Friday, May 31, 2024

Little Free Library Sightings: The Jersey Shore Edition, Part 2

I know I shared some LFL sightings just a couple weeks ago, but we recently took a trip to Cape May, New Jersey, where there is an absolute wealth of Little Free Libraries!  I visited and featured several last year, and this year I came prepared with a bag of books I wanted to donate.  Here are the ones we visited on this trip:

#171625 - This LFL is called the Buoy Coffee Shop Library and is located, you guessed it, right outside the Buoy Coffee Shop!  The coffee shop/LFL owner writes, "I opened The Buoy Coffee Shop in April 2023 and have had many customers ask where to find the closest bookshop for books to read while enjoying coffee or a day at the beach. I decided this little path to the beach would be a great spot for my first little free library and a great way for visitors to have access to books for children and adults. We have even added a little spot for shared beach toys! Visit us at The Buoy Coffee Shop!"  This is such a fun idea and since the coffee shop is located practically on the beach, it's so perfect for beachgoers!  I left a book and took a book for Henry, who, as you can see, loved the addition of the beach toys at the bottom!
#116160 - This LFL, called Kathleen's Library, is located on one of the main roads in Cape May.  It's a cute little blue library that I only quickly stopped at because it was raining.  I left a book but didn't take anything.
#171896 - This LFL was located about half a mile down the street from where we were staying, so while Henry napped one afternoon, I took a walk down there.  Their story says, "We love all sorts of books, especially children’s books. Our library is run by four children who love to read."  I love that this library is a project for the family's children!  I left, of course, a children's book and grabbed a book for Henry, one that is actually on my library wishlist for him!
#177803 - The Inn Library is located not far from the previous library, so I decided to take a detour and visit it during my walk, as well.  This library was quite large and matched the house behind it!  It was well-stocked with several big name authors (Harlan Coben, David Baldacci, Isabel Allende), which was really cool to see.  I didn't have another book to drop off, but I did grab a book by Kate Quinn.
#105307 - This LFL is actually located at the Cape May County Park & Zoo!  What a perfect location for a library, because so many people pass by it on a daily basis, whether they are going to the zoo or one of the other attractions in the park.  I left a book but didn't take anything.


















#141973 - The Little Free Library at Seaview is located in Wildwood Crest.  Last year we visited an LFL in Wildwood which I thought was the only one on the island, so I'm wondering if this one is new.  Either way, we stopped by this one after a couple hours at the boardwalk.  I thought this looked so cute in its planter.  I left a book but didn't take anything.


 

And finally, these are two unregistered libraries that we came across during our walks around Cape May!  The first one is one Tom actually found and he sent me a picture of it, then he brought me to it later that day.

  

Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Can't-Wait Wednesday: A Happier Life

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

Kristy Woodson Harvey
Expected publication date: June 25, 2024
A tender and touching novel about a young woman who discovers the family she has always longed for when she spends a life-changing summer in North Carolina.

Present: Keaton Smith is desperate for a fresh start. So when her mother needs someone to put her childhood home in Beaufort, North Carolina, on the market—the home that Keaton didn’t know existed until now—she jumps at the chance to head south. Keaton’s grandparents died in a tragic car accident before she was born, so she’s eager to learn more about the family she never met. But even though she has help from her charming next-door-neighbor, his precocious ten-year-old son, and a flock of endearingly feisty town busybodies, Keaton soon finds that she has more questions than answers.

1976: After meeting her adoring husband Townsend, Rebecca “Becks” Saint James abandoned the life she knew and never looked back. Forty years later, she’s made a name for herself as the best hostess North Carolina has ever seen. Her annual summer suppers have become the stuff of legend, and locals and out-of-towners alike clamor for an invitation to her stunning historic home. But she’s struggling behind the fa├žade. Becks strives to make the lives of those around her as easy as possible, but this summer she is facing a dilemma that even she can’t solve. And as the end of the season looms, she is brought to a decision she never wanted to make.

