ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Bourke's Bookshelf: A walk on the wild side

This week's featured read is "House of Stars" by local author Jennifer Schultz.

Book in front of pumpkin
"House of Stars" by Jennifer Schultz.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch
We are part of The Trust Project.

For this week’s spooky season feature, we move away from the mystery genre and into the paranormal world of shapeshifters. Set in the woods of Duluth and the vast wilderness of Yellowstone National Park is a tale of people who aren’t just ordinary people and wolves who are more than wild beasts.

Theresa Bourke headshot

Released in 2021, “House of Stars” is the second by Pequot Lakes native Jennifer Schultz and the sequel to her first full-length novel, “Hearts of Prey.”

I’d recommend starting out with “ Hearts of Prey ” to get to know Shaka Reed, a 20-something woman striving for a sense of belonging when she feels so alone in the world with her supernatural ability. Shaka and her grandfather can both shapeshift into wolves, and they don’t know anyone else like them.

‘House of Stars’ by Jennifer Schultz

After facing serious, life-threatening — and life-altering — trials in the first novel, Shaka is back for another story. She’s trying to figure out where she belongs in a world that isn’t made for people like her. Her wolf side wants to run free in the great outdoors, and she found the rugged terrain of Yellowstone National Park calling to her while on a road trip out to California.

But her human side still enjoys city life and the connections she has with her family, her best friend and her boyfriend, Adrian, even if he doesn’t fully understand the wild wolf within her.

ADVERTISEMENT

That’s why Shaka is so incredibly conflicted when she learns of a whole pack of wolf shifters living in a commune deep within Yellowstone, where they’re essentially free to shift when they want and embrace their inner wolves as they please. She finally feels a sense of belonging — people who understand her to her core and aren’t judgmental when she comes in from a run, covered in dirt and maybe even animal blood. In fact, they’re right there with her.

Two book covers in front of pumpkins
"Hearts of Prey" and "House of Stars" are two sequential novels written by Pequot Lakes native Jennifer Schultz.
Tim Speier / Brainerd Dispatch

But still, Shaka doesn’t know if the pack life is for her and if she wants to be bound by the alpha’s rules, even if that alpha is a tall, muscular blond with piercing eyes and a captivating, wild manner. He’s so different from Adrian and already shares something so intimate with Shaka.

As Shaka’s inner turmoil persists, so does that of her friend, Rena, who we learn a lot more about in the second novel. Rena has paranormal powers, too. She can see people’s thoughts just by touching their hand, and can send the history of an object by picking it up. But her powers are beginning to overwhelm her, as is her deep sense of loneliness.

This week's featured read is "Angle of Declination" by Deerwood couple Doug and Sally Mayfield.
Barb Mack published "The Hand I've Been Dealt: A Life Lived with Epilepsy" in November.
This week's featured read is "The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue" by V.E. Schwab.
This month's feature read is "The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo" by Taylor Jenkins Reid.
My first read of 2023 is "Josie and Vic" by Debra Thomas.
I read 65 books in 2022. I think I set my original goal around 52 — one a week — but surprisingly found myself ahead of schedule early in the year.
This week's featured read is "Sundays at Tiffany's" by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet.
This month's featured holiday read is "Deck the Halls," a collaboration between mother-daughter writers Mary and Carol Higgins Clark.
This week's feature holiday read is "The Christmas Quilt" by Thomas J. Davis.
The book signing will be 3-6 p.m.
This week's holiday feature is "A Killer's Christmas in Wales" by Elizabeth J. Duncan.
This week's Nonfiction November feature is "Hundred Miles to Nowhere" by local author Elisa Korenne.
This week's Nonfiction November feature is "Into the Wild" by Jon Krakauer.
This week's Nonfiction November read is the 2022 memoir "Beyond the Wand: The Magic and Mayhem of Growing Up a Wizard" by Tom Felton.
This week's featured author is Crosby writer Joan Hasskamp and her memoir "We Don't Care Who Wins as Long as Joan Loses."
This week's spooky features are the short-story anthology "Minnesota Not So Nice" and J.K. Rowling's "The Ickabog."
This week's spooky reads are "The Quarry Girls" by Jess Lourey and R.L Stine's Goosebumps SlappyWorld series.
Many book genres are available including fiction, biography, westerns, history, cooking, crafts, children and young adults. There are hardcovers and softcovers and series by familiar authors.
This week's featured novel is "Eagles Cove" by Elke Sinclair, a writing duo from Minnesota.
This week's banned book feature is "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings" by Maya Angelou.
This week's banned book feature is "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas.
This week's banned and challenged book is "The Handmaid's Tale" by Margaret Atwood.
This week's featured banned book is Toni Morrison's "The Bluest Eye," No. 8 on the American Library Association's list of Top 10 most banned and challenged books in 2021.
"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close" by Jonathan Safran Foer is No. 55 on the American Library Association's 100 most frequently banned and challenged books from 2010-19.
A world with book censorship is one I don't want to live in. Join me this month in my quest to read frequently banned and challenged books.
Your donations of coupons, prizes and monetary support were a wonderful way to reward the kids for reading and kept them excited about it throughout the summer.
This week's reads include "The Search for the Homestead Treasure" by Ann Treacy, "Run, Rose, Run" by Dolly Parton and James Patterson and "Crave" by Tracy Wolff.
The "Ty-brary" is in memory of Tyler Walsh, a recovering addict who died in a motorcycle crash last year.
This week's reads include "Black and Blue" by Frank Weber, "The Invisible Library" by Genevieve Cogman and "A Million Little Pieces" by James Frey.
This week’s reads include “A Comedian Walks into a Funeral Home” by Dennis Kelly, “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini and “By the Book” by Jasmine Guillory.

The third person narrative shifts focus back and forth between Shaka and Rena, as each woman longs to be understood and loved.

I found the storylines in “House of Stars” just as engaging as those in “Hearts of Prey,” and I sped through the book nearly as quickly. I appreciated the ending, which I felt both satisfied my curiosities about Shaka’s future and opened the world up to a whole new story that I can’t wait to read.

For a story complete with supernatural beings, thrilling twists and a little bit of romance, I highly suggest checking out Schultz’s works.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .

Related Topics: BOOKS
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
What To Read Next
Lakes Area Music Festival will present the program “Minerva of the North” on Sunday, Feb. 5, at Trinity Lutheran in Brainerd. The event will feature baroque instrumental and vocal repertoire.
The actor, known for portraying Shirley Feeney on the "Happy Days" spinoff died Jan. 25 after a brief illness, her family said.
“Living” is a new drama starring English actor Bill Nighy a veteran civil servant who receives a terminal diagnosis from his doctor and decides to live it up with the help of a plucky young woman.
Both sides will try to make the other side look worse but it appears there is plenty of stink everywhere.