Little Free Love – Charter 103767

Miles away from home: 46 miles.
Time to get there: 57 minutes.

Located in Ocean City, New Jersey. This adorable LFL is found 3 blocks off the beach, surrounded by countless boutiques, restaurants and as many ice cream stores as you could count.

Since I went during the fall, it wasn’t very crowded on this chilly day “down the shore” as we call it here in New Jersey. It took a little over an hour to get there from where I live, but it was well worth it to see all of the LFLs located in this amazing town of Ocean City.

There were a lot of cute books in this LFL. I think my favorite, personally, was the Elin Hilderbrand book, Silver Girl. There was something about seeing that book located in a shore town right on the coast. Definitely gave me the best beach vibes even though we’re in cold territory now in New Jersey.

The Friendship List by Susan Mallery

Publication Date: August 4, 2020
Publisher: Harlequin Books
Rating: ★★★★

Single mom Ellen Fox couldn’t be more content—until she overhears her son saying he can’t go to his dream college because she needs him too much. If she wants him to live his best life, she has to convince him she’s living hers.

So Unity Leandre, her best friend since forever, creates a list of challenges to push Ellen out of her comfort zone. Unity will complete the list, too, but not because she needs to change. What’s wrong with a thirtysomething widow still sleeping in her late husband’s childhood bed?

The Friendship List begins as a way to make others believe they’re just fine. But somewhere between “wear three-inch heels” and “have sex with a gorgeous guy,” Ellen and Unity discover that life is meant to be lived with joy and abandon, in a story filled with humor, heartache and regrettable tattoos.

Review:

Thank you NetGalley, Harlequin Books & Susan Mallery for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

Ellen Fox is a single mom whose son is about to finish high school. When Ellen overhears her son telling a friend that he can’t leave his mother and go away for college, she knows it’s because he feels responsible for her. Unity Leandre is stuck in the past. After becoming a widow 3 years ago, she finds herself sleeping in his childhood home. She hasn’t been able to move on from losing her husband. These two best friends need to make a change and the current issues in their lives are enough to make them start dating again. This is where Unity creates “The Friendship List”.

The Friendship List is an engaging story between friendship and romance. This novel was definitely more steamy than other Susan Mallery novels that I’ve read. There is no way that this a bad thing in my opinion because I thought it was written really well. The steam almost takes the front seat of this novel which was surprising, but the friendship and overcoming tragedy parts were truly uplifting.

The main characters are Ellen and Unity, but we learn a lot about the other characters. Keith, Thaddeus, Cooper, Lisa and Dagmar are all important characters in this story. I’m not usually someone that likes that many characters because I find it hard to keep up with all of the information of each individual, but Susan Mallery did a great job with making sure every character had their own things to make them stand out. Also, if you’re looking for your next book boyfriend, it’s definitely Thaddeus.

Overall, this book was a quick, cozy read despite the summer vibes this book gives off. I really liked the story behind it all and I liked the steam as well. It was definitely unexpected but in a good way. I would recommend this book to romance lovers who like a slow burn with sultry tones.

Little Free Love – Charter 99362

Located in Pittsgrove, New Jersey. I found this little free library to be absolutely outstanding. The gears on the post were the perfect compliment to the robot they have on sight.

Parvin Farms had a guest book to sign and wipes to ensure cleanliness during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This cute library box was super easy to find and right off the main road. You can pull over and hop right out of the car. This area was significantly different than the fast-paced, everything close-to-each-other area where I’m from. This was a beautiful, massive farmland where you can tell there is a tight-knit community.

There were an assortment of books, from children’s to adult fiction. I saw a lot of goodies in there, but decided to leave them for other excited bookish people! There were bookmarks and the library was very full for people to come pick from!

Only 3 minutes away by car, Parvin State Park is a 465-acre area that loops around South Jersey’s pinelands. There’s a lake and a campground with 4-mile hiking trails.

Parvin State Park served as a home for the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1933-1941. This was a voluntary public relief program designed to help provide jobs for those affected by the Great Depression.

Overall, I adored this Little Free Library and the area! It was very peaceful and somewhere I could see myself going again! Check out Little Free Love on Instagram to see all of the LFLs that I’ve been going to!

Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust

Publication Date: July 7, 2020
Publisher: MacMillan Audio
Rating: ★★★★

There was and there was not, as all stories begin, a princess cursed to be poisonous to the touch. But for Soraya, who has lived her life hidden away, apart from her family, safe only in her gardens, it’s not just a story.