As both Keaton and Becks face new challenges and chapters, they are connected through time by the house on Sunset Lane, which has protected the secrets, hopes, and dreams of the women in their family for generations. For fans of Summer of ‘69 and The Notebook, Last Summer on Sunset Lane explores the power of family, the bonds of friendship, and the boundless nature of love. - from Goodreads


Monday, May 27, 2024

Henry's Shelves #7

 

Henry and I have been enjoying so many books together lately, and I wanted to share the ones that have been on repeat in our house!








Have you read any of these books?


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Friday, May 24, 2024

Quick Reviews

The Fake Mate by Lana Ferguson (2023)

Noah, an unmated alpha werewolf, needs to show the hospital board he has a mate in order to keep his position.  Mackenzie, an ER doctor at the hospital, wants her grandmother to stop hounding her to find a partner, so the two decide to fake date/fake mate in order to satisfy both of their situations.  What they don't expect to happen is their feelings and fate playing a role in their alpha/omega pairing.  Although I read a lot of romance, I don't read a ton of paranormal ones, so I was excited for this one.  While I did have some issues, overall I enjoyed it.  Fake dating is always a fun trope, because part of me is always like, come on!  Of course you're going to end up having feelings for each other!  Mackenzie and Noah didn't really know each other before starting their fake relationship, so it was interesting seeing them get to know each other.  Noah is a bit grumpy, a bit stoic, and I loved those moments when he lets his guard down and can't help smiling at Mackenzie, who is such a ray of sunshine.  The premise lost me a little bit when the two hang out with friends/coworkers and after like 2 minutes, everyone is saying how perfect they are for each other and how in love they seem, when they had literally never seen them together before.  It just felt like it moved too fast.  I did also think the sex scenes took over a bit.  I think the author did a good job with the werewolf lore and creating this universe where such creatures are not only out in the open, but pretty well-accepted.  My only quibble with this is that she points out that alpha-omega pairings are so powerful and fated, yet Mackenzie and Noah worked together for a year and never really came across each other?  Once they're together, though, sparks fly.  4 stars

Starring Adele Astaire by Eliza Knight (2023)

In Starring Adele Astaire, Eliza Knight brings readers into the life of Adele Astaire, sister of the famous Fred Astaire, and an accomplished dancer and actor in her own right.  Having spent years dancing and touring with her brother, Adele is now at a point in her life where she wants to settle down, get married, and start a family - but can she leave the limelight behind?  Juxtaposed with her story is the life of character Violet Wood, an aspiring dancer who has faced much adversity in life.  The two women become friends during Adele's time in London.  I honestly did not know that Fred Astaire had a sister, so I was eager to learn more about her.  I think the author did a great job with researching Adele's life and describing her professional highs and personal lows.  Adele came across as a spitfire, always with a quick joke or a dance move.  I think her desire to retire and start a family came across as clunky and heavy-handed at the beginning, though, especially since it takes several more years for her to get married.  Less telling and more showing was needed.  I liked Adele, but the parts of the story with Violet unfortunately brought it down a little for me.  I appreciated the beginning of their friendship - it felt natural as Violet auditions for an Astaire show in London.  But, as the years go on and they lose touch, the times when they would come back together felt forced, like it was a bit unrealistic that Adele and Violet would end up in the same club at the exact same time after years of not talking.  I did think the setting was nice, as a lot of it takes place in London, and the author does a good job of bringing the long time period to life.  3.5 stars


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Monday, May 20, 2024

Michele's Monday Picks #46

Angela is so generous to let me pop in with my 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!

****************************************************************
 

By Christina Lauren
Expected Publication: June 25, 2024

From Goodreads:
A witty and deeply romantic modern reimagining of Disney’s Tangled, by the New York Times bestselling author duo Christina Lauren, part of the acclaimed and bestselling Meant to Be collection.

She has a dream. He has a plan. Together they’ll take a leap of faith.

