Monday, July 31, 2023

weekending & the books I read in July

 


Happy Monday, friends! I'm linking up with Holly and Sarah for today's blog post. How was your weekend? Mine was wonderful!


Before I jump in, I wanted to let you know that this past Saturday (the 29th), I hosted the Share 4 Somethings post, and if you want to join in, it's not too late! The link will be open for two more weeks. If you've never participated in this, on the last Saturday of each month we share the things we loved, learned, read, ate/enjoyed. I'd love for you to join us! Here's the July edition of Share 4 SomethingsAdditionally, the Currently link party takes place on the first Wednesday of each month, which is this week, August 2nd, and we'll be sharing what we're currently loving, looking forward to, starting, thinking, and wearing. I hope you join us, we would love to have you! Both of these link parties are fun and fun to read. All I ask for each is that you link back to me and leave some comment love on the other blogs who participate. 


Now, back to the weekend. Every day starts off with puppy cuddles. Isn't Chloe sweet? She woke up with a swollen face on Friday, and her little eyes were almost swollen completely shut. I don't know if it's a teething thing, or if she was bitten by a bug, but I was told by a veterinarian to give her a Benadryl. She slept the rest of the day. 🤣 (She's going to the vet today, because it turns out she's also having another issue that needs to be addressed. Poor baby!)




My 92 year old dad comes over every Friday at 11:30. We love our time together, and I realize how blessed I am to have that time with him each week. I promise you that I do not take it for granted! Every week looks a little different, so I thought I'd share what we do. This week when he got here, we came inside and he settled in a comfy seat (with a cushion) at the kitchen table. I made us lunch this week, so I made grilled cheese sandwiches on wheat bread, and we had chips, and grapes. After lunch, we move into the living room and he gets comfortable on the couch with a blanket and a pillow behind his back, because his back usually hurts everyday. I always give him a few minutes to doze off, because he takes several naps each day. I use that time to clean the kitchen and to light a candle, if we're staying here. 


I also like to have soft music playing when he arrives, because it's known to have a calming effect on both people and animals. I usually have instrumental jazz, or a soft relaxing type of playlist going, like something by J.J. Heller. He loves her voice and she sings some of his old favorites, like Moon River and Edelweiss. We sit and talk, sometimes he naps, sometimes we watch videos of my choir singing songs, like last week when I played the song where I sang the solo on. Some weeks we go out to lunch, and because we ate here this time, we'll eat out the next time. I almost always like to have something to do with him while he's here, because it's good for us to be out together. This week we ran to Walgreens for a card he needed to buy, I drove my car through the car wash (he loves this as you can see below), then I went to Costco to get gas before taking him home. He usually likes to be home at 3:30, but this week it was 4:30. 




I always stay and visit with Sandy when I take him home, and this week I had a birthday gift for her. Her birthday is today! I came home for just a few minutes after I left his house, then I turned around and left again to meet one of my best friends for dinner. Andrea and I have been friends for about 13 years, and met when I was placed in her small group at a Bible study I attended while my boys went to homeschooling classes. 


We had an early night for once, and I came home to shower and get comfy, then settled in to watch a few episodes of the show I'm currently watching (When Calls the Heart). While I watched, I worked on getting the gel polish off my toes. I've been getting gel pedicures since my birthday back in December, and I was wanting to get away from doing that again. I loved it, don't get me wrong, because it would last for two months without chipping, but I honestly don't mind doing my own. And since I don't have a job now, it's always nice to save money. I was able to get most of the polish off, but I decided to go in Saturday morning for a polish change. For $15, they'll remove the old and paint them with a new color. I picked a beautiful OPI color called Quest for Quartz, which is a blush pink color. I have August in mind, because I'm getting my nails done this week, and I'm going more neutral again. (I have loved having neon nails all summer!)






Do you ever write out Scripture? I love doing this, and since August 1 is tomorrow, I'm going to start up again. I've done this for a few years, but I took a break from it this year. It's easy to do and I love writing it out, because it helps me to remember what I've read. I'd love it if you joined me!




