The Lily Cafe Weekly Highlights – April 28, 2023

At Home

For so many reasons, I’m glad it’s Friday. It’s been a very long week, though much of it has been for planning for stuff going on next week. I like planning, but this has felt a little like overkill with everything that’s been going on. I had meant to start responding to comments, but, considering this is, what, my fourth (?) post this week, my attention has been directed to a million other things, some of which has been rendered useless now. I’m hoping next week will be better, but I’m not holding my breath.

But I am excited for tomorrow because JPL has returned to doing the open house they used to do before the pandemic. We did get to go on a tour some months ago, but the open house is fun because the campus is opened up a little more and they have a bunch of different exhibits we can wander freely between instead of being herded around like sheep. My kids remember the last open house having a spot where kids could control little robots around a Mars-inspired landscape, so my daughter has been talking a lot about doing that this year.

Other than a million things happening in my personal life, everything else has been quiet. My cat has taken to hiding or watching for birds, my husband has been going in to work most of the week so it’s been quiet at home while the kids are in school, my son is preparing for state testing, and my daughter has been cutting up so much paper and making little drawings for one of her friends that I’m running quite low on art supplies. And I have plans of planting wildflowers, but growing anything from seeds has mostly been a miss all my life. I suppose I just really like the look of dirt.

Book Impressions

Annie’s Apple by John A. Heldt

annies apple john a heldt

First Impression: This is the second in the Second Chance historical fiction series about three elderly siblings from 2022 who jump in a fountain and travel back in time into younger bodies. This one is focused on Annie in the early 1910s. I can’t wait to see which historical events are in this one.

Middle Impression: Where the first book felt like it was always hurling towards a huge historical moment, this one started with a big one and has WWI looming over its head, but it feels a lot more domestic. It’s focused more on Bill and Cassie becoming parents, and Annie and Paul finding love. I’m enjoying the quieter, slower pace, especially since there are hints of what might come later in the book, and there is a bit of a mystery that has my interest piqued. The fun part, though, is getting a bit of a feel for NYC and high society in 1911.

Current Progress: 61%. I’m not much of a fan of historical fiction, but I have been loving this series so far. I just haven’t had much time to read. I love reading about Bill, Paul, and Annie, what with their having to seamlessly assimilate into a society well before they were born with all the knowledge they had from 2022. I’ve been having a ton of fun anticipating all the historical events while also enjoying reading about the society of the early 1900s.

Mini Book Review

In an Orchard Grown From Ash by Rory Power

in an orchard grown from ash rory power

This is the second in the Wind-Up Garden duology. I wasn’t exactly impressed with the first book, but, since it’s a duology, I felt invested enough halfway through the story to finish. Besides, it ended with a fascinating turn with Nitsos, so I was excited to see what he would do in the second book. Otherwise, I fully expected to not love this book, and I was okay with that.

It turned out to, more or less, be as I expected. It wasn’t bad, but it definitely wasn’t quite for me. There were some romantic subplots in this one, most of which just bothered me. I was glad to see a sapphic romance pop up, but I just felt disappointed with the whole way it unfolded. The one I did love was between Chrysanthi and the man sent with her to protect her. It was so sweet and so low-key. Seriously, I loved Chrysanthi. She’s delightful and fun and, if the whole duology had been based around her, I think I would have liked it a lot more. Unfortunately, I’m not sure who this series was supposed to be about.

The first book makes it seem like this duology is about twins Lexos and Rhea, one of whom is the heir and the other basically brings the spring. I enjoyed them well enough in the first book and was mildly interested enough to see what they would do in the second one after what they did in the first. But, suddenly, it wasn’t just Lexos and Rhea. All four siblings, the twins, Nitsos, and Chrysanthi, all get a good amount of page time, so I couldn’t tell who this series was supposed to revolve around. In the end, it didn’t really matter. Lexos’ story was interesting in that it revealed a lot of history, but I found him annoying and I was disappointed by him. I also greatly disliked Rhea for a lot of the same reasons. Both twins felt spoiled and entitled and they just acted childishly whenever they didn’t get what they wanted. I very much disliked Rhea’s story and the way she treated people. I wouldn’t follow her if you begged me. Nitsos was the one I was really interested in, but I was massively disappointed with the way his character and his story were treated. It’s like the author thought of something interesting for him, and then just decided against it and made his story mildly interesting but mostly boring and practically useless. Fortunately Chrysanthi saved this book for me. She’s just delightful and I absolutely loved her. She’s stuck having to deal with her entire family and everything she’s known suddenly changing, and she really handles it well. She felt like the most mature character despite being the youngest, but her heart really is lovely.

4 cups of tea

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a review copy. All opinions expressed are my own.

Featured Posts From the Cafe

With so much going on at home, I haven’t posted much. I have a review for the second in a culinary cozy mystery series, Ashes to Ashes, Crust to Crust by Mindy Quigley, up as well as a post about Nancy Drew and how reading her books to my daughter has been making me feel nostalgic. I’ve only gotten a single installment of The Queens up this week, but there should be one tonight.

That Writing Update

Again, with everything going on, my writing is kind of at a standstill. Prior to this post, I’ve only had a chance to work on The Queens once and Coming Home once. The latter one makes me happy to write, so I’m hoping to get a chance to write more of that one soon. The Queens is just driving me nuts. I have no idea what’s going on or what these ladies are doing. I feel like I’m losing the threads, but it’s also kind of fun to just let my characters go and see what chaos they make. I’m fully anticipating chaos that will probably make me cry at some point.

Featured Blog Post

Each week I aim to share my favorite post of the week. This week I adored Bad Books Are Good For You from Darkwood. First of all, I’m just thrilled to see Kaiya posting again. Second of all, she’s writing about things very dear to my heart: writing and reading, so I am fully engaged with everything she posts. This one ties reading and writing together and what a writer can get out of reading, well, just about anything. Good books, bad books, there’s always something to be learned from them.

See you next week, and thanks for reading!

2 thoughts on “The Lily Cafe Weekly Highlights – April 28, 2023

  1. Thank you for mentioning, “In an Orchard Grown From Ash,” because I forgot that that book was coming out this year. I may or may not read it, but I appreciate that someone else had similar thoughts about the first book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I kept forgetting, too, until I would check my NetGalley shelf. It’s an ok duology, but I really felt it was all downhill in the second book. It was nice, though, to read from all the siblings’ POVs.

      Liked by 1 person

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