great option when you want clothing that is well made, but don't feel comfortable buying new items and supporting fast fashion. It really is a wonderful way of supporting slow fashion. If you can't afford eco-conscious and ethical brands, try to shop secondhand shops and look for quality items. Zero Waste ranking: 7 out of 10.
Petrune. This is a wonderful vintage clothing shop, but they also have new items that are inspired by past-times. They can be a bit pricey, but I have found some amazing and affordable vintage items in this shop. Zero Waste ranking: 8 out of 10.
Jillian's Drawers. This is such a fantastic mother and child shop. They are a staple in the Ithaca community. Besides offering secondhand items and new, sustainable items, Jillian's Drawers had a community room for classes and events. The clothing in this shop is mostly for kids 4 and under, and for mamas, but what they do have is excellent. I can also recommend their cloth diaper service. I participated in this program when my kid was a baby, and it was fantastic. The staff are friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable. It's one of my favorite shops ever. I rank them 9 out of 10 in zero waste.
Household items and furniture:
Mimi's Attic. This shop is located in the same building as Mama Goose, and is considered its sister store. They carry beautiful household items- from furniture, to linen towels, to adorable succulents. They also offer pickup and delivery, so if you have lots of items you want to sell or buy it's worth it to look into this option to save you the hassle of renting a van. Zero Waste ranking: 8 out of 10.
Found. Do you love antiques? This is the best antique store in Ithaca. It has amazing furniture, household items, and even jewelry. I'd recommend allowing enough time to browse, because it is a bit overwhelming. It's absolutely packed with amazing antiques. Zero Waste ranking: 8 out of 10.
East Hill Antiques. This is such a charming, little antique shop. It doesn't have a lot of furniture, but it has lots of household items, curiosities, plants, and even some vintage clothing. Zero Waste ranking: 8 out of 10.
Natural beauty products.
Green Star is my go-to place for natural beauty and wellness products. Their beauty and wellness department is fairly low waste, as they offer shampoo and other products in bulk--encouraging customers to bring their own containers. They have a great selection of zero waste soaps, local products in glass jars, natural makeup, and other items. I rank them as 9 out of 10 in zero waste.
Bramble. I absolutely love this shop. They offer herbal medicine consultations as well as stocking bulk herbs and products made by local herbalists. It's a great shop if you are looking to make your own products, but also wonderful if you want really amazing pre-made items too. I would rank them 10 out of 10 in zero waste.
If you live in Ithaca, or are traveling through, I hope you will choose to support some of these shops. Some of them are more zero waste friendly than others, but each of them offers at least some zero waste options. If you can think of any I need to add to the list, let me know. I'll update this post as I discover new shops.
I've been dressing in a capsule wardrobe for around two years now, and while I have enjoyed the challenge and have refined my style because of it, I have been struggling lately to feel pulled together. I've been working from home for the most part this winter, so there are days when I don't make an effort with my appearance--preferring to remain in comfortable yoga pants all day! (That's all too easy to do when I live like a hermit)
I have noticed a lot of capsule wardrobe challenges floating around on Instagram lately, such as the 10x10 capsule wardrobe challenge started by Style Bee and project 333 but none that fit with what I want to accomplish at the moment. It's too early in the season (still winter here in the Northeast folks) for me to switch to a spring capsule wardrobe, but because I grew up in warmer climates and think that it SHOULD be spring now, I am desperate to infuse a bit of spring fashion into my existing wardrobe. I know the weather here in so unpredictable, and who knows how long it will be before spring actually arrives, so I decided to attempt a 14 day challenge. Do you want to join me? Starting on March 14, for 14 days I will dress in a 14-piece capsule wardrobe. I am limiting myself to 14 pieces total (including jewelry and shoes, but not including my winter necessaries like heavy coat and hats and mittens). I will try to post a daily update in my Instagram story and will share a wrap-up post at the end of the challenge. Tag your posts with #14springcapsule so we can share our experiences.
