Sunday, May 28, 2023

The Sunday Salon: It's Memorial Day Weekend!

Hello, friends. It's Memorial Day weekend, and we are back in Connecticut. The above photo was taken on our last evening in Sanibel. It made me happy to finally see a few whisps of sea oats returning to our dunes. Imagine what it will look like after an entire rainy season!

Our trip north was, thankfully, uneventful. The highlight was a stop in Pennsylvania to visit my brother and his family. We haven't spent much time together since before the pandemic, so this was a real treat. We enjoyed a day at Longwood Gardens... such a beautiful place! It has inspired me to get to work on the small flower gardens here. More on that project throughout the summer...

The first few days back have been all about cleaning, doing laundry, getting groceries... the usual drill. This morning we took a break to go out to brunch. I'm going to check in on my book-loving friends' blogs next, then spend the rest of the afternoon reading in my zero gravity lounger.

Recent reading//

I haven't had any reading time in over a week, so there's nothing to report here. Prior to the trip I tried a couple of books, but just couldn't focus on anything... not even a light beach read!

Current reading//

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

When the going gets tough, I can always count on Jane! Yes, I am reading Pride and Prejudice  yet again...  and loving every single sentence. The audio edition narrated by Rosamund Pike is available free in the audible plus catalog, so I've even listened to parts of it this time around. I'm nearly 80% done and plan to finish today. It is still my favorite novel!

Up next//

Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry

This book, beloved by so many readers, has been on my "to read" list for literally decades... and I'm finally going to tackle it this summer! I'm not really into westerns but from what I understand, that doesn't seem to matter. My kindle is loaded and ready to go, plus I found the audio available on hoopla. I'll get started this week... wish me luck!

The week ahead//

Tomorrow we'll go to the local Memorial Day parade, continue cleaning out the flower beds, and prepare the traditional barbecue. I'm certain there will be at least a couple of trips to the garden store this week, too.

How was your week? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.


Sunday, May 14, 2023

A Mother's Day Sunday Salon: May 14. 2023

Hello, friends, and Happy Mother's Day to all the mothers out there! We started our day with a short beach walk and a delicious brunch at home. This afternoon I'm planning some quiet reading time on the lanai... something that hasn't happened in what feels like a very long time. Later on, we'll go out for dinner.

The past week has been a buzz of activity around here. The big news is that we have sheetrock! After a couple of very loud days, they finished hanging sheetrock downstairs. This week they'll get it ready for priming, then eventually painting. The exterior garage wall that blew out during the hurricane has been rebuilt, stuccoed and is now ready for paint. We're still waiting for the siding above it to be replaced. It's a process!

Recent reading//

An excellent book! This is a comprehensive, objective look at the Supreme Court from roughly the death of Antonin Scalia in February 2016 through the most recent term. There is a lot of information here, so I read it slowly. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the Court. I'm planning to post a full review later this week.

Currently NOT reading//

K√ľnstlers in Paradise by Cathleen Schine

I've enjoyed a few of Cathleen Schine's novels in the past, but had a hard time getting into this one. Perhaps that's because I was wholly absorbed in the Supreme Court book above, had a houseguest, and contractors were in and out all day. Anyway, it finally grabbed me around the 30% mark, but then the ebook was clawed back to the library at 40%. Now I'm back on the hold list... we'll see what happens when my turn comes again.

About to start//

Happy Place by Emily Henry

Emily Henry has been hit or miss for me. I loved Book Lovers  last summer, but abandoned People We Meet on Vacation the year before. My current mood likely has a lot to do with any reaction, but I think something light and fun is in order this week!

The week ahead//

After a hurricane-shortened season, this will be our last full week in Florida. The winter/spring has been all about clean-up and recovery, plus just enough time with friends to keep us all sane. There is still plenty more to do when we come back but, considering the extent of the damage, I am pleased with the progress.

I'm hoping to post a review for Nine Black Robes  sometime this week and then I'll check in from CT at the end of the month.

How was  your week? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Sunday, May 7, 2023

Sanibel Sunday: May 7, 2023

Hello, friends. It's another sunny Sunday on Sanibel, but rainy season is right around the corner. We visited the Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge this morning in hopes of seeing the roseate spoonbills we've missed all season. A facebook post reported them on a sandbar yesterday morning, along with majestic white pelicans. Unfortunately we did not spot either species today, but did see a few yellow-crowned night herons, racoons, an alligator, and assorted ducks. We were among the only people around, so it was an incredibly peaceful morning.