I met up with my mom and sister that day for lunch and a few errands, then Trish and I had a dinner and movie night at my house on Saturday. We watched Book Club The Next Chapter, which I had high hopes for, but in my humble opinion was only mediocre. I really loved the first one and thought it was hard to beat. 




Look how much Crash loves Trish! They all do, but Crash adores her. 




It was an early night for me, because I had to be at church ready to sing the next morning at 8 a.m. This is the new dress I bought on Amazon! I am so impressed with the quality and the price. I mentioned this on Friday, but I also bought it in navy blue. In case you're interested, here's a link for the dress.





And for rest of Sunday, I took a short nap and watched more episodes of WCTH. 





And now onto the second portion of this post. I read some great books this month! Let me tell you about them—remember you can just click on each picture to be taken to a separate link to Amazon.


First up this month was The Secret Love Letters of Olivia Moretti, by Jennifer Probst.


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You'll remember that I read a book by her in June that will probably be in the top five of my favorite books for this year. This book is the second in the "series", but with different characters. Devon, Priscilla, and Bailey are three sisters who are not as close in relationship as they used to be. Some of that is due to hurt that one caused to another, and some of it is because of their expectations. Their mom has recently died, and as they're going through her house, they find a box of secret love letters from "R", along with the deed to a house they knew nothing about on the Amalfi coast. Determined to find out more about their mom's house and to settle up with getting that house ready to sell, they decide to take the trip of a lifetime. Plans changed almost as soon as they got there, and though they didn't necessarily find out what they set out looking for, what they did find was a new respect and admiration toward each other. Each sister has a certain chapter, and some chapters are the letters or the stories of their mom and this mysterious R, so we get to know Olivia through the years of her life. 


This is the second book I read by this author that surprised me in a good way. I didn't enjoy it quite as much as the first one I read by her last month, but it's a strong contender. I love the complicated relationships between women and moms/daughters/aunts/granddaughters. Once again, this author paints with words what I imagine the Amalfi coast would look like if I were there, with stunning descriptions and vibrant characters along the way. I really like this author and how she writes in a way that makes you able to see the place she's writing about.


Second was The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams.


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Who doesn't love a friends to lovers story? This is my second book by this author, and she's quickly becoming a new favorite of mine. Bree has been in love with her long time best friend Nathan since she was 17 years old, when they first met in high school. But friends is all they are, as they both date people throughout the years. Nathan is a professional football player these days and Bree is a ballet instructor for underprivileged kids in LA. One night when they're out celebrating a win for Nathan's team, Bree has a little bit too much to drink and spills her very secret feelings for Nathan to a very non-secret TMZ reporter, unbeknownst to her. Overnight, she becomes a TikTok sensation, so Nathan's managers decide to capitalize on the free advertising, and they come up with a plan to get Bree and Nathan to "date". They have to endure three weeks of this—surely they can do this and have their friendship come out unscathed? 


Here is why I love Sarah Adams. First, I adore every character she creates. They're all very likeable and personable, and she manages to make me swoon with every sweet word. Secondly, though she is definitely a romance author, she writes a very closed-door story, meaning we don't read about them having sex. Thirdly, this book surprised me with the views that Nathan had about sleeping around. She makes sure that chemistry oozes off of each page, but it's with words and heartfelt, meaningful gestures. For this girl who loves words of affirmation, these books are right up my alley. 


Next up was this one by another new-to-me author.


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Here's the description from Amazon: Meg Mackworth's hand lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing custom journals for her NYC clientele. She has another skill too: reading sign that other people miss. Knowing the upcoming marriage of Reid Sutherland and his polished fiancée was doomed to fail is one thing, but wearing a secret word of warning into their wedding program is another. Meg may have thought no one would spot it, but she hadn't counted on sharp eyed, pattern obsessed Reid. A year later, he has tracked her down to find out she knew that his marriage would never succeed. With a looming deadline and a bad case of creative blog, Meg doesn't have time for Reid's questions, unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other, both try to ignore the deepening connection between them. But the signs are there: the irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it's too late... 


