Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins

Love at First Spite by Anna E. Collins

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 52. Published in 2022

Other Possible Prompts: 45. A book with illustrated people on the cover

I think I liked this one while reading, but when I look back I’m far less impressed. Not to mention, the second half just grated on my nerves. Let’s jump into it!

After her fiance of three years cheats on her with their realtor, Dani finally snaps. She calls off the wedding and swears off guys altogether – but it really feels like her ex, