Friday, April 28, 2023

Little Free Library Sightings

 It's always fun to see a Little Free Library "out in the wild!"  I didn't think there were that many near me, but I've actually found quite a few nearby!  It's fun to spot them, browse their selection, leave a book if possible, and then look them up on the official website, because sometimes they have fun stories to go along with them!  There's also an app you can download to find local Little Free Libraries - you can even "check in" to keep track of the ones you've visited!  Here are a couple I've visited recently:

I spotted this one in a local park, right next to a large playground/play area for kids, when we took Henry out one evening.  I don't think it's an "official" LFL because I couldn't find it on their map, but it was fun to see, nonetheless!  It was donated by a local Girl Scout Troop, which is just an awesome project to take on!  It was full of books, mostly older ones it looked like (and quite a few Maeve Binchy books, funny enough!), and although I didn't take anything, it's nice to know this one exists, especially since this is a park we will be frequenting often.
LFL #42820 is actually around the corner from my mom's old house.  I love the little bench next to the library!  It had a good selection of books, for all ages, and I actually grabbed two board books featuring dinosaurs for Henry, while leaving a book behind.  This one has a great story behind it - the stewards were visiting their son in Illinois when they came across an LFL.  When they Googled what it was, they fell in love with how the nonprofit is spreading a love of reading and were inspired to start their own at home.  They built their own library as a summer project, which also turned out to be the first LFL in my town!
LFL #67327 is located on a beautiful, quiet, tree-lined street.  I stopped there early one morning after dropping Henry off at daycare.  This one was also full of books and had a wide variety of stories.  I left a book and grabbed a fairly recent romance novel, which, when I got home, I realized I had already read!
LFL #94912 is on a main road, which might make parking difficult at times, but there's also a sidewalk, which is perfect for people just strolling by.   I must have driven by this one dozens of times before I noticed it, but I'm glad I finally did!  It's pretty close to the above library, so I stopped by the same morning.  As you can see, it is also full of books, and I left a book while also taking a middle grade/YA book, maybe for my niece someday!  Also, not to be a creeper, but check out that house behind it - so pretty!
Have you visited a Little Free Library recently?

Monday, April 24, 2023

Michele's Monday Picks #13

Angela is so generous to let me pop in with a new little series, Michele’s Monday Picks! I’m not a blogger or bookstagrammer, but I love getting excited about new releases with the rest of you. Here I’ll be sharing new books I’m really looking forward to! 

The Duchess Takesa Husband

By Harper St. George

Expected Publication: May 23, 2023

From Goodreads:

A scandalous arrangement between a London rogue and an American duchess leads to lavish stakes.

Despite her illustrious title, Camille, Duchess of Hereford, remains what she has always been—a pariah. Though her title means she’s technically accepted by London Society, the rebellious widow with her burgeoning interest in the suffrage movement and her American ways isn’t exactly high on every hostess’s guest list. But Camille starts to wonder if being an outcast is not without its perks when the tantalizing answer to her secret fear appears in the shape of Jacob Thorne, the illegitimate son of an earl and co-owner of London’s infamous Montague Club.

Jacob is used to making deals with his club members—he’s just not accustomed to them being beautiful women. Nor have the terms ever been so sweetly seductive as Camille’s shocking proposition. To finally buy his own club and gain the crucial backing of investors, Camille offers Jacob the respectability of a fake engagement with a duchess. In return, the tempting widow has one condition: she wants Jacob to show her if it’s possible for her to experience pleasure in bed.

The lure of such a bargain proves too delicious to resist, drawing the enterprising rogue and the wallflower duchess into a scandalous game and an even more dangerous gamble of the heart.

This series has been such a treat - do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, April 21, 2023

Quick Reviews

 Heard It In A Love Song by Tracey Garvis Graves (2021)

Layla, a former lead singer in a rock band, is now in her mid-30s, recently divorced, and an elementary school music teacher.  Josh's daughter is in her class, and he is recently separated.  Could there be something more between them?  I have mixed feelings about this story.  On the one hand, I appreciate the simplicity and realness of the plot.  There's no crazy drama, no ridiculous situations, just two people getting out of long-term relationships and trying to figure out what they want in life and what their next step will be.  Navigating dating apps, trying to recapture old passions - there's so much to relate to here.  On the other hand, if the plot is going to be so simple, the writing needs to be stellar, and I didn't feel it was.  It was bland and underwhelming, and I hate to say it, but I was bored at times.  3 stars

Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney (2022)