I appreciated the stillness after another week of construction, appointments, and helping my SIL prepare for her move. Some of her furniture will be delivered to our house later this week to replace what we lost on our lower level from Hurricane Ian. With all of that, I did not finish any books last week.

Current reading//

Nine Black Robes by Joan Biskupic

As I mentioned last week, I've been limiting myself to a chapter per day with this book. There really is a lot of information to absorb, plus reading much more than that tends to make me angry. Just one chapter and the epilogue left, so I'll finish within the next day or two.

K√ľnstlers in Paradise by Cathleen Schine

I considered setting this novel aside early on, but I've enjoyed a couple of Schine's other novels so persevered. It started paying off around the 30% mark. I'm 40% in now.

On the blog//

In the kitchen//

Since the Coconut Chicken Fingers with Bang Bang Sauce was such a hit a couple of weeks ago, I tried another Half Baked Harvest  recipe for Baked Crunchy Pretzel Honey Balsamic Chicken, which is basically just a variation. It was good, but nowhere near the crowd pleaser of the previous week. None of us really liked the sauce much, which was surprising since I usually love a honey balsamic combination. I think it would have been much better with a light honey mustard sauce. Next time...

The week ahead//

A night out with friends, a couple of appointments, furniture delivery from my SIL's place, and a farewell dinner before my SIL's Saturday departure. We've also been assured that the lower level sheetrock will be hung this week... my fingers are crossed!

That's it for my week... what's new with you? What have you been reading?

The Sunday Salon is hosted by Deb at Readerbuzz.
It's Monday, What Are You Reading? is hosted by Kathryn at Book Date.

Saturday, May 6, 2023

Thoughts on IF WE'RE BEING HONEST by Cat Shook


Celadon Books, 2023
304 pages

Motivation for reading:  The publisher recommends this title for fans of We Are the Brennans  by Tracey Lange and All Adults Here  by Emma Straub - both of which were 4-star reads for me. Plus, Annie Jones reviewed it favorably on her From the Front Porch  podcast. 

Source: goodreads giveaway

Publisher's summary:
When Gerry, the beloved Williams patriarch, dies suddenly, his grandchildren flock from across the country to the family home in Eulalia, Georgia. But when Gerry’s best friend steps up to the microphone to deliver his eulogy, the funeral turns out unlike anyone expected. The cousins, left reeling and confused, cope with their fresh grief and various private dramas. Delia, recently heartbroken, refuses to shut up about her ex. Her sister Alice, usually confident, flusters when she spots her high school sweetheart, hiding a secret that will change both of their lives. Outspoken, affable Grant is preening in the afterglow of his recent appearance on The Bachelorette and looking to reignite an old flame with the least available person in town. Meanwhile, his younger brother Red, unsure of himself and easily embarrassed, desperately searches for a place in the boisterous family.

The cousins’ eccentric parents are in tow, too, and equally lost—in love and in life. Watching over them all is Ellen, Gerry’s sweet and proper widow, who does her best to keep her composure in front of the leering small town.

Clever and completely original, If We’re Being Honest  reminds you that while no one can break your heart like your family can, there’s really no one better to put you back together.

My thoughts:

This book opens with the most memorable funeral scene I have ever encountered! Beyond that, the novel is filled with family secrets, drama, and, perhaps most importantly, love. 

The patriarch has died and the plot, which takes place over the course of a week, involves his widow, their three children, and four adult grandchildren. A family tree is included, which I found helpful in keeping track of the smaller family units as I got to know the characters... and my affection for this novel grew right alongside my understanding of those characters.

Although the siblings' stories were interesting, I think the four grandchildren (late 20s-early 30s) took center stage. They are all struggling with various issues and assorted secrets you might expect from this age group. But what really stood out was the genuine affection and caring the cousins exhibited toward one another... such a pleasure to read.

Perhaps the ending was wrapped up a little too perfectly, but this novel was still a delight. I truly enjoyed being present for a week in the life of the Williams clan!

My rating:
Somewhere between 3.5 and 4, but going with 4 because I enjoyed the reading experience.


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