This book came with very high expectations! It's one of the best books of 2020, according to the Kirkus Best Fiction list, and on PopSugar's crazy popular book of the year list. It had all the elements of a great story, but it fell very, very flat after the excellent books I read this month. I didn't really care for either Meg or Reid, and I never really learned anything about either of them, except that one had family troubles, and the other came from a huge and loving family. There wasn't tons of conversing happening, just lots of walking and studying signs and talking about the fonts and sizes of them. (Insert gif image of girl rubbing her temples from exhaustion.) 


Next on the list was this one by a favorite author, one that I had pre-ordered!


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This is the story of two best friends and their daughters. Allison and Jess have been best friends for as long as they can remember, and they grew up on the Cape together. Allison and her daughter Julia have stayed in the Chatham area their whole lives, but Jess and her daughter Caitlin are solidly planted in Charleston. When Jess finds out about her husband's affair, Allison talks her into coming back to Chatham for the summer, and Caitlin wants to go with her as well, As their friendship picks back up where it left off, they learn that the local bookstore owner wants to sell her shop that's been open for years. These two friends make the decision to buy it together and to try and keep it afloat. The summer goes on and Jess and Caitlin find that maybe their home isn't in Charleston anymore. Should they go home? Should they stay in Chatham? Each of the four of them have some significant things happen to them over the course of a few weeks that is really making them think long and hard. 


I liked this book and I did rate it with 4 stars, but this is not my favorite Pamela Kelley book. My favorites that she has written are the Beach Plum Cover series, The Restaurant, and The Hotel. I did love these characters, but I liked her other characters even more. Even so, I'm a forever fan of Pamela Kelley books and will continue to pre-order them as she writes. This one showed up on my Kindle the morning that it released and I was (im)patiently waiting to read it after finishing some I'd borrowed from the library. 



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I adored this book by new-to-me author Sophie Cousens. Here is what Good Reads said about this book: Hopeless romantic and lifestyle reporter Laura's business trip to the Channel Islands isn't off to a great start. After an embarrassing encounter with the most attractive man she's ever seen in real life, she arrives at her hotel and realizes she's grabbed the wrong suitcase from the airport. Her only consolation is its irresistible contents, each of which intrigues her more and more. The owner of this suitcase is clearly her dream man. Now all she has to do is fine him. What are the odds that she'd find The One on the same island where her parents first met and fell in love, especially as she sets out to write an article about their romance? Commissioning surly cab driver Ted to ferry her around seems like the best bet in both tracking down the mystery suitcase owner and retracing her parents' footsteps. But as her dream man proves difficult to find, and as she uncovers more family secrets, she may have to reimagine the life and love she always thought she wanted.


This book was super cute, and felt like a Hallmark movie. Even so, I loved it and loved how everything turned out, though I had it all figured out pretty early in the book. I still recommend it, if you're looking for another light read.


Next up was another much anticipated summer read!


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Harriet and Wyn have been the perfect couple since they met in college. They go together like salt and pepper, honey and tea, lobster and rolls. Except now, for reasons they're still not discussing, they don't. They broke up five months ago and still haven't told their best friends, which is how they find themselves sharing a bedroom at the Maine cottage that has been their friend group's getaway for the last decade. Their annual respite from the world, where for one blissful week they leave behind their daily lives; they have copious amounts of cheese, wine, and seafood; and they soak up the salty coastal air with the people who understand them most. This year, Harriet and Wyn are lying through their teeth while trying not to notice how much they still love each other. They can't stand to break their friends' hearts, and so they will play their parts. After years of being in love, how hard can it be to fake it for one last week, in front of those who they love most?


This was a much anticipated book of the summer for me, thanks to a friend that I worked with at school. I loved the premise of this story—old friends getting together for one last hurrah at the beach cottage they've vacationed at the last ten years. It did get a little predictable, but I am glad I read it and I really did enjoy the book. 


And lastly, I read the newest Liz Fenton & Lisa Steinke book.


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When their newly engaged kids ask all four divorced parents to meet each other over brunch, everyone RSVPs yes, secretly hoping someone at the table will get to the bottom of the bottomless drinks fast enough to say what they're all thinking: that this engagement is too much, too soon. Imagine the shock of finding out that they already knew each other as best friends and secret lovers. Rivalries come to light, and age-old secrets make their way known. Will the young couple be able to put all of that aside and marry?