Ren has never held an iPhone, googled the answer to a question, or followed a crush on social media. What she has done: Read a book or two, or three (okay, hundreds). Taught herself to paint. Built a working wind power system from scratch. But for all the books she’s read, Ren has never found one that’s taught a woman raised on a homestead and off the grid for most of her twenty-two years how to live in the real world. So when she finally achieves her lifelong dream of attending Corona College, it feels like her life is finally beginning.

Fitz has the rest of his life mapped out: Graduate from Corona at the top of his class, get his criminal record wiped clean, and pass himself off as the rich, handsome player everyone thinks he is. He’s a few short months from checking off step one of his plans when Ren Gylden, with her cascading blonde hair and encyclopedic brain, crashes into his life, and for the first time Fitz’s plan is in jeopardy.

But a simple assignment in their immunology seminar changes the course of both their lives, and suddenly they’re thrown out of the frying pan and into the fire on a road trip that will lead them in the most unexpected directions. Out on the open road, the world somehow shifts, and the unlikely pair realize that, maybe, the key to the dreams they've both been chasing have been sitting next to them the whole time.


My favorite author duo reimagining one of my favorite Disney movies? I’m all in - do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, May 17, 2024

Quick Reviews

Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld (2023)

Sally is a writer for an SNL-type show, when a famous musician, Noah, is tapped to be the host and musical guest.  Sally pokes fun at the phenomenon of average-looking men dating extremely beautiful women but finds the tables may be turned when she and Noah seem to hit it off during his time hosting.  I really loved this book - first, I listened to it on audio, and the narrator (Kristen Sieh) is spectacular.  She really brought Sally to life, creating a smart, funny, but also vulnerable woman.  The story is divided into three main sections - the first takes place during Noah's week of hosting the show.  Not only do we get a great behind-the-scenes look at late-night television and all the work that goes into creating each show, but Sittenfeld perfectly captures how the unusual circumstances lead Sally to wonder if Noah might be interested in her.  Their time there together, however, ends poorly, and the story picks up again a couple years later, actually during the COVID-19 pandemic.  I'm not crazy about fictional books that already incorporate the pandemic, but this felt natural, as Sally and Noah reconnect through email and then as she goes to visit him.  I found Sally to be very relatable - she's so honest and endearing, although she can be very negative towards herself.  And although he's a celebrity, Noah comes across as friendly, charming, and rather normal.  At the beginning I felt like he was being a bit too vague about his feelings, but I did really like his and Sally's connection - their conversations are full of banter and were totally engrossing to listen to.  I was rooting for these two all along!  4.5 stars

The True Love Experiment by Christina Lauren (2023)

Felicity "Fizzy" Chen is a romance novelist who has never been in love; Connor Prince is a documentary filmmaker who is now tasked with producing a reality tv dating show.  It seems like the perfect fit to showcase the queen of romance finding her own true love - but what happens if Fizzy and Connor fall for each other?  This book is linked to a previous Christina Lauren novel; Fizzy was a side character in that story.  I think it helps to have read the first book, but I barely remembered it and I don't think it hindered my enjoyment of this book at all - and I really loved this book!  Although, let me get this out of the way now - I think "Fizzy" is a terrible character name, it just sounds really silly.  Ok, rant over.  There was so much to love about this book!  A romance novelist who has never truly experienced the love she writes about every day?  A dating show where the male "contestants" represent romance archetypes (the cinnamon roll, the alpha, etc.)?  A single dad who still has a great relationship with his ex?  A forbidden love?  Just so many swoons over here.  I loved Fizzy - there is a lightness, an effortlessness to her, although she still has her issues.  And I loved Connor - his devotion to his daughter, especially.  And the two of them together?  Pure chemistry.  These two spark from the moment they meet; it's so obvious they belong together, but there could be major repercussions for the show.  I was anxious to find out how it would all work out, and the ending just had me smiling the biggest, cheesiest grin.  4.5 stars


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Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Can't-Wait Wednesday: Husbands & Lovers

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

Beatriz Williams
Expected publication date: June 25, 2024
Two women—separated by decades and continents, and united by a mysterious family heirloom—reclaim family secrets and lost loves in this sweeping novel from the New York Times bestselling author of The Summer Wives.

