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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review When We Fell Apart by Soon Wiley

    Strange but also heartfelt, this story of how family and identity can take someone to the brink, is sad and moving. A testament to mental stability, family expectations and the importance of being who we are. Here is my book review When We Fell Apart by Soon Wiley.

    Min, a Korean American man working in Seoul for Samsung, is devastated when he learns the Korean women he has been dating has committed suicide. He begins a long and dangerous search for answers.

    Yu-jin was a beautiful, ambitious, smart and happy young women, in love with Min…or so he thought. But the real Yu-jin was someone completely different. Someone playing a dangerous game in a country that does not accept anyone who is “different’.

    But an even greater danger to Yu-jin and then to Min as he searches for answers, is Yu-jin’s parent. Her father a high ranking government official and her mother who sets appearances above all else, will go to great lengths to keep Yu-jin’s secret under wraps…lengths that threaten the lives of Min and Yu-jins closest friends.

    It’s a novel that gives close inspection to the social expectations of South Korea, while also opening a window to understanding the Korean/American status in the United States. A very poignant story.

    Thank you for reading my Book Review When We Fell Apart by Soon Wiley.

    Read last week’s book review This Time Tomorrow by Emma Staub.

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    North America Travel

    Palm Springs Weekend

    I had a wonderful time in beautiful Palm Springs California recently with a group of women I went to high school with. We try to get together every year to celebrate our long friendship and our continued comradery. This year’s reunion was a Palm Springs Weekend.

    Palm Springs

    Palm Springs Weekend

    Our annual reunions have been everywhere from Las Vegas to Nashville, Scottsdale to Seattle and once we did a cruise. We look for places with a variety of activities to fit everyone’s interest. Palm Springs fit the bill. Three days is not a lot of time but we squeezed a lot in and had a really fun time. Here are some of my recommendations for a Palm Springs Weekend with a date or with girlfriends.

    Where to Stay

    The Renaissance Marriott Palm Springs – I’m so glad we chose this hotel. It’s very close to the airport and an Uber is only $16. For our Palm Springs Weekend we did not rent a car, because the Marriott is so strategically placed. We joked that it was a half mile walk to everywhere. Very easy to get around. The Marriott rooms are spacious and comfortable and the pool side rooms have an amazing view. We also enjoyed the coffee shop and the bar. The staff was very helpful. Rooms start around $250 and up.

    Where to Eat

    We enjoyed dinner out at several great restaurants. Several of the girls also went out for breakfast or walked to coffee places nearby each morning. I recommend the following for dinner;

    Boozehounds – a fun place with indoor and outdoor seating. You can bring your dog to the outdoor seating and they even have a special menu for the pooch.


    Lulu’s Palm Springs – one of the most popular and most diverse restaurants in downtown Palm Springs. I had my favorite meal here. We all enjoyed this restaurant and our server was one of the best I’ve ever had.


    Las Casuelas Terraza – one of Palm Springs oldest restaurants, family owned and run and authentically delicious. We all enjoyed a variety of Mexican specialties from Tacos to salads and Ceviche. And of course Margaritas.

    Things To Do

    Spend time at the Pool – the pool at the Renaissance is wonderful.

    pool time

    Go to the Thursday night Village Fest – back after two years on hiatus during the pandamit, the Village Fest is all about food, music, crafts, art and people watching.

    Check out the Drag Show at the Copa Nightclub. I had never been to a drag show, but if you want to give it a try, Copa is great for Drag Show newbies. It was loud, colorful and pretty fun. C

    Copa Nightclub

    Gamble or eat or both at the Agua Caliente Casino – a couple of my friends walked away with some serious winnings…but not me. But I did enjoy the drinks and appetizers which are much less expensive here than most bars or restaurants. The casino is also smoke free. Bonus.

    Agua Caliente

    Much More To Do

    Check out my blog posts from when I spent two months in the desert. I wrote about lots of things including;

    My Favorite Dining Discoveries in Palm Springs

    Idyl Away in Idylwild

    Flora of the Desert

    There is also golf, hiking, music and so much more. I highly recommend Palm Springs Weekend or much longer. Learn more at Visit Palm Springs.

    Thanks for reading my post Palm Springs Weekend. See last week’s post Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review This Time Tomorrow by Emma Staub

    Meet Alice. Living a life not exactly that she imagined but she is happy with most things. Except for the fact her ailing father is not getting better…she loves him so much and can’t imagine life without him. But on her 40th birthday something incredible happens. Here is my Book Review This Time Tomorrow by Emma Staub.