Daisy Darker and her family reunite at her grandmother's house for her 80th birthday, but over the course of one night, Nana and several other family members are murdered.  The remaining members have to face their pasts and long-held secrets in order to survive.  First, I kind of accidentally spoiled one of the big twists of the book for myself, which I highly advise against - I would love to know how I would have read the book differently had I known.  Also, the blurb references Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None, which is a total spoiler for another twist, so I was disappointed in that.  I thought the book was a bit overwritten at times - Daisy is constantly spitting out these flowery, cliched statements - but the back and forth between past and present was very intriguing, as we find out more about Daisy's childhood and her relationship with her family.  I haven't read a thriller in a while, and this was a decent one to start with.  The setting, this crumbling estate that you can only reach during certain tides, was pretty incredible!  3.5 stars

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Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Can't-Wait Wednesday: The Spectacular

Can't-Wait Wednesday is hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

Fiona Davis
Expected publication date: June 13, 2023
New York Times bestselling author Fiona Davis transports us back to 1950s Manhattan and the glamorous Radio City Music Hall. . . .

New York City, 1956: Nineteen-year-old Marion is over the moon to have been selected to be one of the Rockettes, Radio City Music Hall’s glamorous precision-dancing troupe. It’s an honor to perform in the world’s most spectacular theater, an art deco masterpiece. But with four shows a day as well as grueling rehearsals, not to mention exacting standards of perfection to live up to, Marion quickly realizes that the life of a Rockette has both extraordinary highs and devastating lows.

Then one night a bomb explodes in the theater. It’s only the latest in a string of explosions around the city orchestrated by a person the press has nicknamed the "Big Apple Bomber." They have been terrorizing the citizens of New York for sixteen years by planting bombs in popular, crowded spaces. With the public in an uproar over the lack of any real leads after a yearslong manhunt, the police, at Marion’s urging, turn in desperation to a radical new technique: psychological profiling.

As Marion finds herself pulled deeper into the investigation, she realizes that as much as she’s been training herself to blend in—performing in perfect unison with all the other identical Rockettes—if she hopes to catch the bomber, she’ll need to stand out and take a terrifying risk. But she may be forced to sacrifice everything she’s worked for, as well as the people she loves the most. - from Goodreads

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Jigsaw Puzzles


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is a non-book freebie.  One of my favorite hobbies, besides reading, is doing jigsaw puzzles.  I've been especially into 500 piece puzzles because that's about how much my brain can handle right now!  Here are some of my favorite recent puzzles.




For even more 500 piece puzzles, check out my list here!

Do you enjoy jigsaw puzzles?

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Friday, April 14, 2023

Fiction/Nonfiction Quick Reviews: The Bling Edition

 Gilt by Jamie Brenner (2022)

The Pavlin family has been known for decades for their beautiful jewelry, especially their diamond engagement rings, but the family is torn apart over a rare diamond.  Now, Gemma, a Pavlin granddaughter, wants her late mother's ring back, and she'll have to reconcile with her two aunts to get the answers she's been looking for.  Brenner is so good at crafting multigenerational stories that feature long-held secrets, and this was no exception.  She creates these families and businesses that feel so real - like I could open a magazine and see an ad for Pavlin & Co today.  I could have done without the romantic drama that Gemma and her two aunts all seemed to face, leaving the focus on the family itself, but I did enjoy the setting of Provincetown.  It's clear that it's a place close to Brenner's heart, because she describes it so well.  The secrets that are revealed over the course of the book made me want to keep reading, although at times it felt like there was too much going on with each character, making the story lose focus a bit.  3.5 stars

The Cartiers: The Untold Story of the Family Behind the Jewelry Empire by Francesca Cartier Brickell (2021)

Researched and written by a Cartier family member, this book tells the history of the famed jewelry brand, from its humble Parisian beginnings to its global presence, with a prominent focus on the Cartier family itself.  Cartier is such a recognizable name and brand, I was very interested to learn more about the company and its famous jewels.  Cartier was, first and foremost, a family business, run by four generations, with the bulk of its success coming during the reign of three brothers in the 20th century.  Using newly-found letters, extensive interviews, and other research, Brickell crafts a highly engaging narrative (I especially enjoyed the quotes from her grandfather).  The book is quite long and felt at times like maybe every single memory or story didn't need to be included, but overall it was very readable and very entertaining.  You'll get to know the Cartier family very well, as well as learn about the company in the context of wider global events - and of course, many celebrities make an appearance.  I wish there were more color pictures of the jewels, because they were beautiful!  4 stars

* This post contains affiliate links; I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.

