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by Donna Huber For the A to Z Challenge, I discussed different book genres/categories. Each day, I gave a few details about the genre/catego...

May 30, 2021

Wrapping Up Spring Reading - May Update

by Donna Huber

I don't know about you but May went really fast. It was busy as life returns to normal and it seems like I have more to do now than I did before the pandemic.

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Life Update...

So now that I'm fully vaccinated I'm getting back to doing stuff. Unfortunately, I had found things to fill the extra time I had during the pandemic that I don't want to give up. I'm going to have to find a balance because I'm physically exhausted. I'm so glad I have a three-day weekend though so far I haven't caught up on any sleep or reading for that matter as my to-do list just keeps growing.

I've been to the garden stores a few times this month and I went into Barnes & Nobles. I had a gift card and I totally splurged on something that I've wanted for a long time but would never spend my own money on - illustrated Harry Potter. I got Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets - I can't stop grinning when I look at them because I'm so happy to have them. They are gorgeous.

Another thing I did this month that I haven't done since the pandemic started - I went inside a restaurant to eat. I went to Panera for lunch one Saturday as it isn't crowded on the weekends. The few people inside were all spread out and everyone was still being careful. I also attended my Ladies Homestead Gathering meeting in person last week. It was outside on a member's farm so I felt that was a good way to ease myself back into social events.

I'm hoping now that we are moving into summer that things will slow down. Spring is always so busy with trying to get the yard ready and planting. I'm growing some herbs on my front patio and on the back deck I have pots with tomatoes, green peppers, and eggplants. I'm hoping to get the garden beds ready in my "secret garden" area in time for fall planting. But first I need to hire someone to take down 4 trees.

I'm continuing my French lessons on DuoLingo and tomorrow I will complete my third month of practicing yoga every day with Yoga with Adrienne. It was hard this month with so much focus on the core muscles.

Blog Update...

We have been busy on the blog this month. As usual, we have a mix of older titles and new releases. Here are the posts that have been most popular.

Popular on Bookstagram

Our libraries are back to being fully open so I ran in to get the free book my book club is discussing later next month. While there I couldn't help but snap a quick photo of the colorful piano sitting outside. That picture was the most liked post on our Instagram page.

Books Update...

After having some record-setting reading months during the Pandemic, I'm just slightly above my pre-pandemic average number of books read. However, it is more like books listened to. I just can't seem to find the time to sit down to read a book so my audiobook listening is way up. Good news though is that Netgalley finally fixed the app so that I can log in and listen to ARCs of audiobooks. 

Books in the Mailbox

I received a couple of books in the mail this month. The Grumpy Frumpy Croissant by Mona K is a young reader book with activities. I'll be reviewing it next month. Both Susan and MK reviewed The Clover Girls (read the reviews here and here) and after reading their reviews, I was jealous that I hadn't read it. I participated in the launch campaign and was given a copy - YAY!

Book Mail

Books Read

I read or listened to 13 books this month: 5 ebooks and 8 audiobooks. I might finish the audiobook I'm currently listening to today. Here's how I'm doing on my goals:
  1. Read more or as many reviews copies: 7/13 (YTD: 41/58)
  2. Read 12 backlog (prior to 2021) review copies: 0 (YTD: 1)
  3. Read/listen to 125 books: 58/125 (I'm 6 books ahead of schedule)

Here's a closer look at the 11 books I read or listened to this month.

Family Reunion by Nancy Thayer

For me, summer starts when I've read Nancy Thayer's new beach read. I wasn't sure if I was going to like this book. Eleanor was the only character I liked right from the start. Her grown children Alicia and Cliff just seemed like money-hungry immature adults. It felt a little too much like the prodigal son who wanted his inheritance before his father was even dead. I still don't think I care much for Alicia or Cliff at the end of the book. But I enjoyed Ari and Beck, Beach Camp, and Silas. So they made up for the few times the other showed up. More so than ever, I really want to visit Nantucket. I received a free ARC from the publisher via Netgalley. Read my full review.

