Friday, July 10, 2020

Books For Little Beach Bums (4)

It's always fun to share a beach themed book with your little one in anticipation of a beach trip or vacation. This year it may be different; you may find yourself not at the beach, but that doesn't mean you can't do some armchair traveling with your child.  Here are my favorite books for little beach bums.  You can't go wrong with these summertime reads:

Sounds of Nature: World of Oceans by Claire Grace
Steve, Terror of the Seas by Megan Brewis
Hum & Swish by Matt Myers
Strega Nona Takes a Vacation by Tomie dePaola
Ocean Meets Sky by Terry and Eric Fan
Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall
Plankton is Pushy by Jonathan Fenske
The Sandcastle That Lola Built by Megan Maynor
Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall
Llama Llama Land & Sun by Anna Dewdney
Pirate Boy by Eve Bunting
Look Inside: Seas and Ocean by Megan Cullis
Chu's Day at the Beach by Neil Gaiman and Adam Rex
Spot Goes to the Beach by Eric Hill
Swimmy by Leo Lionni
1, 2, 3....By the Sea by Diane Moritz

Baby's Very First Slide and See: Under the Sea by Usborne Books
The Seashore Book by Charlotte Zolotow
The Berenstain Bears Go On Vacation by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Pete the Cat: Pete at the Beach by James Dean
Beachy and Me by Bob Staake
The Whale in My Swimming Pool by Joyce Wan
A Hole in the Bottom of the Sea by Jessica Law
Just Grandma and Me by Mercer Mayer
The Magic School Bus: On the Ocean Floor by Joanna Cole  
Beach by Elisha Cooper
Flotsam by David Wiesner

A House for Hermit Crab by Eric Carle
Harry By the Sea by Gene Zion
On a Pirate Ship by Sarah Courtauld
Where is Baby's Beach Ball? by Karen Katz
A Day at the Seashore by Kathryn Jackson
Biscuit's First Beach Day by Alyssa Satin Capucilli
Baby Animals: In the Sea by Kingfisher Books
Moby Dick: A Baby Lit Ocean Primer by Jennifer Adams
Duck & Goose: Go tot he Beach by Tad Hills
Beach House by Deanna Caswell
Secrets of the Seashore by Carron Brown
Good Night Beach by Adam Gamble
Daniel's Day at the Beach by Becky Friedman

Are you familiar with any of these books? What are some of your favorite picture books all about the beach or pools?  Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Can't Wait Wednesday: The Mystery of Mrs. Christie

Can't Wait Wednesday is hosted by Wishful Endings and helps us spotlight upcoming releases we're eagerly anticipating!

The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict
Pub. Date: January 12, 2021

Goodreads says, "Marie Benedict, the beloved New York Times bestselling author of The Only Woman in the Room, uncovers the untold story of Agatha Christie’s mysterious eleven day disappearance.  In December 1926, Agatha Christie goes missing. Investigators find her empty car on the edge of a deep, gloomy pond, the only clues some tire tracks nearby and a fur coat left in the car—strange for a frigid night. Her husband and daughter have no knowledge of her whereabouts, and England unleashes an unprecedented manhunt to find the up-and-coming mystery author. Eleven days later, she reappears, just as mysteriously as she disappeared, claiming amnesia and providing no explanations for her time away.   The puzzle of those missing eleven days has persisted. With her trademark exploration into the shadows of history, acclaimed author Marie Benedict brings us into the world of Agatha Christie, imagining why such a brilliant woman would find herself at the center of such a murky story.   What is real, and what is mystery? What role did her unfaithful husband play, and what was he not telling investigators?   A master storyteller whose clever mind may never be matched, Agatha Christie’s untold history offers perhaps her greatest mystery of all."

I remember when I first learned of Agatha Christie's disappearance I couldn't believe it. This sounds like a fascinating read! What do you guys think?

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Book Review: The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin

Pages: 352
Genre: Adult Fiction
Pub. Date: June 2, 2020
Publisher: Ballantine
Source: Publisher for review
Other Books By Author:  First Comes Love, and
Something Borrowed
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "In the irresistible new novel from the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of All We Ever Wanted, a woman is falling hard for a man she's just met when he disappears without a trace on 9/11.  It's 2 a.m. in a dive bar on the Lower East Side, May 2001. Cecily figures it's the perfect place to order a beer and try to forget that she's just been dumped by the man she suspects she'll always think of as The One Who Got Away. Her best friend warned her to hunker down and avoid any risk of late-night drunk dialing, and she should have listened, because she's so tempted. . . .  "Don't do it," says the guy on the barstool next to her. "Don't call him."  He talks her off the ledge, and they have another beer. Then at last call, they toast to "moving on" before going their separate ways. Except as she's about to say goodbye, she decides to ask his name instead. And just like that, her life is changed forever.  But has she found her soulmate only to lose him a few months later?"

It's 2001 and Cecily Gardner has just broken up with her boyfriend. She's feeling low and can't sleep, so she decides to go grab a drink at her local bar in Manhattan.  While there, she hits it off with an attractive stranger who encourages her to not drunk dial her ex-boyfriend.  They hit it off and down a few more drinks before calling it a night.  Just as they are to part for the evening, they decide to spend a chaste night together.  And just like that could Cecily have met the one?  As she gets to know this man, who we find out is Grant Smith, she falls head over heels for him.  He seems almost perfect! Grant is dealing with a lot though.  He works on Wall Street, but is taking time off to take his brother to London for a clinical trial to help him with his ALS.  From there, the story develops all the while we know what happens in New York on September 11th.  Emily Giffin's The Lies That Bind kept me flipping the pages. Even though it wasn't my favorite of Giffin's novels, I still felt it was a decent summer read.