Sounds good, right? Especially when you read, "Father of the Bride meets Bride Wars" in the reviews. It was terrible. TERRIBLE. The only reason I rated it two stars is because I forced myself to finish it since it was a book I'd preordered. UGH. 


On a lighter note, I'm reading two great books right now and can't wait to share about them in August. What have you been reading lately? I'd love to know! Thanks for reading this very long post, my friends. I'll see you back here tomorrow for some dinner inspiration! Love to all. 💙💚

14 comments:

  1. Looks like a full and wonderful weekend! I loved your description of a Friday with your dad. I think people think it has to be really complicated, but what you plan for him each week is beautiful and honors where he is at this stage. I think the puppies are really good for him! Poor Chloe. She is just a doll and I would not get much done and want her in my lap all day.
    I loved your book review. I agree about Sarah Adams - well written chick lit. I may have to actually buy more or her books because my library doesn't have all the ones I want to read. I had to return Love Lettering because I had too many library books so now I guess I'm not missing much! Ha! I am really into Meet me at the Lake by Carley Fortune right now. Did you read Every Summer After?

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  2. Amy, it was so good! You're right about things not having to be perfect or complicated when it comes to having people or family over. Dad and I used to do so much more each week, but we had to slow things way down. I'm okay with this and I never mind a slower pace. I have to let him have time for a nap or two, because he gets sleepy after lunch. Thank you for your sweet words!

    I ADORE Sarah Adams! I think that's thanks to you. When in Rome was my first by her, but they keep getting better! The Cheat Sheet was my favorite book of the month. I loved Every Summer After, but I probably won't read Meet Me by the Lake, due to what people keep saying...it's interesting to me how authors can write such different books and how one will be good and another not so much. I'm reading a good one right now, but I didn't finish it in time for the July book review. Did you move on from the new Fortune book?

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  3. That dress is so cute! I am going to check it out. I know your dad appreciates being out of the house, so he probably enjoys anything y'all do together. What a special time.

    And your poor puppy! It sounds like she was bitten or ate something toxic to her.

    I used to love WCTH, but kind of lost track the season after they kicked Lori Laughlin off. I'll have to find it again.

    Lots of good books! Thanks for sharing all the info.

    Have a great Monday!

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  4. Thanks, Debbie! I loved the dress, especially because it is SO COMFY. I love things that are pretty and comfortable. You are right about my dad -- we can do anything together, and he would love it, regardless of the activity. I hope you have a great day, my friend!

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  5. You care for your dad so well and all of these days will be treasured! I am sure Sandy appreciates you so much for loving him well and she gets a little time as well on Fridays. I love the idea of the music playing and candles. That does help with the setting.
    Also, I need to give our dog benedryl some days, ha!
    I am glad you had such a good weekend!

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  6. I loved hearing about your routine with your dad. I know he must enjoy that time and give Sandy a break too. It sounds like you had some real book winners for July. Thanks for the dress link!

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  7. Ok you look stunning and so fit in that dress! Thanks for sharing your reads- I have a few on my list :)

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  8. Thanks for sharing your day with Dad with us - what sweet times I know they must be for you. For both of you! You are making me miss my own dad. How I would love to have the opportunity to make similar memories!! You look so pretty for church. Love your new dress! Hope you week is already off to a great start....oh and that Chloe is feeling 100 percent quickly!!

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  9. I am loving these book reviews! I found a few new ones to add to my list.

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  10. Thanks, Marilyn! Your Benadryl comment and your dog made me laugh out loud. I've thought about the same for our other dogs, trust me!

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  11. Thanks, Tanya! I'm just surprised I remembered to link it, honestly. You never know these days! 🤪

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  12. Thank you, Holly! I can't wait to hear about your trip to NYC!

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  13. Jennifer, the times really are sweet with him. Thank you for that! Chloe is good, we just heard back from the vet. We're relieved! We thought she was having a prolapse issue, but that's not the case and all is well. I'm excited to see her tonight!

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  14. Joanne, good! That's how I always feel when it comes to book reviews. I love getting ideas of new ones to read!

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