Buy Family Reunion at Amazon

The Second Sleep by Robert Harris

If my book club hadn't chosen this book I probably never would have picked it up. It was interesting at first, but about halfway through I just lost interest in the plot and the characters. It just wasn't my kind of story. The discussion was pretty good. I checked the audiobook from my digital library.
The Second Sleep

Buy The Second Sleep at Amazon

Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan

I've wanted to read Jenny Colgan for a while but just haven't had the time. I noticed that the digital library had one of her books in audio and decided now was the time to listen to it. Really enjoyed this book. It made me want to bake bread the whole time. The characters were great and now I want to open my own little bakeshop. 
Little Beach Street Bakery

The Newcomer by Mary Kay Andrews

A bit of a tense read but enjoyable. I loved last year's summer book Hello, Summer and knew it would be a hard act to follow. I enjoyed the characters as the story is set at a motel that has a number of "snowbirds" - retirees who reside in Florida during the winter months. They are a quirky bunch that constantly insert levity into the story. I also really liked the owner's son Joe (the whole family is pretty great). I received a free ARC via Netgalley. Read my full review.  
The Newcomer

Buy The Newcomer at Amazon

Pawsitively Poisonous by Melissa Erin Jackson

I usually only read paranormal cozies during October but this one popped up on YouTube (the author's channel) and since I was between audiobooks I gave it a go. I enjoyed the characters and I think the series has real potential. I would definitely listen to another book. The narrator did a great job.
Pawsitively Poisonous

Buy Pawsitively Poisonous at Amazon
(the ebook is free)

Auntie Poldi and the Lost Madonna by Mario Giordano

I missed a few of the books between the first one and this one but that's okay. One, it seems like a relatively short period of time between the books. And two, it can really be read as a standalone. If you want to try translated fiction and enjoy cozy mysteries, then this is a great book to read. I received a free ARC via Netgalley. Read my full review.
Auntie Poldi and the Lost Madonna

Pawsitively Cursed by Melissa Erin Jackson

A fun paranormal cozy mystery. It feels like there is a lot going on in this book and I kept being interrupted. As it isn't easy as easy to rewind to a spot as it is to flip back a few pages, I'm sure a missed some pieces of the story. But overall it was enjoyable and would be great for my Halloween binge reading. I listened to the audiobook on the author's YouTube channel.
Pawsitively Cursed

Buy Pawsitively Cursed at Amazon

Pawsitively Suspiciousby Melissa Erin Jackson

If you want to hear how Amber and the police chief met or want to get a taste of Jackson's writing before investing several hours in an audiobook, then Pawsitively Suspicious is a nice introduction. It's only 40 minutes long. I listened to the YouTube exclusive audiobook on the author's channel.
Pawsitively Suspicious

A Peculiar Combination by Ashley Weaver

I was excited to see Ashley Weaver had a new series coming out. That it was set during one of my favorite time periods to read about - WWII - is a bonus While I like the Amory Ames series, I think I liked this one a bit more. And not just because of the setting. I enjoyed the characters more. I received a free ARC via Netgalley. Read my full review.
A Peculiar Combination

Buy A Peculiar Combination at Amazon

Victoria's War by Catherine A. Hamilton

Victoria's War tells the story of two women who to the world seem to be helpless but stand up to the evil spreading through their countries during WWII. I really liked the characters. The audiobook was well done. The story was easy to follow even with moderate distractions. I received a free audiobook ARC via Netgalley. Read my full review.
Victoria's War

Buy Victoria's War at Amazon

You're All Mine by Ruth Harrow

I spent most of the book feeling confused. I couldn't tell if scenes were in the present or flashbacks. But most of my confusion stemmed from the blurb being slightly misleading. I didn't really feel the tension that a suspense novel usually envokes. If you like the domestic thrillers of B.A. Paris then I recommend trying this book. I received a free audiobook via Audiobookworm Promotions. My full review will be published in June as part of the tour.
You're All Mine

Buy You're All Mine at Amazon

Under the Sea: A World Like No Other by Seeker

I have only listened to a couple of nonfiction books but I have to say this didn't feel like I was listening to an audiobook. It felt like a cross between a podcast and a TED Talk. It was interesting and the science was very accessible. If you have a middle-grades or high school child interested in the ocean then they would like this book and understand the information. It's short, too - only about 1 hour. A free audiobook was provided via Netgalley. Read my full review.
Under the Sea

Buy Under the Sea at Amazon

Going Greek by Sue Roberts

A good summery chick-lit/women's fiction story. I didn't really like the main character (she's a bit too whiny for me) so it made it hard to get into the story as it is basically her talking to the reader. I would have liked a bit more showing and less telling. I loved the setting - reminded me of the Durrells in Corfu with the colorful village life. I received a free ARC via Netgalley. Read my full review.
Going Greek

Buy Going Greek at Amazon

And that is what happened in May. How was your month?