I haven't chosen my 14 items for this 14 days of spring capsule wardrobe yet, but I'm having fun thinking about what I want to include. I'm drawn to softer colors lately--warm soft reds and corals, soft camel and beige, warm pink. The idea is to use items that I already own, and to use this challenge as a way for making note of what I may need to replace when it is time for me to curate my spring capsule wardrobe. I'm trying to wear items I love until they are worn out, and then to replace them with similar items by slow fashion brands. After two years of dressing this way, I have a better idea of which items I actually love. Now I can choose to spend more money on good quality items instead of constantly buying cheaper items that end up worn out super fast.
I listed some of my favorite slow fashion brands in this post if you want to know where I will be shopping for some of my spring items at the end of this challenge. I'm hoping I won't need to buy much for spring. It'll be good to sort through my wardrobe though, and to finally pack away the winter clothes I know I want to keep.
One of my main style inspirations lately is Cassidy of @life_simplified whose simple, effortless, earthy style is wonderful! I've also been curating boards on Pinterest, to help keep on track of my evolving style. My spring wardrobe one is here if you want to see my style inspirations.
I hope you join me in this March 2019 capsule wardrobe challenge of dressing in 14 items for 14 days. It starts on March 14, 2019, but if this challenge benefits you feel free to adapt it and start it at any time. I look forward to seeing your #14springcapsule posts.
297! 297! That's the number of unread messages in the primary folder of my email. When I started my blogging and Instagram journey, I anticipated many hours of...well, connecting with others and writing. I didn't really give thought to how much of my time would be consumed by answering emails. How do you organize your emails, so that they don't get out of control? The thing is, the newsletters I subscribe to and really want to read often end up in the "promotions" folder of my Gmail account, while spam messages somehow find their way to my main messages folder. I do tend to delete these kinds of messages immediately, but as I was sick last week I rather got behind on checking emails. I've also reached that point where I'm receiving requests to review books by indie authors, and/or from publishers asking of my interest in reviewing soon-to-be-released books. I also receive offers to collaborate by brands (most WAY out of my areas of interest).
It's a new month, and I'm ready for a fresh start. I wish I could say I tackled all of those unread messages before February came to an end, but alas I did not. However, I'm determined to make this month flow a bit more easily. That requires more organization on my part.
So, first thing this morning (as I was drinking my morning tea and daydreaming about spring flowers), I decided one thing I could do to keep on top of things was to compile my March 2019 TBR list. There are some books I have committed to read and review this month, so naturally those made it to the list first. I thought it might be useful for you to read about my process for choosing my monthly tbr, and to share my own March 2019 reading list. This reading list and my explanations for why I chose these books, might serve as a guide for those of you hoping to compile a monthly tbr.
Oh, and as to all of those requests...I've decided that for now it's in my best interest to only respond to the ones I'm interested in. Once I get caught up, I'll try to go back and politely decline the offers that aren't the best fit for me. I welcome you to share any tips with me for organizing and responding to emails in a timely fashion, without getting overwhelmed. I'm all about simple living and embracing an Enchanted Simplicity lifestyle after all. I want to grow my business, but I also want to appreciate a slower lifestyle and spend time playing with my son and seeing the beauty and magic in the everyday.
My March 2019 Reading List:
I organized my list into categories. I know from experience that I tend to be a mood reader, so I wanted to include books I know I tend to enjoy re-reading this time of year, as well as some to consider in case I want to swap out some books. This gives me some flexibility, while still keeping me organized.
The books at the top of my list are the books which were gifted to me by the publishers. I am not obligated to read "The Guest Book" by Sarah Blake by a certain date, but I did feel like attempting to read it before it is released to the general public (publication date is May 7, 2019). The other gifted book is "The Beantown Girls" by Jane Healy. I collaborated with the lovely folks at Get Red PR on this one, so I am obligated to at least post about this book quite soon. It will be the first book I read this month.
I also ended up receiving an e-book from my library, which I had put on hold. That book is one I have been excited to read for so long. It is "Muse of Nightmares" by Laini Taylor. I loved "Strange The Dreamer" and can't wait to get started on this sequel.
"Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" is the book of the month for Maidens of Murder book club. I've been wanting to participate in this book club ever since I found out about it a few months back. I have read "Why Didn't They Ask Evans?" but years ago. I look forward to re-reading this book. Agatha Christie will always be among my favorite authors.
