Wednesday, May 1, 2024

April 2024 Reads

Look who's turned up this month to do books in long form.

Engrossing Reads

If Something Happens to Me by Alex Finlay - 4.5 for keeping me fully engaged and anxious to pick the book back up spurring me to read it entirely within two short blocks of time. Did the story work all the way though, did everything line up, were all the characters deep and likable? Does any of that matter if I couldn’t put it down? Free advanced copy courtest of Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, book publishes 5/28

The Return of Ellie Black by Emiko Jean - I simply devoured this - great story and writing. This was my first Emiko Jean book but it will not be my last. Free advanced copy courtest of Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, book publishes 5/7

Table for Two by Amor Towles - Shorter stories - I hesitate to assign them simply short because Amor Towles doesn't really do short per se - which is not my favorite type of read. I would read the packaging of paper towels if Towles wrote it though, and that holds true for writing in short form. One story I'd read before, but gladly read again. OCNJ library hardcover

What Happened to Nina? by Dervla McTiernan - I think this is McTiernan's best so far. It reads like true crime and is definitely reminiscent of one. This vibe is aided by its cover. OCNJ library hardcover

Passed the Time Just Fine
What Wild Women Do by Karma Brown - this was actually a March read that didn't make those rolls. Picked it up based on the title and a previous experience with the author. It was a bit deeper than I expected it to be with a large dose of feminism which you might imagine was just fine by me. OCNJ library hardcover

I Cheerfully Refuse by Leif Enger - A not truly dystopian but feels dystopian-ish journey that read chaotic but still proved worthy of sticking with. I might have been more enthusiastic about this if actual life didn't feel very dystopian-ish?  OCNJ library hardcover

Wait by Gabriella Burnham - Appropriate given the title, I was sort of waiting for something at the end that was never coming. That's a little bit of the point maybe. I hated several people in this. More than several maybe? Okay, almost all. I liked the sisters and their relationship. Free advanced copy courtest of Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, book publishes 5/21

Beautiful Maids All in a Row (Iris Ballard #1) by Jennifer Harlow - It took me an eternity to read this, mostly slogging through the beginning and there was a lot of repetition. Once it got going it was certainly passble. This was on my Kindle, not sure where from, it published in 2016 so who knows

Long After We Are Gone by Terah Shelton Harris -  I liked the story but the storytelling and writing are the stars - they pull you in and keep you there. The characters and their relationships are developed just how I like in books too. Will definitely read more from this author Free advanced copy courtest of Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, book publishes 5/14

A Lovely Lie by Jaime Lynn Hendricks - Every book requires suspension of belief but this took it to another level. Everything but the kitchen sink in here, and I kept reading because I could not see how these people could continue on. A ride for sure, is it one you want to be on I don't know Free advanced copy courtest of Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, book publishes 5/28

Bless Your Heart (#1) by Lindy Ryan - Campy as hell, which I don't mind every once in a while. I love when campy is told in a matter of fact way too. A fun jaunt centered around a family of women I liked. Free advanced copy courtest of Netgalley in exchange for an honest review 

Everyone is Watching by Heather Gudenkauf - This author is an automatic read for me. Not my favorite of hers by far mostly due to the subject matter but passable. paperback, borrowed

Not For Me

Knife River by Justine Champine - I was expecting a much different book even after I started reading It ended up...fine. Edging near not for me mostly due to storytelling style so I'm leaving it here because if I knew now what I know then I probably would not have stuck with it. Early trauma and its effects on who we turn out to be. Relationships, both sisterly and romantic. Free advanced copy courtest of Netgalley in exchange for an honest review, book publishes 5/28

Lucky by Jane Smiley - This sounded so promising but was just...not it for me. Reading it was an uphill battle and I was confused as hell at the top. The ache that is familiar in Jane Smiley novels is present in glimpses, but otherwise it did not read much like a Jane Smiley to me at all. Free advanced copy courtest of Netgalley in exchange for an honest review 

Did Not Finish




What have you been reading?

