Summer strategy, romance, heists

Hi, y’all! We are more than three weeks into summer break at our house, and so far my strategy of taking it easy and having VERY LOW expectations is working. We are taking full advantage of slow mornings, our neighborhood pool, and the now-open public library. We have started piano lessons for the first time, had a visit from grandparents, and gone to Vacation Bible School. While I have set boundaries on screen time, I am doing my best not to compare our boundaries to those of others, instead trying to focus on doing what works for our family and tweaking as needed. Do some days seem to stretch on into an infinite hot, humid haze where we are all grumpy and tired? Yes, absolutely. Have I been as productive as I would like to be? No, definitely not. But so far I haven’t lost my mind completely, so I consider that a win. Best of all, I’ve been reading books, of course! 

What I’m reading…

Garden Spells, by Sarah Addison Allen

I finally introduced myself to Sarah Addison Allen’s books last year, and a few weeks ago convinced my book club to read her debut novel Garden Spells for our upcoming first-in-over-a-year meeting (it didn’t take too much convincing!).I thoroughly enjoyed this story about sisters, family, belonging, and destiny. I loved the nuanced characters, and, of course the way Allen weaves magic into the story. I think Allen does a good job of creating a story that feels almost fairytale-like, while still telling a compelling, page-turning story

Bridal Train: Further Adventures of Chloe Crandall, Dudette of the West

This book was a bit of a surprise. I read it as part of my very part time paid review gig, and often those books are fine, but not to my taste. This young adult novel was extremely charming, and managed to weave historical fiction into a contemporary story, as the main character, Chloe, joins a reality TV show reenacting a wagon train journey from Missouri to Colorado. Although some of the secondary characters were a bit off-key for me, the main character was a delight. I definitely think this book would appeal more to the teen reader (rather than an adult reader), but it’s one I’d feel comfortable passing on to a teen reader of any age who enjoys light-hearted novels.

The Cul-De-Sac War, by Melissa Fergusson was cute and funny, albeit a little over-the-top. It was the perfect chaser to the more intense detective novel I read last month.

Always the Last to Know, by Kristan Higgins

This was not my favorite Kristan Higgins novel, mostly because I found the majority of the characters to be really annoying. That said, I did enjoy the complicated family dynamics and multiple points of view. I appreciated reading about people in various points of their life--the family matriarch dealing with the end of a marriage, the oldest daughter at the height of her career and fearful of her “comfortable” home life, and the younger daughter who everyone still doesn’t see as settled down. Despite my irritation with the characters, I was rooting for them, and that kept me turning the pages, as well as the fact that Higgins writing style is easy and familiar, and one I enjoy. 

The Good, the Bad, and the Dumped, by Jenny Colgan was a fun British rom-com with a fairly absurd premise that the author managed to turn into a believable and enjoyable novel. Although the novel is clever and funny, it’s also tender and heartfelt, with a compelling main character. I’ll definitely be reading more by this author.

What I’m watching…

Lupin season 2 released this month, and Jeremy and I both enjoyed the second installment of this clever series about a con man who fashions himself after a fictional “gentleman thief” from a series of novels. It’s a really well done, fast paced series with a bit of an Oceans 11 flavor. (reminder: this is a French show, so be prepared for subtitles if you want to give it a try).

Something I’m grateful for…

As I said above, we have been trying to regularly go to the neighborhood pool (my goal is a couple of times a week), and I am just so grateful that we have easy access to a swimming pool. The kids love it, and it’s a nice way to get some sunshine and exercise when it’s so miserably hot.

I’m also newly grateful for a candle that I bought for summer and forgot about until just a few days ago. It smells so good, and was just the right amount of mental lift this week! 

This spring I realized I needed some new running shorts, and found a new brand and style that look promising, and I’m a little giddy since it’s been quite a while since I’ve bought new running shorts. 

The kids’ piano teacher is FANTASTIC. We tried a studio near our house that we were unfamiliar with, but it’s proved to be a great choice so far.

Oh! And a little footnote: the Local Author Fair I attended at the end of May was really fun! I met some people, made some potential contacts, saw a few friends, and sold a few books (to strangers, even!). It was a motivating experience, and good to dust off my book selling skills. 

Here’s to cold drinks and good books! Later, friends!