I received "Letters to My Daughter" by Maya Angelou when I was a rep for Capsule Books. I loved my experience with Capsule Books, but unfortunately wasn't able to finish this book at that time. I want to read it from beginning to end this time.
I started reading "Big Magic" a couple months ago. I knew when I picked it up that I wasn't going to read it quickly. I enjoy non-fiction, but lately I want to devour fiction books and just want non-fiction to fill in the gaps. I enjoy reading this book at a leisurely pace, perhaps reading a few pages a night before bed. I might try to finish it this month, but very likely it will end up on my tbr for next month too!
The last few books are ones I have already read (many times), but might wish to re-read this month if I have time. If I feel uninspired by my current read and find myself in a reading slump, it usually works for me to re-read old favorites in order to find my rhythm once more. I've included these books for that reason.
The last book I shared isn't really a book, but a collection of books. I joined NetGalley a while back, and have a few galleys I need to catch up on. I tend to choose my next read according to my mood, which is why I didn't list individual books.
I failed to mention my book for @faesoftheforest book club. This month we are supposed to read "Daughter of the Forest." I hope to receive my library copy soon.
As far as organizing my monthly tbr, I tend to make a list and then put the physical books in a basket. My Kindle e-reader remains in that same basket, so I can easily access my e-books from NetGalley, and/or library loans.
My process for choosing books for my monthly tbr:
1. Write down all of the books I have committed to review by a certain date. Are there any coming up that month? Add these to the top of the list on another page.
2. I am a mood reader and tend to read seasonally as well. I also tend to re-read favorites according to season. For example: "I Capture the Castle" is one of my favorite books. I enjoy re-reading it every year, and usually in the spring since the book begins in that season. Add seasonal books and books I know I will re-read that month or season to my list.
3. Are there library books that are due back soon? Add those books to the list.
So tell me, how do you organize your monthly tbr? Are you a mood reader like me? Do you feel better if you make a list and stick with it? I'd love to know. Share with me in the comments or come find me on Instagram.
It's no secret that I love nature, magic, and folklore; so when I won a giveaway hosted by the lovely Karen of Flower & Fable, I was ecstatic. I've been following Karen's Instagram page for quite awhile now, and am constantly impressed by her brand and everything it stands for.
I once lived in England, and still consider the British countryside to be HOME. Flower & Fable is inspired by Karen's own home base in Wales. She uses real botanical flowers, which she lost wax cast in sterling silver. She includes folkore about each flower too. Mine is of a gorse blossom, one of my very favorite plants. I always adored these cheerful yellow flowers, especially in the springtime when pregnant ponies devour the pina colada scented blossoms.
I have been curating seasonal capsule wardrobes for a couple years now, so it is important to me that every item I add to my wardrobe should be meaningful to me. This is a necklace I know I will always cherish. For one, it reminds me of my ancestral home. Secondly, it is my exact style. It is simple, elegant, nature inspired. Thirdly, it is made by someone I admire, whose way of being present in nature is similar to my own.
I chose the smaller sized pendant on a chain, but Karen also offers earrings, larger pendants, and bracelets. She even offers child-sized jewelry. Everything is beautifully packaged in a sustainable way too. There was no wasteful packaging to deal with.
I highly recommend this brand, and plan on purchasing more items from Flower & Fable. They would make lovely gifts for all sorts of occasions, or just to treat yourself! I have my eye on the motherhood bangle!
My gorse necklace is one of my everyday staples now, and will be included in my spring capsule wardrobe and my summer capsule wardrobe. I absolutely love it. I adore that one of the symbolic meanings of gorse is INDEPENDENCE. This is so appropriate, as I am working towards crafting my own, unique life. I'm weaving my own fate! This gorse blossom necklace will be a constant reminder that I am my own authority. Thank you dear Karen for sending it my way. Flower & Fable can be found on Instagram www.instagram.com/flower_and_fable/ and on the web www.flowerandfable.co.uk/
How to not go crazy when winter drags on. A slow living guide for appreciating winter as we transition to spring—Caitlin Gemmell.
In my corner of the world, on the top of a hill in a cold Northern place, winter is still howling and raging. Many of you are posting beautiful springtime photos of snowdrops, crocuses, and even daffodils. I admit I was feeling a tad resentful, and unhappy to be living in such a harsh climate. I grew up in warm and mild climates (Southern England and Oklahoma), so it’s easy for me to compare the first 18 years of my life with the past decade or so of living in the Northeastern USA, and to feel wistful for warmer places that actually get springtime weather.