Friday, April 19, 2024

Things I've been meaning to tell you 4.19.2024

1. Is the AI robot coming up with the names for my spotify daylists okay? Happy Tortured Poet's Department Day to all who celebrate. I'm not a Swiftie or a member of the Beyhive but I've enjoyed both recently released albums and have favorites from both. 

2. We are booked for the summer season at the shore but have a rare long weekend in early June open (possible dates are June 5-9). That's typically our weekend with MFD's fam and there's a family wedding so we moved the weekend up leaving that one free. I also have the first weekend in October open and some weekdays in Sept and Oct too if you know anyone interested. You can see the listing here

3. I'm open to renting a little extra than usual to cover some upcoming expenses and things I forgot needed to happen, like replacing stair carpet. Fall Us excel as a couple at saying, "we'll do that in the spring" then suddenly it's April and there's a looootttt of things to do. So far I've gotten the supplies we keep in our apartment and outside organized, bought the majority of household supplies that will hopefully get us through to August before I need to re-stock, and ordered 80 rolls of TP. I've been leaning into the Dollar General $5 off on Saturday coupon to pick some of the cleaning/household supplies up on the cheap. This week I also got the outdoor shower fixed and ordered the replacement carpet for the stairs from the main floor to the second floor.We last did that project in spring 2017 and that carpet was a dark blue and is riddled with bleach. I remove all bleach cleaners before the season starts but people bring their own and I can't control that. This time we're going with aloe and a different type of carpet so hoping for longer more than six years out of it but we'll see. It is a high traffic area with lots of barefoot people in a town with a lot of dark sand. Next weekend is touch up painting weekend and all Touch Up Painters are invited. I'm sure no hands are raised.

4. I've also been getting rid of things we no longer need at the shore on Freecycle and what kind of psycho says they want something for free then doesn't pick it up? I always check back in with people like hey are you coming? After that they're out, we do not play by the three strike rule here. When they claim an item and don't show I block them. Toodles, go waste someone else's time. 

5. Big fan of getting every last drop. I have stuck with this facial cleanser at night for years at this point (I use a milder one in the morning). I am less likely to upset the facial apple cart as I age. If it works it works. Also of course I don't just use a plastic shower curtain, I'm not a serial killer. Mr. Rooney peed on the fabric one so it had to come down.

6. Monthly massage at Blossom coming up on Wednesday and I am in extra need this month - have you considered doing a monthly massage for wellness? I highly recommend Sarah. 

7. I am enraged with Netflix. I had everyone on my account in the allotted slots and paid for it for years. They got kicked off one by one. Then I could not access Netflix IN MY OWN HOME because it said I was not in my household since one household is in NJ and one is in PA. I explained this - I am absolutely not the only one who operates out of two places - and they gave me a work around and it stopped working. I had to change the household every time, there was no more option for "I'm traveling." So I cancelled it outright have not re-upped it. I was a continual netflix customer since 2004 I think, when we got the DVDs in the mail. No, I do not want two fucking accounts for one service so I can use it in two places. That's how people get overcharged and miss it. 

8. Weekends gone by paragraph recaps because I seem to be unable to quit that habit. I do for a while, successfully, then feel driven to make a note. 

9. Big into this mixed with some Topo Chico and a lime. If you live in the land of legal weed in these parts (NJ), this is in the...liquor store. But it has no alcohol. 

10. Beach scenes of late

Happy birthday to Gail today! And happy Friday to all


Thursday, April 18, 2024

Weekends gone by

Three times this week alone I've referenced this blog for information I've needed about my own life. When did we buy our car? What color spray paint did I use on the old wooden stools we had? What year did we go to New England with Dad and Carol? All of which make me wonder how the fuck will I know things if I can't search for them here LOL

A series of past weekends for the memory tax.