Donna Huber is an avid reader and natural encourager. She is the founder of Girl Who Reads and the author of how-to marketing book Secrets to a Successful Blog Tour.

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  1. I'm getting out more now that I am completely vaccinated, but I am still feeling very tense about doing so. I want very much to go to the garden center, and I'm not sure why I haven't. Maybe this week.

    I am practicing my French off and on, and I would love to get into a regular routine of yoga. Love that piano. The piano speaks to a better world.

    I haven't read Auntie Poldi books, but they do look gentle and fun.

    1. Auntie Poldi is a fun character. I'm not sure how reliable of a narrator she is as she gets into some almost unbelievable trouble at times. She seems like a character that would embellish her stories.

  2. Those illustrated editions look wonderful, enjoy!

    Wishing you a great reading week

  3. Great list of books! I also feel like spring got a bit overwhelming with pandemic life and "normal" life colliding. I have 2 more weeks of work (school) and then summer break and I am really looking forward to it even though I'll teach summer school.

  4. Now that I'm fully vaccinated, I've been sort of getting back to normal.

    I have The Clover Girls to read and it looks good. I love Nancy Thayer so I have to add that one to my list too.

    I hope you have a great week!

  5. May did go quickly and I agree with you that it has a lot to do with getting back to normal life. I think a lot of us will be re-evaluating what normal looks like and what things we really didn't miss during the pandemic. I still haven't eating indoors yet, but probably will soon. YOu read lots of great books this month, too!

  6. Our libraries have been fully open for quite a while now. I've been going to the library since I was a kid and not being able to go was very tough for me.

    I LOVE that piano!

    I almost added Family Reunion and The Stepsisters to my 20 Books Of Summer list. If I decide to stop reading one on my list I may substitute one of them.

  7. I love a good paranormal cozy mystery! I definitely need to check out that series you mentioned. Love those covers!

  8. That piano is gorgeous! Looking at your list of books, I'm most interested in the Auntie Poldi one.

    Visiting from the Monthly Wrap-up, at #8

  9. Glad you are fully vaccinated! It's such a nice feeling to feel more protected and more comfortable doing things in public again. Looks like you are planning on growing some yummy herbs and veggies. We've got a CSA this summer but I'm still growing a small cherry tomato plant and a jalapeno plant on my side yard. The last few years have not been kind on our little gardens so I hope this year is different! lol

    Looks like some great books you have there too!

  10. May always seems busy and felt especially so this year. I just got around to planting some flowers and the selection at the store was awful. I guess many people planted early this year.

    Looks like you had a great month of reading. You had some great summery reads that I will check out.

    Have a great June!

  11. I thought it would be weird getting back out into the world now that we're fully vaccinated, but it actually felt great once I relaxed. Haha! We also ate in a restaurant for the first time, and I visited my first book store in over a year.

    Congrats on a great reading month. Happy reading in June!

  12. Wow you were quite busy in May! I have yet to really go out anywhere new (I still go to grocery stores and such, but nothing else really), which is kind of a bummer. Glad you were able to treat yourself to books you have been wanting, and it is awesome that you are doing yoga AND learning French! Talk about wonderful accomplishments! Hope you have a wonderful June, too!

  13. I love the illustrated HP books.
    Yay for being fully vaccinated, but yes, suddenly starting to do more outside of the house really can make you tired!


  14. I have the illustrated HP books too, and they're so gorgeous!

    I hope you find time to do everything you love!

    Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction

  15. I love the illustrated HP books but I haven't bought any. I think since the Goblet of Fire was my favorite book, I might buy that one though.
    Lisa Loves Literature

  16. The illustrated HPs are fantastic. It's such a great way to bring new life to the story!

  17. My state just fully opened up today and I know it's going to take me awhile to relax and fully resume my pre-pandemic lifestyle. I started slowly today with an in-person exercise class for the first time. Then tomorrow I plan on grocery shopping without a mask. I too have found a new daily routine that I have to evaluate whether or not I want to ever go back to "normal."