But then, on a warmer day, I walked in the wood surrounding my house and I felt so much gratitude for the beautiful nature in my own backyard. We may only get a month of spring weather at the most, before summer arrives in a frenzy, but I sure feel appreciative of this winter wonderland.
So while some of you are out there enjoying mild weather and the first flowers of the season, I am still curled up in my winter nest with plenty of hot tea, warm blankets, and good books. Hygge living for the win! I might still crave spring as intensely as Rapunzel’s mother craved that green of the same name, but I have found ways to cope—to slow down and appreciate these final two months of winter.
If you find yourself in the same boat, or are just curious about my slow living tips, read on!
•Immerse yourself in a good book. I’ve been reading Katherine Arden’s Winternight Trilogy. I recently completed The Bear and the Nightingale and The Girl in the Tower. Both are set in medieval Russia and feature a Winter King. The winter scenes are so hauntingly beautiful. As I lose myself in these incredible fairytales, I find myself looking up at the snowy scene outside my own window. These books help me to appreciate winter again, if even just enough to make it bearable.
•Have an indoor picnic. Are you yearning for spring, but it’s still only 20 degrees Fahrenheit? How about creating an indoor picnic? My son and I did this today. I boiled some eggs, sliced some fruits and veggies, and made a thermos of tea. We spread our picnic blanket on the floor and had a lovely indoor picnic.
• Treat yourself to a facial, herbal bath, or foot soak. The hot water is so soothing and comforting when it’s bitterly cold outside. If you add fresh, floral essential oils you can pretend it’s spring for a moment.
• If you have seasonal capsule wardrobes like me, try to pack away some of your winter clothes and get out just a few spring pieces that you can layer with your winter clothes. I added some spring floral scarves to my wardrobe and packed away my heavy winter plaid scarves. It’s a simple change, but one that helps me embrace the spring feeling even when it’s too cold to fully dress in spring clothes.
•Get a bouquet of flowers from your local grocery, or try planting indoor bulbs (like paper whites). It’s so helpful having green, growing things indoors.
• Make tea, chocolate, or coffee in your most beautiful, extravagant cup and sip it slowly. Be present. Enjoy every single sip.
•Grab a pair of binoculars, bundle up, and go on a nature observation walk. Record how many plants you can identify, birds you spot, other wildlife you come across. Perhaps you will even see the first signs of spring.
• Keep a gratitude journal. I’ll be posting on Instagram about a month long gratitude journal challenge for the month of March. Want to join in? Stay tuned for more info, or join my email list to be notified when this challenge begins.
When I was a teenager, I had a huge walk-in closet jam-packed with random clothing items and yet I felt like I had nothing to wear. Sound familiar? Although my family was already embracing a greener lifestyle by eating organic food and using eco-friendly cleaning products, we were far from being conscious consumers.
It wasn’t until my early twenties when I moved to a forward thinking college town in the Northeastern USA that I really examined my lifestyle and decided to CHOOSE a better way.
Fast forward ten(ish) years and I’ve learned a lot about eco-friendly slow fashion, zero waste living, and have refined my style so it suits ME rather than what the conventional world thinks a “mompreneur” should look like.
I’ve been on this journey for many years now, but I still have a long way to go. It was only earlier last year that I swapped my recycled plastic toothbrush for a bamboo one after all. 🙊
Here are some tips for finding your signature style and making healthy, responsible fashion choices. I’m also sharing some of my favorite slow fashion brands (not sponsored, just ones I personally love).
•Step one: find your style! When I was younger I tended to like a hodgepodge of different styles. My closest was a mess! Nothing went with anything else. It’s only been the past few years that I’ve really refined my style and discovered what works for me. I recommend using Pinterest to start tracking the styles you like. When you start noticing a pattern make note of the key words used to describe those similar styles that keep cropping up on your style board. I noticed I like certain colors, textures, fabrics, asymmetrical cuts. I’ve learned that my style is mostly a blend of ethereal faerie with earthy eco-chic and British countryside. See if you can come up with some keywords for your style.