March 22-24
Friday I worked while bone broth (chicken wing and pork shoulder bone) percolated in the crockpot for 24 hours. Friday night I read. Saturday I worked on taxes while watching Priscilla - nothingburger of a movie - and Quiet on Set. I'm a little older than the Nick generation but whew. Saturday was rainy so those were good rainy day tasks before Ben & I shook the stink off with a beach walk, and closed out the night eating out of the freezer, watching NCAA basketball, and reading. We love to see an angry ocean. Sunday I got the house in order for the coming Easter weekend with the fam, including cleaning bathrooms, vac'ing and mopping floors, clearing out spices, putting shit away, clearing counters, moving furniture, etc etc. I also went to the grocery store and changed sheets in our apartment before I headed back to Philly where I painted my nails in shades of purple, made a comfort food meal of pastina, carrots, and some greens using the bone broth from Friday, and washed my hair. I detest hair washing day.

Easter weekend
Stephen and Aubrey and the kids and Mom and Rich arrived Thursday, Kate and Dan and the kids Friday, Sean and Nicole and MFD with Bruce and Rooney on Saturday. I did a library trip with the kids Thursday. Friday was a windy and cold beach walk, a short stroll down Asbury to the two local bookshops, egg dying, and an adults only trip across the bridge to Somers Point. We tried Gregory's which was like walking into a wet fart, and then next door to Josie Kelly's which was much more hospitable. Saturday was some beach time and games. Sunday was Easter Bunny, short beach stint, dinner, and boardwalking. A great long weekend with the fam.

April 4-6
I was supposed to be visiting Kim and fam in MA this weekend but we decided to reschedule for later in the year. Friday night after traffic died down a bit I made my way back down the shore, unpacked the car and made the bed and all that jazz. Saturday started with an early beach walk, some reading, my first OPA gyro of the season, and a stroll by OC ComicCon to check out a ghostbuster car which the owner insisted on being in every photo, a Delorean, and a batmobile. Those owners were much more chill and wanted the focus on the cars. 
A great feet in the water day, and impromptu parking lot visit with Michelle, a stock up the house trip to Dollar General, and peacing out. Sunday was nails and books and purging paint and under bed boxes, putting stuff up on Freecycle, a quick grocery store trip where I had to get the Dolly biscuits, tiring these dogs out, and chipwich for dinner. 
The gift of glorious sunsets both Saturday and Sunday nights - Saturday (top) at the end of my street and Sunday (bottom) a ride out to Corsons for a change of scenery.

April 12-14
Friday we gave it the old college try but the wind was absolutely inhospitable for our daily beach walk so we gave up and turned back about four blocks earlier than usual.
Saturday was time to pay the piper and run the errands over the bridge I had put off all week: a pickup order at the hardware store, Dollar General (but I used my Saturday coupon and saved a boatload so worth it to wait), Staples to print a return and drop it there, Target to return some shit and pick up a few groceries, then on to pick up my card for the Beach Cleanup which was completely miserable in the still audacious wind. My favorite thrift store was packed, but I did get another ceramic five gallon water dispenser for cheap as hell and a chuckle out of the pins. I picked up holds at the library and retreated inside where there was no goddamn wind.
I made cherry cheesecake dip, bread using a two hour rise which did not turn out as I hoped - I will stick with my standard recipe for no knead with a 20 hour rise time - painted my nails, watched the Phillies, and Mark and Sarah and Harry arrived. MFD followed a few hours later. 
Sunday was a nice driveway morning, an everyone in car ride to the South End and a beach walk there cut short by more fucking wind, Parks & Rec, the Masters, a corn and jalapeno side dish, and shrimp tacos. I carried a book around all day and never read it then read it in full from like 9-1. Nine ish, I was still moving around from 9-10. Why do I do these things.
Harry and Mr. Rooney are a match made in heaven. They love hanging out and barking together.

That'll do it. 



Sunday, March 31, 2024

March 2024 Reads

I'll be going back to my regular long-format monthly reads post, but not this month. 

This is what I read in March. I also went to two author events put on by Newtown Bookshop. I saw Lisa Gardner on March 17 (check out the Frankie Elkin series, she's on tour for the third book in that) in Northampton and Lisa Scottoline with my mom on March 25 at Bucks. Lisa S was hilarious which I was not expecting. Her latest, The Truth About the Devlins, was a solid read. 
As always support your local bookstore - if you're buying books, please do not buy books from Amazon or Target! They do not need your book money and there is literally no reason to buy from them aside from convenience. If you are a reader, I hope you value the presence of people who place books visibly in communities over convenience. Local bookstores do need your money, you can order advanced copies from them, most ship. If you don't have one near you or are unable to get to one, you can shop on and choose a bookstore to benefit from your purchases.