Tuesday, April 11, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: I Love You Beary Much


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is titles or covers with animals.  My mind immediately went to children's books, because they very often feature cute animals, and we seem to come across bears quite a lot, which is fitting because that's one of Henry's (many) nicknames!  So, here are some adorable covers showcasing bears!




Have you read any of these?  What are your favorite animals to see in picture books?

* This post contains affiliate links; I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Michele's Monday Picks #12

Angela is so generous to let me pop in with a new little series, Michele’s Monday Picks! I’m not a blogger or bookstagrammer, but I love getting excited about new releases with the rest of you. Here I’ll be sharing new books I’m really looking forward to! 


 Fourth Wing

By Rebecca Yarros

Expected publication: May 2, 2023


From Goodreads:

Enter the brutal and elite world of a war college for dragon riders from USA Today bestselling author Rebecca Yarros

Twenty-year-old Violet Sorrengail was supposed to enter the Scribe Quadrant, living a quiet life among books and history. Now, the commanding general—also known as her tough-as-talons mother—has ordered Violet to join the hundreds of candidates striving to become the elite of Navarre: dragon riders.

But when you’re smaller than everyone else and your body is brittle, death is only a heartbeat away...because dragons don’t bond to “fragile” humans. They incinerate them.

With fewer dragons willing to bond than cadets, most would kill Violet to better their own chances of success. The rest would kill her just for being her mother’s daughter—like Xaden Riorson, the most powerful and ruthless wingleader in the Riders Quadrant.

She’ll need every edge her wits can give her just to see the next sunrise.

Yet, with every day that passes, the war outside grows more deadly, the kingdom's protective wards are failing, and the death toll continues to rise. Even worse, Violet begins to suspect leadership is hiding a terrible secret.

Friends, enemies, lovers. Everyone at Basgiath War College has an agenda—because once you enter, there are only two ways out: graduate or die.

I have really loved Rebecca’s contemporary romances and am so excited to see her branch out into fantasy!

Do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, April 7, 2023

Quick Reviews

 Upgrade by Blake Crouch (2022)

In the near future, gene modification and editing are possible but highly regulated.  Logan Ramsey works for a government agency that fights against illegal gene editing.  During a raid gone wrong, Logan is hit with shrapnel in an explosion and later told he has been infected with a virus.  Soon, he notices both physical and mental changes far beyond his imagination.  His DNA has been rewritten in an "upgrade," but who would do this, and why?  This sets up a fast-moving thriller as we follow Logan and find out the answers to these questions.  I love Crouch's novels; I always find them to be perfectly (and quickly) paced - the reveals keep coming.  You won't want to stop reading anyway, because even though the science-y bits get a little dense, you'll want to know what's coming next and how Logan will respond.  I don't want to give too much away, because it really is a treat to immerse yourself in the story.  It brings up some interesting questions about our humanity and what makes us who we are.  4.5 stars

The Wedding Veil by Kristy Woodson Harvey (2022)

A dual timeline story that focuses on Julia and her grandmother Babs in the present day and Edith and Cornelia Vanderbilt in the past, as the four women forge their own lives, briefly connected by a wedding veil.  I have to admit, I was disappointed in this story.  I was expecting much more of a focus on the wedding veil, its ties to the families, and how they were connected, but there were only brief mentions of it and the connection turns out to be very obvious and poorly executed.  I found myself not caring at all about Julia and her grandmother; Julia is a runaway bride and Babs is trying to move forward in her life after her husband's death.  There were just far too many coincidences and happy accidents, it made the story so unbelievable.  In the past, Edith and Cornelia have to learn to take care of themselves after their husband/father's death.  I was much more intrigued by the Vanderbilt storyline, especially as parts of it take place at the iconic Biltmore, although since it happens over such a long period of time, it felt very scattered.  Overall, the story lacked focus and some of the characters and their situations felt contrived.  3 stars

* This post contains affiliate links; I earn a small commission on qualifying purchases, at no cost to you.

Tuesday, April 4, 2023

Top Ten Tuesday: Indie Authors

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly feature hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl.  This week's topic is indie/self-published books.  Since my sister Michele is basically an indie aficionado, she is taking over this week!


Indie authors are such a gem to the publishing industry. There are some really great talents out there and they tend to have such great interaction with their readers. I read a lot of indie authors and I’ll try to narrow down my top ten!

Penny Reid – author of the beloved series Knitting in the City and the Winston Brothers. She also has her own publishing imprint, Smartypants Romance.

Melanie Harlow – Small town romance in series such Cloverleigh Farms and Bellamy Creek.

Devney Perry – Small town romance almost exclusively set in Montana.