•Don’t buy ANY new clothes for three months. I know this seems difficult, but it will help you to notice what clothes you wear again and again. At the end of the three months donate all of the items you didn’t wear (keep items you didn’t wear but might need at some point —wedding guest dresses as an example. Only keep one or two of these every once in awhile items).
•Now that you have only items you love in your closet, make a list of what you need to fill it in. Try to stick to a cohesive color palette to make life simpler.
•Try to buy what you need from secondhand stores, or through clothing swaps to reduce waste. If you must buy new items try purchasing from slow fashion/eco fashion brands. If you buy out of season you can usually find things on sale.
Here are a list of some of my favorite brands.
Easy Living Hats. Olivia’s eco-friendly handmade hats are some of my wardrobe staples. I have one in dusty blue and one in poppy red. These hats last for years and years and are so stylish! Choose well-made, stylish items over poorly made trendy items always!
Easy Living Hats can be found on Instagram
Another slow fashion advocate I admire is Haley of Atonement Design. I have partnered with Haley in the past, but this post is in no way sponsored. Her work is really amazing and I highly recommend her jewelry. I have my eye on one of her dresses for summertime. A percentage of proceeds are donated to help stop human trafficking. Fashion with a cause? Yes please!
Atonement Design is also on Instagram
Another eco-clothing company I admire is Christy Dawn. They make small batches of dresses using deadstock—the discarded leftover fabric from fashion houses.
Hands down, the best shoe company I’ve found is Nisolo. They are sustainably made, elegant, chic, earthy, and made to last.
I LIVED in a Gaia Conceptions skirt for years, until it began to fall apart. I absolutely love the earthy elegance of Gaia Conceptions designs, the eco-friendly hemp fabric, and low impact dyes.
I’ll share some more favorites in my next newsletter. In the meantime, do you have any tips you’d like to share for living a sustainable lifestyle? Share your #enchantedsimplicity posts on Instagram.
*Thank you to St. Martin’s Press for gifting me a copy of “The Wartime Sisters.”*
”The Wartime Sisters” follows the lives of two Jewish sisters growing up in Brooklyn, and later at an armory in Springfield during WWII. Ruth is the practical, plain, older sister. Millie is their mother’s darling, the perfect child. Much of this book focuses on the complicated relationship between these two sisters, but there are also two other story lines involving the wife of the commanding officer at the armory and an Italian singer who works in the cafeteria.
Lynda Cohen Loigman provides just enough historical details to satisfy readers of historical fiction, but the focus is clearly about complicated family ties, the bonds of friendship, and solidarity between women. I found myself emotionally invested in the characters. This book was hard to put down. I think I read it in two sittings.
“The Wartime Sisters” is sure to satisfy one’s craving for a book about sisters and women’s issues that is firmly rooted in historical fiction as well.
This is was a solid 3⭐️ read!
(**Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that at no extra cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase. The book was gifted to me for review purposes.**)
The Clockmaker’s Daughter is a rich and layered book about the malleability of time. This story jumps back and forth across several different points in time. Each character seems of equal importance, but we discover early on that the main character is the clockmaker’s daughter, Birdie. This is the story of her life and death, sometimes told by her in first person narrative and at others by the people connected to her across time. It is a story of love, loss, and the connection between people and places.
Kate Morton explores that which is impalpable—time, light, ghosts. In one scene Birdie attempts to capture light in a tin, only to discover that light (like time) is elusive. The Clockmaker’s Daughter binds together characters who have experienced loss, have their own ghosts they carry with them. Some of these characters are artists or photographers, forever trying to capture the intangible. Others have experienced the deep ache of loss and are attempting to fill it.
Ar the center of the story is a place, Birchwood Manor. Every single main character has experienced this place, and perceived it to be magical in some way. This place is what connects the characters through the threads of time.
Once these tangled threads have been worked through, Birdie’s story is complete and the confused muddle evaporates.
This is was a deeply moving, meaningful book for anyone who has experienced loss or felt an intense pull towards a particular place or person.
Thank you to NetGalley and Atria Books for providing me with a free galley to review.