New England, 2022. Three years ago, single mother Mallory Dunne received the telephone call every parent dreads—her ten-year-old son Sam had been airlifted from summer camp with acute poisoning from a toxic death cap mushroom, leaving him fighting for his life. Now, in a search for the donor kidney that will give her son a chance for a normal life, Mallory’s forced to confront two harrowing secrets from her past: her mother’s adoption from an infamous Irish orphanage in 1952, and her own all-consuming summer romance fourteen years earlier with her childhood best friend Monk Adams—now one of the world’s most beloved singer-songwriters—a fairytale cut short by an agonizing betrayal.

Cairo, 1951. After suffering tragedy beyond comprehension in the war, Hungarian refugee Hannah Ainsworth has forged a respectable new life for herself—marriage to a wealthy British diplomat, a coveted posting in glamorous Cairo. But a fateful encounter with the enigmatic manager of a hotel bristling with spies leads to a passionate affair that will reawaken Hannah's longing for everything she once lost. As revolution simmers in the Egyptian streets, a pregnant Hannah finds herself snared into a game of intrigue between two men…and an act of sacrifice that will echo down the generations.

Timeless and bittersweet, Husbands And Lovers draws readers on an unforgettable journey of heartbreak and redemption, from the revolutionary fires of midcentury Egypt to the moneyed beaches of contemporary New England. Acclaimed author Beatriz Williams has written a poignant and beautifully voiced novel of deeply human characters entangled by morally complex issues—of privilege, class, and the female experience—inside worlds brought shimmeringly to life. - from Goodreads


Monday, May 13, 2024

Little Free Library Sightings

It's always fun to see a Little Free Library "out in the wild!"  I love to spot them, browse their selection, leave a book if possible, and then look them up on the official website, because sometimes they have interesting stories to go along with them!  There's also an app you can download to find local Little Free Libraries where you can even "check in" to keep track of the ones you've visited!  Here are a couple I've visited recently!

#129722 - I stopped quickly at this Little Free Library on the way home from a birthday party.  I love the bright white library and the story that goes along with it - "Ryan built this little library as an anniversary gift. Melissa is an English teacher and loves sharing books with others!"  How sweet!  The street it's on is very narrow, so parking was a little dicey and I only spent a minute perusing.
#170072 - How fun is this library?  It's made out of an old newspaper bin, the kind that pulls down from the top.  There is a row of books against the door window, and there are more shelves inside.  It was completely full with books, which was great to see!  I left a children's book but didn't take anything.  This one was located not far from the previous one.
#9915 - On our recent weekend trip to Maryland, I spotted this LFL in a lovely neighborhood.  The weather wasn't great, but Tom convinced me to stop!  This is another one with a great story - "I love and treasure books, and own over 800 of them, but even I need to cull sometimes! This library is what happens when I have multiple copies of a book, or perhaps when I outgrow a particular story. Every book has something to recommend it! The books are split fairly evenly amongst books for young children, YA books, and books for adults."  I love that the owner is always sharing books from their own collection and that they have such a great variety of books - something for everyone!
#54230 - We stopped in Baltimore to walk around the Inner Harbor for a couple hours and Tom asked if there were any LFLs I wanted to stop at nearby.  I checked the app and saw there was one at a museum just a couple blocks away, so we walked over.  Here's the story - "The Star-Spangled Banner Flag House & Museum’s Little Free Library was made possible by the Little Free Library Impact fund. It is the first Library in our historic Baltimore neighborhood, Jonestown. Our Library will serve the families and children of Baltimore and the more than 6,000 school age children who visit the museum each year. The Flag House is the historic home of Mary Young Pickersgill, maker of the Star-Spangled Banner Flag (1813)."  I thought the library would be accessible, but unfortunately, it's inside the grounds of the museum, which was not open the day we went.  So, this was the best photo I could get from behind the gate!  I wish the library was outside but it's still wonderful for the neighborhood.