Cecily is pretty much your average New York woman. She is relatable despite some of her impulsive decisions in The Lies That Bind.  At first Grant seems perfect, but slowing he raises a lot of red flags, but love is blind, right? After September 11th, a few things come to the surface and I don't want to give too much away, but she soon learns the truth surrounding Grant.

The fact that 9/11 is featured in The Lies That Bind was a bit tough.  If you lived through it (and you weren't just a kid in elementary school), then it might be tough to revisit this upsetting time in our history.  It was brutal at times, especially Giffin's realistic depictions and if you know someone who tragically died on 9/11, this may be difficult for you.  However, I will say Giffin handled it well and the overall message is a positive one by the end of the novel.

The pace of the The Lies That Bind worked for me and Giffin's ability to tell a story is solid; however, I just didn't connect with it as much as her Darcy & Rachel series.  So, let me know your thoughts. Did you read The Lies That Bind? Are you a fan of Giffin's novels? Let me know in the comments below.

Friday, July 3, 2020

Audio Book Review: Normal People by Sally Rooney

Genre: Audio Book
Pub. Date: April 16, 2019
Publisher: Random House Audio
Source: Personal Copy
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Goodreads says, "At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school soccer team while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her housekeeping job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers - one they are determined to conceal.  A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years in college, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. Then, as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.  Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship."

Connell and Marianne live in Carricklea, Ireland, a small town in County Sligo.  Marianne's family is well off and her mother has a successful career; however, Connell, her schoolmate, lives with his mother in a small house and his mother cleans homes for a living, including Marianne's palatial house. So, they are foils of each other--where Connell's mother is warm and understanding, Marianne's home life is the opposite despite the gorgeous facade.  One thing they both have in common is the fact that they are both smart and perform well in school.  Connell is an athlete and has friends, but Marianne is a bit of a social outcast.  When Connell picks his mother up from Marianne's house an unlikely friendship forms between the two and their relationship turns to something more.  However, things are extremely complicated between the two of them. It would be social suicide for Connell to admit he has a relationship with Marianne, the outcast, and Marianne knows this and doesn't care. She is a bit infatuated with Connell, who appears to have it all: popularity, soccer skills, book smarts, and more. As college approaches, they both go to Trinity College in Dublin and while there their roles are reversed.  Marianne becomes the popular one with a gaggle of friends and Connell becomes a bit of a loner and a wallflower.  With this change, their relationship changes -- ebbing and flowing as the years go by.  One thing is for sure, their connection is a solid one and they find themselves gravitating towards each other despite the circumstances.  Normal People by Sally Rooney is a mesmerizing audio book that kept me totally invested in the story of two complicated, yet endearing people.  

Rooney creates such memorable characters in both Marianne and Connell.  They are very complicated, complex, but there's something about both of them that's very accessible in Normal People.  Marianne is very smart, but people don't accept her at school. She is always on the periphery, but Connell sees her for who she truly is. That doesn't mean he treats her well.  There were so many times I was furious at Connell for keeping their relationship hidden and I wanted Marianne to demand so much more as she deserves it, but things get, well, complicated.  For example, once they are at college, things change drastically as they always do.  Connell is a bit of an outcast in Marianne's world, where she has friends, intellectual conversations, and fits right in.  She tries to help Connell assimilate into the world of academia, but he struggles and, essentially, the tables have turned.

Readers can feel for Marianne and Connell despite the fact that they make poor decisions and don't communicate effectively in Normal People.  The lack of true communication has disastrous results from time to time and had me begging the characters to open up honestly for once.  Despite their blunders, they still find themselves feeling better together than apart as the years go by, but that doesn't mean they always ended up together.  Let's just say it's complicated and because it's complicated, the story can get a little depressing at times. 

The narrator of the audio book, Aoife McMahon, was decent and I found the time going by quickly when I was listening to Normal People.  I especially appreciated her authentic Irish accent.

Despite that the fact that the plot gets a bit dismal at times, I loved that Normal People examines social classes and how that impacts relationships.  It also illustrates how anxiety, the lack of communication, difficult emotions, and the need to be accepted can also have repercussions in a relationship as time goes on. Ultimately, I thought Normal People was a really thoughtful book and has the potential to be a modern classic.  

Have you read Normal People? Did you see the show on Hulu? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. 

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

What' I'm Reading Next (35)

July is one of my favorite months simply because of all the amazing beach reads that come out. Even though we are staying home this summer much more than usual, I am hoping some of these beach reads will transport me to a beautiful locale.  Here are the books I have my eye on this month:

1.  The Summer Deal by Jill Shalvis
If this cover doesn't scream bring me on vacation, I don't know what does???

2.  Second Home by Christina Clancy
I love the sound of this family saga that takes place on Cape Cod.

3.  Jackie and Maria by Gill Paul
I love all things Jackie, so I am really intrigued by this book.

4.  500 Miles From You by Jenny Colgan
Colgan writes such adorable books, I can't wait to check this one out that takes place in the Scottish Highlands.

5.  The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan
I can't wait to start book two of the Royal We. I absolutely LOVED the first book.

6.  House on Fripp Island by Rebecca Kaufman
Two families vacation on the South Carolina coast and there's some major drama and secrets.

7.  Home Before Dark by Riley Sager
I don't normally like to read scary thrillers, but this one has me intrigued and is getting a lot of early buzz.

What do you hope to read this month? Let me know in the comments below.  

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