(***This post may contain affiliate links, meaning at no extra cost to you, I will earn a small commission if you click through and make a purchase.***)
Arden’s lyrical and sumptuous debut novel, The Bear and the Nightingale, transports readers to medieval Russia. History and folklore blend together seamlessly in this dark fairytale.
The story centers around Vasya, a girl who inherited her grandmother’s magical abilities. She lives with her father, four older siblings, and nurse in the harsh countryside where winter lasts most of the year. The fairy tales her nurse, Dunya, tells are only entertaining stories for everyone but Vasya. She has the ability to see and communicate with the nature and household spirits. Although the others can’t see these spirits, the old Pagan beliefs still linger, and offerings are left for them.
Everything changes when Vasya’s father returns from a visit to Moscow with a new bride, a woman who shares her ability to see the old Gods and spirits. Unlike Vasya, who sees them as friends, Anna perceives them to be evil. The new village priest bands together with Anna in an attempt to stamp out the old Pagan ways, forcing the villagers to ignore the local deities. This has terrible consequences. The once joyful villagers now live in fear, which the evil creature (known as the Bear) thrives on. Dark forces have awoken, the benevolent deities begin to fade away, and Vasya must use her powers to save her village.
This is a book to be savored. The pacing is slow, the main character compelling, and the language utterly enchanting. There were a few story threads that were left unfinished, and one can only hope that these will be explored in the sequel.
”Master of His Fate” is the first book in a new series by the well renowned author of historical fiction, Barbara Taylor Bradford. It centers around James Falconer, and Alexis Malvern. Their two story threads run parallel before seamlessly merging together. This was a character driven novel, set in Victorian London. It explored themes of sex, class, and coming of age. The characters were lovable, if a bit too perfect. This is the perfect “escape from reality” book—as every single main and secondary character were noble, just, and charmingly captivating. There were a few unpleasant incidents, but mainly everything turned out perfect for every character with little to vex them.
The historical details were fascinating, adding a rich layer to the book, and were obviously well thought out. The mention of some famous people of the time also helped bring the book to life.
The initial promise of delving into some vital feminist issues, which are just as valid today, fizzled out. It would have been an important book, rather than just an entertaining one, had these issues and story threads been more fully developed.
“Master of His Fate” was an engaging, richly executed work of historical fiction. I look forward to the next book in the series.
**Thank you to St. Martin’s Press and Get Red PR for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
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This page is used to inform website visitors regarding our policies with the collection, use, and disclosure of Personal Information if anyone decided to use our Service, the Enchanted Simplicity website.
Information Collection and Use
For a better experience while using our Service, we may require you to provide us with certain personally identifiable information, including but not limited to your name, phone number, and postal address. The information that we collect will be used to contact or identify you.
We want to inform you that whenever you visit our Service, we collect information that your browser sends to us that is called Log Data. This Log Data may include information such as your computer’s Internet Protocol ("IP") address, browser version, pages of our Service that you visit, the time and date of your visit, the time spent on those pages, and other statistics.
Cookies are files with small amount of data that is commonly used an anonymous unique identifier. These are sent to your browser from the website that you visit and are stored on your computer’s hard drive.
Our website uses these "cookies" to collection information and to improve our Service. You have the option to either accept or refuse these cookies, and know when a cookie is being sent to your computer. If you choose to refuse our cookies, you may not be able to use some portions of our Service.
We may employ third-party companies and individuals due to the following reasons:
- To facilitate our Service;
- To provide the Service on our behalf;
- To perform Service-related services; or
- To assist us in analyzing how our Service is used.
We want to inform our Service users that these third parties have access to your Personal Information. The reason is to perform the tasks assigned to them on our behalf. However, they are obligated not to disclose or use the information for any other purpose.
We value your trust in providing us your Personal Information, thus we are striving to use commercially acceptable means of protecting it. But remember that no method of transmission over the internet, or method of electronic storage is 100% secure and reliable, and we cannot guarantee its absolute security.
Links to Other Sites
Our Services do not address anyone under the age of 13. We do not knowingly collect personal identifiable information from children under 13. In the case we discover that a child under 13 has provided us with personal information, we immediately delete this from our servers. If you are a parent or guardian and you are aware that your child has provided us with personal information, please contact us so that we will be able to do necessary actions.