 

And lastly, something fun - my husband actually sent me these pictures of a lending library he spotted out in the wild!  He was at the Bay Head rail station and next to the building is the "Railside Garden."  Someone installed this lending library, which I think is just perfect for train commuters!  It's not an official LFL, but it was still a cool sighting!

Friday, May 10, 2024

Indie Bookstore Spotlight: Queen Takes Book

We recently drove to Maryland to visit my college roommate and I came across Queen Takes Book while we were there!  This indie bookstore had actually opened only three weeks earlier, and when we visited on Indie Bookstore Day, it was quite crowded!


The store itself isn't very large, but it's a beautiful space.  I loved this little corner with some chairs and a chess set, as well as a table featuring recommendations from the staff.


The atmosphere of the store is very cool, too - dark walls and shelves but with some fun chandelier lighting.  These butterfly decorations added some whimsy to the wall!


They have a small children's section in one of the back corners, with a cozy rug and a couple of small chairs for kids to sit and read while their parents browse!  Apologies for the poor picture, there were two children nearby and I was trying to avoid getting them in the shot!


This is a view of the store from the children's corner.  There are a few more shelves against the walls you can't see and some tables of recent releases.  I checked out the romance section, which is on one of the shelves in the middle of the store, although I didn't do too much browsing since my guys were waiting in the car.  The store has a nice open feel, perfect for browsing.


I ended up choosing a book about planets for Henry, which of course we had to read that night.  I enjoyed my trip to Queen Takes Book and if you're ever in the Columbia, MD area, I encourage you to check them out!

Monday, May 6, 2024

Michele's Monday Picks #45

Angela is so generous to let me pop in with my 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!

*******************************************************************
 

By Rachel Lynn Solomon
Expected Publication: June 4, 2024

From Goodreads:
They fell for each other in just twenty-four hours. Now Rowan and Neil embark on a long-distance relationship during their first year of college in this romantic, dual points of view sequel to Today Tonight Tomorrow.

When longtime rivals Rowan Roth and Neil McNair confessed their feelings on the last day of senior year, they knew they’d only have a couple months together before they left for college. Now summer is over, and they’re determined to make their relationship work as they begin school in different states.

In Boston, Rowan is eager to be among other aspiring novelists, learning from a creative writing professor she adores. She’s just not sure why she suddenly can’t seem to find her voice.

In New York, Neil embraces the chaos of the city, clicking with a new friend group more easily than he anticipated. But when his past refuses to leave him alone, he doesn’t know how to handle his rapidly changing mental health—or how to talk about it with the girl he loves.

Over a year of late-night phone calls, weekend visits, and East Coast adventures, Rowan and Neil fall for each other again and again as they grapple with the uncertainty of their new lives. They’ve spent so many years at odds with each other—now that they’re finally on the same team, what does the future hold for them?

Today Tonight Tomorrow is probably my favorite YA book of all time so I have high hopes for this sequel - do you think you’ll be picking this one up?

Friday, May 3, 2024

Fiction/Nonfiction Quick Reviews

Best Served Hot by Amanda Elliot (2023)

After a social media restaurant critic loses out on a newspaper reviewer job, she finds herself working with the man who actually got the job, in an effort to boost both of their online presences.  Although at first Julie is reluctant, she comes to find that she and Bennett have more in common than just a shared love of food.  Although this was a cute premise, ultimately this story was a let-down.  I liked the social media aspects; the author does a good job of incorporating Julie's side gig as a restaurant critic, how she operates, etc.  The descriptions of food were mouth-watering at first, but they got a little overwhelming.  I also enjoyed the relationship between Julie and Alice, a coder who faces a lot of sexism at work.  Unfortunately, a lot didn't work for me.  Julie isn't particularly likable - she's very judgmental and constantly late, which is a big pet peeve of mine.  I felt no chemistry between her and Bennett; her feelings towards him felt very immature.  The author included these little threads of potential storylines that ultimately ended up going nowhere (for example, Julie makes a big deal of pointing out that things at Bennett's apartment all seemed new and unused; he remarks later that he lives in one of his dad's many apartments - ok, but that doesn't really explain it?).  I was expecting some deeper thoughts but the story is disappointingly surface-level.  3 stars 
 
