Friday, May 31, 2024

May 2024 Reads



Long form two months in a row. Hey ohhhhhhhh. Photos were not loading so leaving them out. I did a lot of work work and a lot of shore house work in May and not as much reading, but I was happy to absolutely love more than usual in a month.

Engrossing Reads
Lula Dean's Little Library of Banned Books by Kirsten Miller - This was like several stories within a story with life lessons taken from the content of banned books and good versus evil in which of course the evil people want to ban the books and the good people want others to be able to read whatever the fuck they want and it all plays out in a small town full of all sorts of people and yes. Yes. If a book is created for an audience, I am the audience for this book. Free advanced copy from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 


Her Dying Secret (Detective Josie Quinn #20) by Lisa Regan - A series that continues to deliver - some of you have read those words here probably 20 times. Kindle copy

Think Twice (Myron Bolitar #12) by Harlan Coben - The first Myron novel since 2016. A surprise advanced copy from Netgalley the week before it released. Is this heaven? Yes it is. More Myron! Myron all the time. If you have not read the Myron books, start at the very beginning. A very good place to start. I love this chosen family of people. Free advanced copy from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

Husbands & Lovers by Beatriz Williams - I can clearly remember reading A Hundred Summers on the beach in Cape May years ago and being utterly engrossed. I've read multiple BW books since and nothing reached that level until this one. The absolute chaos of this novel, many elements I dislike in a book, and extremely questionable character actions but I could not put it down and felt like clutching it to myself. I had to stay up until 1:30 am to finish. Half wish I had saved it for a beach read but I could not control myself  - so you please use it as a summer beach/outdoor read. Free advanced copy from netgalley in exchange for an honest review, book publishes June 25

Passed the Time Just Fine

The Inmate by Freida McFadden  - This woman goes wild sometimes in the storylines, no? Cripes. It makes it readable in under two hours though. Paperback, given to me

Seven Summers by Paige Toon - I liked the story and this was semi-engrossing, but there was too much extraneous stuff that I thought slowed the pace. Also frustrated by the characters - like do you like each other or not why is this complicated. This reminded me of Carly Fortune novels with the same complaints on my end so it's surely meeeeeeeee, hi, I'm the problem, it's me. Free advanced copy from netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

This Summer Will be Different by Carley Fortune - See above for frustrated by the characters. No way should this have gone on as long as it did without people being adults and also the big secret was like what? LOL Still a solid read, still the problem is me. OCNJ library hardcover


Cut and Thirst by Margaret Atwood - I always have time for a weird little short story by Margaret Atwood, and bonus it was free. Amazon free bonus first reads thing

Soldier Sailor by Claire Kilroy - I was not prepared for the weight of this book and staggered under it a bit, and that's on me. The writing is great, but it is intense as hell so be prepared. Free advanced copy from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review

Not For Me

The Seventh Girl (Detective Kat Ballantyne #1) by Andy Maslen - The style and conversations are not for me. Had on Kindle, maybe a free Amazon Firsts read?

Do Not Disturb by Freida McFadden - Even I have my limits on wild ass shit in books that require suspension of belief. This is plain wilding out. Paperback, given to me

The Safekeep by Yael van der Wouden - Whew, what a main character and that's not meant in a flattering way. Really liked the writing - especially for a debut - but it reads more like a period drama in the wrong period? And I'm not a fan of those. This will be much loved by a lot of people. Free advanced copy in exchange for an honest review

Did Not Finish

n/a


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

What have you been reading?















Tuesday, May 21, 2024

April and May weekending


April 19-21
MFD coordinated an Earth Day clean up with multiple participant organizations so I went up there and did the lunch run. I also filled out my mail in ballot and dropped it at a box. Sunday was back to the shore for a major rage clean due to getting my period after over eight months not getting it and then falling into an exhausted sleep at 5 on the couch, waking up at 12:30 am and never going back to sleep. Perimenopause is fucked.
Saturday night we met up with old friends in Lambertville on the tail end of Shadfest for dinner at Under the Moon. Food and company were both great. I loved the name of the restaurant and the ambiance. I wish I had a jacket with me LOL. MFD and I were unintentionally matching yet again.