What have you read and liked lately?

Thursday, March 21, 2024

Things I've been meaning to tell you 3.21.2024

1. Items of interest from last weekend: I turned 47 Friday and celebrated by doing exactly what I woke up and wanted to do that day which included: semi-annual library used book sale, lunch at Lobster House, trolling around ReStore and TJMaxx/HomeGoods, overspending at the bakery, getting groceries, walking on the beach, putting my feet in the ocean, a quick drive to the dispensary, MFD picking up takeout from my favorite Italian restaurant in town and eating it on the couch in pajamas, MFD putting together the new cabinet I wanted (to have a third shelf where there used to be two in a small efficiency apartment with no storage? a dream), and my favorite comfort watch The Office. Thanks for all the birthday wishes - I typically share thoughts on my actual birthday and you can find them here. Saturday we met our new attached neighbors at the shore, I got the new loveseat I wanted for our porch from Big Lots, and we headed back to Philly for an impromptu fire pit night with my brother and the kids, MFD's brother and SIL and Harry, and Jared and Amy complete with a funfetti birthday cake a la Jared that was delicious. Sunday started with coffee outside then a pedicure, Lisa Gardner in conversation with Liz Moore, and the traditional St. Patrick's Day meal. I had myself a Sunday, which is not always the case. The boundary between Sunday and Monday is a hard one for me to hold most weeks.

2. I never did the weekend before either it appears. I was still in the spin cycle with insane work hours and deadlines. I watched Major League for the first time in an eternity and damn this movie holds up. I spent many hours on a rainy Saturday doing some trip planning, had a nice impromptu birthday week dinner at Mom & Rich's, Sunday I went to my first ever professional lacrosse game and it was definitely more fun than I expected. Enjoyable Wings game thanks to Tiffany and Brandon, followed by dinner at Chickies with Stephen and Aubrey and the kids. MFD met us there. Solid weekend!
3. The first quarter of the year was an hours and deadline trial by fire at work. I actually spent part of three days in Philly a few weeks back, which is rare these days. I still can't believe how different work life is post-pandemic March 2020. It's literally transformed my life in ways I never imagined before March 2020.

4. Yesterday was a banner sun ray through the clouds day - I saw it in Philly and later at the beach. It was a great reflection day as well. Clear skies with no clouds are my least favorite. I prefer a blue sky but clouds for interest, always.
5. This beauty is from last week. Clouds make a sunrise and sunset.
6. I'm this person now with reading glasses. They're everywhere yet sometimes I can't find them so now they can always be with me. 
7. Recent pet photos I like.

8. My bedside table project turned out as I wanted at the shore. Both have shelves in the middle for books which I loaded up on at the library book sale so I'll be populating them this weekend.
9. Watching: Just finished True Detective Night Country. Reading: Sally Hepworth's Darling Girls, which publishes April 23. 

10. Happy spring, folks. If the spring temps could come back, that would be fantastic.

I'm out here trying to stay in the day, present every day. To feel and welcome joy in the small moments. Living in a world where no one agrees on a damn thing and you can see that every second online is not easy. 

I cannot wrap my head around how we cannot at the least agree that people who are hungry should have access to food. I hate knowing people are hungry in America because they can't afford food and people cannot distinguish between inflation and corporate greed; that people are being starved in Gaza, including hostages, because food is not allowed in by land; that people are starving in Sudan because of six years of violence coupled with flooding and population displacement; that 25 years of violence and displacement and climate change has made hunger an ongoing fact of life in the Congo; and I could go on. If we cannot agree to feed people as a basic human right and have countries and corporations conduct themselves in a way that allows the earth to remain habitable for all of us, we are not going to agree to jack shit. 

Off to take Bruce to the vet for a weird irritated drooping eyeball. Wish us luck.


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