As the day of her twin brother’s wedding approaches, Soraya must decide if she’s willing to step outside of the shadows for the first time. Below in the dungeon is a demon who holds knowledge that she craves, the answer to her freedom. And above is a young man who isn’t afraid of her, whose eyes linger not with fear, but with an understanding of who she is beneath the poison.

Soraya thought she knew her place in the world, but when her choices lead to consequences she never imagined, she begins to question who she is and who she is becoming…human or demon. Princess or monster.

Review:

Thank you to Melissa Bashardoust, NetGalley & MacMillan Audio for a copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

I was thoroughly shocked that I enjoyed this novel as much as I did. I am not a fantasy lover, but I really loved this story. There was a lot going on, but I’ll tell you, I think the narrator of this audiobook was the biggest reason why I loved it so much.

This was the first Melissa Bashardoust novel that I’ve read. I feel like the synopsis says as much as it can without giving anything away, but I will still blown away by her writing. As I was reading, I feel like this was either a two-story book or a trilogy wrapped into one book. The main reason why I gave this story a 4-star rating instead of 5-stars is because it was paced a little slow. In the beginning, I had a harder time getting into it, but as I listened on, there were plenty of interesting things going on.

There were a lot of things that will test your emotions in this novel. Between Soraya’s battles and the love story behind the main trope, you’re going to be wondering how everything fit so perfectly together. It was truly spectacular to be able to keep up with everything that was going on because of the writing and how everything meshed together so well. If this were to be turned into a movie, I’d watch it in a heartbeat.

“Sometimes the princess is a monster.”

Now, onto the narrator of the audiobook. I received this as a part of NetGalley moving into audiobooks from MacMillan Audio. The narrator, Nikki Massoud, truly made this story come to life while listening to it. She made those twists and turns in this novel really amazing with her voice and it sounded like I was watching a tv show versus listening to an audiobook. I will gladly listen to all of the books that Nikki Massoud has narrated.

Overall, this book was very good and I recommend it to be picked up if you haven’t yet. It was recently listed as a 2020 Best of Goodreads nominee and that is all the more reason to get this book. If I could possibly recommend, if you’re an audiobook lover, definitely listen to it!

Head Over Heels by Hannah Orenstein

Publication Date: June 23, 2020
Publisher: Atria Books
Rating:
★★★

The past seven years have been hard on Avery Abrams: After training her entire life to make the Olympic gymnastics team, a disastrous performance ended her athletic career for good. Her best friend and teammate, Jasmine, went on to become an Olympic champion, then committed the ultimate betrayal by marrying their emotionally abusive coach, Dimitri.

Now, reeling from a breakup with her football star boyfriend, Avery returns to her Massachusetts hometown, where new coach Ryan asks her to help him train a promising young gymnast with Olympic aspirations. Despite her misgivings and worries about the memories it will evoke, Avery agrees. Back in the gym, she’s surprised to find sparks flying with Ryan. But when a shocking scandal in the gymnastics world breaks, it has shattering effects not only for the sport but also for Avery and her old friend Jasmine.

Review:

Thank you Hannah Orenstein, Atria Books & NetGalley for a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

As a former gymnast, I was very excited to read this book. When I say former gymnast, I mean when I was 5 and had all of the aspirations of being an Olympian one day. Obviously, that never happened, but I was very into the idea of this kind of book. A romance mixed with a gymnastics twist? Sign me up.

This was my first Hannah Orenstein novel and I enjoyed it. There were some things about the writing that I was a little bit unsure of, but it overall was a cute story.

The story was a overtaken with gymnastics. I love gymnastics, but that was really the main focus of this novel. I am a romance novel lover, and I was looking forward to having the romance surrounding the gymnastics since that’s what this book was classified as. There was a hard time with me trying to merge the two plots of gymnastics and romance.

I appreciated the hard sides of gymnastics and reading about how hard it is to become an Olympian. I liked reading about the different characters and how interesting their lives with gymnastics was.

I also appreciated Hannah Orenstein including harsh topics like depression from losing a dream and the issues that come from emotional abuse from a relationship. I think that this was a very important part of this novel.

Overall, this novel was pretty good. I gave it a 3 star rating because it was right in the middle for me. It wasn’t fantastic, but it wasn’t terrible. I would consider this book more of a contemporary fiction, not a contemporary romance. If you like gymnastics, I’d definitely pick this one up.