April 26-28
Friday after work I headed back down to the shore and picked up my most useful, best Freecycle score ever - a plastic gate that we can use in the driveway at the shore so the dogs can be out but not run into the street which they do not do but they surely would run after other dogs. We hit the beach and melted into the couch. Saturday I did some upkeep work outside in the driveway, walked a zillion miles doing my errands, celebrated Independent Bookstore Day by patronizing two of my locals including one of my all time favorites which is a used paperback bookstore, found an awesome new shop that is totally my vibe, more beach walking, read two books, and made a clear out the pantry dinner. Sunday walked a zillion more miles, read another two books, ate cookies until I was ill, and beach dog time.

May 3-5
A doing weekend - HomeGoods, new window ACs for bedrooms, touch up painting throughout the house, sorting and organizing under bed bins and other seasonal prep work.
Saturday we got the stair carpet replaced. It was also the spring block party so I got pretzels and that's about it, as it was a working weekend. 
Otherwise reading, snacky dinners, cute dogs, Shittah's third birthday and May the 4th be with you. And a rainy walk. Imagine, rain.

May 10-12
Melissa and Jim and the kids were down, always one of my favorite weekends. And the dogs too, they get so much attention from everyone and Melissa always puts out a spread which they love LOL. It was sunny enough Saturday to sit in the driveway for a bit, paint my toes outside, and hit the beach, staying up by the dunes to block the wind.
After splitting a bottle of champagne for mimosas with Melissa on the beach I got a wild hair up my ass to paint our apartment bathroom bubblegum pink (SW6583 In the Pink) then Sunday I spray painted the hanging baskets (Krylon pistachio).

Sunday I drove to Philly and back for Mother's Day, which included a pop in to TJMaxx where in a miraculous event I had 15 minutes to get in and out and found everything I was looking for with time to spare to go to Sherwin Williams and pick up more paint. A true unicorn of an event. We celebrated Mom and Rich (his birthday was Thursday) and I got the cutest zen pug from my niece and nephew then stopped in to see Gram before heading back to the shore to hang out more with Melissa & Jim.

May 17-19
Friday I was jamming on work by 6:30 am, at Sam's by 8, and a firedrill of a day from then on. MFD's fam arrived and I made cherry cheesecake dip, brownie batter dip, and took a lovely beach walk. Cheers to the fam for dealing with the oven delivery on Saturday since the initial install date of Tuesday was ixnayed due to damage upon arrival. 

Saturday was a working day, I was headed back to Philly before 8 am, talked to Laura the entire ride, unpacked a zillion boxes, packed a zillion boxes, went to three different shipping places (including one where 10 people yelled at me in russian for having so many boxes and the mail lady was like you know everyone hates you, right? yes I know), picked up a shower curtain from HomeGoods on an in and out trip, filled my car up with gas, thought I lost my credit card, and then headed to a work Phillies game. I got free parking thanks to a pin drop from my work BFF, stood the whole time for fear of falling asleep or zoning out, Phils won, and I made it back to the shore at 10:50. I was wired so up until after midnight. Friday and Saturday were both insane Henry Hill days - which is how I reference the bust when he was running all over on precision timing dealing with jam ups at every turn LOL. 

Sunday I was done done. I went to drop off a Freecycle item, picked up carrot cake for Sarah's birthday (her birthday is tomorrow) and sung to her and Maddi's boyfriend on his actual birthday (he got an ice cream cake), and chilled out reading magazines and watching Parks and Rec. MFD was working Sunday so it was his day for back and forth. By 7 pm my racing thoughts had finally ceased, just in time for work to begin again. 

That'll do it. I've been doing reels on Instagram with snippets of the weekend, you can always find them here

SMD






 

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

n/a

TL, DR


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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

SMD





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. 

SMD






 
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