 
Stuck in a rut, writer Jessica Pan decided that branching out from her introvert comfort zone and acting like an extrovert for an entire year might be a solution to her problems.  I've wanted to read this book for awhile, and I'm glad I finally did!  I listened to this on audio and I think the author did a great job with the narration (which isn't always the case).  I identify a lot with Jessica - I'm not super comfortable in group settings, small talk can be difficult for me, and being on stage or the center of attention is one of my worst nightmares.  So, I wanted to see if it was possible to learn how to be more extroverted (and actually be comfortable with it).  Jessica sought out experts in various fields to get their advice, which she then put into practice, things like talking to strangers on the bus (and asking them ridiculous questions) and hosting a dinner party.  I think her ability to seek out and talk to these experts was somewhat unrealistic for some of us (I don't think I'd be able to just call a famous comedian) but the intent was good.  And while some of the exercises she took part in are things I would never do (or think are necessary to become an extrovert, like improv or performing stand-up comedy), I did take away some good bits from the book.  I especially enjoyed the chapter on making friends as an adult (because I think we can all agree, it's very difficult!).  I think my biggest takeaway is that sometimes, just putting yourself out there a little bit more can have amazing results.  4 stars


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Wednesday, May 1, 2024

Month in Review: April 2024

 

April was an absolute whirlwind!  Here's what happened:

  • I turned 40!  Not gonna lie, kinda been dreading that number for awhile, but so far it hasn't been too bad!
  • We experienced an earthquake!  I was in a Barnes & Noble when it happened, and I was so scared that I just froze.  It wasn't a very big one, 4.8, but it was unsettling to feel the shaking.  I didn't know if something happened to the building or outside.  I was also pretty close to Henry's daycare and I was trying to calculate in my head how long it would take to run there.  Funnily, Tom was only a couple miles away and he felt nothing!
  • Then, we experienced an eclipse!  Guys, I swear it felt like the apocalypse was coming - earthquakes, eclipses, turning 40 all within a few days of each other!  Anyway, we took Henry out of daycare early and he had a blast watching with his safety glasses.  He was actually really interested in it.  We were in the approximately 90% totality area and the clouds were coming in and out, so Henry was alternating yelling, "I see nothing!" and "I see the moon!"
  • Tom and I went to see Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, and it was pretty good!
  • Henry got a haircut and I'm not sure what was so different this time, but he did NOT want it to happen.  He cried and squirmed the whole time!  I felt so bad for the barber.  
  • My sister and I went to see Abby Jimenez in person to celebrate the launch of her new book!  A recap of the event is below.
  • We took Henry to the zoo one weekend, finally taking advantage of our membership.  
  • Tax season ended and our company threw a little happy hour event.  Wanting a change of pace (and to talk to some adults for awhile), I went to work in the office for the day and then attended.  The firm also gave us off the first Friday after tax season ended, so that was nice.
  • We attended our nephew's birthday party at an indoor trampoline park (or a "jumping place," as Henry calls it).  
  • My college roommate's mother passed away last month, so we traveled down to Maryland this month to see her and attend the celebration of life.  Although she was understandably busy, it was nice to catch up for a short time.  Henry was excited to stay in a hotel and sleep in his pack n' play (I'm not really sure why, but he did great, so I'm not going to question it!).  We stopped in Baltimore and walked around the Inner Harbor for a couple hours on our way home.
  • Henry has learned to say "I love you!"  This is the cutest development ever, especially when combined with the hugs and kisses he freely gives now, too!

The Books




The Posts and Reviews




How are you doing?


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