Monday, March 20, 2023

Monday Mini-Reviews: Spring Break and Five Star Reads

 I am not sure of the last time I read two five star books back to back - and followed that up by another amazing nearly five star read.  I'll admit that I had a hard time picking out what I should read after so many great reading choices - and anything that followed those great books would have a hard time being compared to what I just got done reading.

And I managed this amazing reading in the midst of spring break travel.  Middle Sister, Little Sister and I traveled to San Diego where we met up with my good friend, Sarah, and her daughter.  Big Sister's spring break at college didn't coincide with ours, and it was hard to not take everyone on this trip (my husband opted out as well since he has a work trip coming up), but she will be spending May in Europe so she has something exciting coming up as well.

On the plane - the adventure is about to begin

Hotel Coronado (this is definitely not anything like our accommodations)

ferry ride - the three of us with our Scuba hoodies

LaJolla - looking at the seals

An ice cream treat

Breakfast - French toast with ice cream and bananas

Everyone enjoys a good breakfast

San Diego was a lot of fun.  We stayed in a VRBO that was less than ideal, but we had some good laughs about it and appreciated how quiet our own homes were at 3 AM (no garbage trucks, people screaming obscenities, or loud music pulsating while we try to sleep).  Highlights of the trip include lots of good food, visiting LaJolla and seeing the seals, walking through the Gaslamp Quarter and  Little Italy, taking a ferry to Coronado and seeing the historic hotel, visiting the San Diego Zoo and walking/running through Balboa Gardens, using the trolley, and taking two trips to the mall.

And in between all that fun, I enjoyed Beyond that, the sea by Laura Spence-Ash and Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano.  

Beyond that, the sea by Laura Spence-Ash was a delight to read.  Bea's parents send her to America for the duration of World War II, wanting to keep their daughter safe.  She is taken in by the Gregorys who have two sons roughly Bea's age.  Bea fits right in to their family, enjoying spending summers at the island the family owns.  Bea's mother especially wants her daughter home, a little bit jealous of the time she is missing out on with her daughter and the fact that her American family is able to provide more things for her.  But time passes, and Bea returns to her family and because this story takes place in the 1940s, keeping in touch is not as easy as it is today.  Bea's story isn't over, though. The American family that helped raise her remains an important part of her life.  I liked this book so much. I have read The War That Save My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley several times with groups of students and this one felt like a grown-up version of this book. It's a little bit quiet, character driven, and I've spent several days already thinking about Bea and the rest of the characters in this book.

Hello Beautiful was my first vacation read. I wasn't sure how much I would love this one. The reviews already had the bar set high and I didn't love Napolitano's first book Dear Edward, but I loved Hello Beautiful so much that I feel confident in saying this one will be on my list of best books I read in 2023. I can't imagine loving another book more.  William Waters' life is forever changed when as an infant his toddler sister dies.  His parents can't seem to bring themselves to love him or parent him, so mired in grief by the loss of their oldest child.  And somehow William grows up and becomes a basketball star.  When he starts dating Julia Padovano he is immediately a part of their family.  This book is loosely based on Louisa May Alcott's Little Women although no prior knowledge is needed to enjoy this book.  Decades pass, and we see William and the Padovano sisters through ups and downs.  This is an emotional roller coaster and also a book I can't stop thinking about.

I knew March was filled with a lot of great releases, but as I try to find something new to read, I realize how many books I've added to my TBR in just this month.  What an abundance of riches!

What five star reads have you enjoyed recently?

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