    Fans of Oona Out of Order will love the story of Alice, as she discovers on her 40th birthday the ability to time travel. She wakes up and she is back to her 16th birthday in 1996. Her father is healthy, her friends are around her, and her choices are open to revisit.

    She learns she can go back and forth through time and revisits life-changing moments – her high school crush and their relationship, her choices in college and jobs. Can she relive these and change them for the better? Should she? And what can she do that will change the trajectory of her father’s illness.

    This Time Tomorrow is a fun book, much like Oona Out of Order, or other time traveling books like A Wrinkle in Time or The Time Traveler’s Wife. If you are a fan of this genre, you will love This Time Tomorrow.

    Thanks for reading my book review This Time Tomorrow by Emma Staub.

    ****Four stars for This Time Tomorrow by Emma Staub.

    Read last week’s book review The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

    See this week’s top performing book review pin here Horse by Geraldine Brooks

    North America Travel

    Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens

    A Must When in Northern Maine

    It’s probably time for me to rewrite my post from a couple of years ago My Favorite Gardens Around the World because I keep finding new and amazing gardens! So many gardens, so little time. On my recent visit to the State of Maine, and on the recommendation of my friends, we made a rainy visit to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens. I am so glad we did.

    Even on a rainy day its worth a visit

    The Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens are open from May through October. The summer months can be really busy so plan ahead and order your tickets online. Even in the rain in September there was a lot of beautiful blooms, greenery and water features to enjoy.

    The Trolls

    We went specifically to see the amazing Trolls by Danish artist Thomas Danbo. Danbo makes these beautiful works of art from recycled wood. Danbo’s works can be seen at other locations around the world. Learn more here.

    Artist Thomas Danbo’s creations

    Perhaps Danbo will be bringing Troll’s to a neighborhood near you.

    A joyful thing to see

    Plan Your Visit

    Depending on when you visit The Coastal Maine Botanical Garden you can check and see what’s in bloom. The gardens are designed for year around interest and also include many special events and exhibits as well as permanent sculptures.

    Color in every season

    A small cafe is available in the gardens, but be sure to bring water, a sun hat and good walking shoes. Check the calendar of events before you go.

    Very family and kid friendly

    Located in the small town of Boothbay Maine, the gardens are about a three hour drive from Boston.

    Where is it?

    I highly recommend a visit to the beautiful Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens.

    We love it when you comment, pin and share our blog posts. Thank you.

    See last week’s post about Acadia National Park in the Fall

    See where our international travels are taking us next Away We Go – The Grand Adventure Begins Again.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd

    Nell Young has spent her life loving maps. Raised by her father after the tragic death of her mother, Nell’s world revolves around cartography...until a mysterious map falls into her hands and her whole world turns upside down. Here is my Book Review The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd.

    Part mystery, part fantasy, part family saga, The Cartographers is a fun whodunit read with some unusual twists and turns.

    Nell Young’s father is a world renown legend in the field of Cartography. But when Nell finds a hidden map in a box labeled “junk”, Nell and her father have an irreconcilable falling out. What is it about this plain and simple gas station road map?

    When Nell’s father is murdered in his office in the New York Public Library, Nell will begin a mad hunt to solve the mystery of this nondescript map. Along with her former boyfriend and a cast of characters from her father’s youth, Nell will discover long held secrets, dangerous knowledge and powerful people behind this seemingly useless map.

    A mix of science and magic, The Cartographers is a perfect read for fans of The Night Circus, The Buried Giant or Anansi Boys. Thanks for reading my Book Review The Cartographers by Peng Shepherd.

    Four Stars for The Cartographers by Peng Sheperd

    Please read last week’s review of one of my favorites this year The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell

    See where our international travels are taking us next Away We Go – The Grand Adventure Begins Again

    We love it when you pin and share and comment on our book reviews. Thank you.

    North America Travel

    Acadia National Park in the Fall

    Beautiful Acadia Maine USA

    I love the state of Maine. It is one of the most beautiful of all the United States. I’ve been blessed to visit there several times, and this fall I spent four days in Acadia National Park camping with friends.

    September in Acadia is a little too early for the bright fall colors, but it has the advantage of not being too crowded either. That said, Acadia is popular year-around. We saw some rain due to Hurricane Fiona which was passing off-shore but never made landfall in Maine. Temperatures were chilly on our first day but warmed up as our time went on.

    Hiking on our first day

    Camping with a group of friends at Smuggler’s Den was a great location, close to hiking and sightseeing. If you don’t want to tent camp, we also recommend Eden Village just outside the park boundaries.

    Camping with a Group at Smugglers Den
    Eden Village

    A Brief History

    Acadia has a rich human history, dating back more than 10,000 years ago with the Wabanaki people. The 17th century brought fur traders and other European explorers, while the 19th century saw an influx of summer visitors, then wealthy families. Many conservation-minded citizens, among them George B. Dorr (the “Father of Acadia National Park”), worked to establish this first U.S. national park east of the Mississippi River and the only one in the Northeastern United States. Acadia was initially designated Sieur de Monts National Monument by proclamation of President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, then renamed and redesignated Lafayette National Park in 1919. The park was renamed Acadia National Park in 1929.

    Signs of Fall
    Some late blooming wildflowers

    From 1915 to 1940, the wealthy philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr. financed, designed, and directed the construction of a network of carriage roads throughout the park.[9] He sponsored the landscape architect Beatrix Farrand, whose family owned a summer home in Bar Harbor named Reef Point Estate, to design the planting plans for the carriage roads (c. 1930).[36] The network originally encompassed about 57 miles (92 km)[8] of crushed stone carriage roads with 17 stone-faced, steel-reinforced concrete bridges (16 financed by Rockefeller), and two gate lodges—one at Jordan Pond and the other near Northeast Harbor.[3 (Source Wikipedia)

    Comfort in the trees


    We did two days of hiking and enjoyed the beauty of Acadia. There are numerous opportunities for hikes or leisurely walks in the park, and in the surrounding area. If you aren’t one for hiking you can also drive to the top of Cadillac Mountain but you need a reservation to do so.

    Hikes for all levels
    Beautiful scenes no matter where you go

    Park Loop Road

    The park loop road is an absolute must when visiting Acadia National Park. The views in every season are wonderful and definitely part of the experience. The road can be crowded so bring your patience. Or choose to get up at sunrise and drive it early, as our friends did. They highly recommend doing that. You can also take a tour bus or park shuttle.

    Park Loop Road
    Park Loop Road

    Tiny Somesville

    We spent one hour just walking around and enjoying the tiny hamlet of Somesville. Worth a brief stop.


    And be sure to have a lobster roll while in Maine!!

    Acadia National Park in the Fall

    Fall is a great time to visit this beautiful park and the state of Maine….but it’s also wonderful any time of year. Of course it’s much more crowded in the summer months and you really need to plan ahead. I hope you enjoyed my little photo safari of beautiful Acadia National Park in the Fall.

    We love it when you pin, share and comment on our blog posts.

    Be sure to see last week’s post about where we are headed next Away We Go Again!

    See this week’s top performing pin Monet’s Giverny and a Wee Bit More.

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell

    Maggie O’Farrell is one of my favorite authors. Her books like Hamnet and The Vanishing Act of Esme Lennox always make their way to my favorite reads of the year. And this brand new, beautifully told, story will also be a favorite of my reading year. Here is my Book Review The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell.

    Book Review The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell

    Like most of O’Farrell’s novels, she weaves real life characters and factual history with fictional persons and events to create a magical story. The setting is Renaissance Italy with the ruling Medici family of Florence. The story of the young duchess Lucrezia de’ Medici will captivate you as O’Farrell shares the young girls remarkable story from conception to adulthood.

    Lucrezia is unlike her sisters, less concerned about her looks or who she might marry than she is with nature and art. She never imagines a handsome husband or time at Court. But when her older sister dies unexpectedly, Lucrezia is betrothed to marry the man meant to be her sister’s husband…the ruler of Ferrara.

    Not What It Seems

    At only 15 years old she is thrust into an unfamiliar world, with a strange and mystifying husband, and his unusual family and courtiers. The marriage is not what it seems. Lucrezia is an outsider and from the beginning fears for what the future holds. Her only friend, a maid she brought from Florence.

    Lucrezia sits for a wedding portrait commissioned by her husband, but as the months go by and she does not conceive an heir, all she has given up and indeed her future hang in the balance. How can she protect herself from this man whose personality is unstable and erratic?

    Like her other works, O’Farrell’s beautiful writing brings the reader into the Italian Renaissance and the unusual plight of this young women. The story offers the reader brilliant imagery, prose and character development. Another O’Farrell masterpiece. Thanks for reading my Book Review The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell.

    *****Five Stars for The Marriage Portrait by Maggie O’Farrell

    Read last week’s book review Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Allison Espach

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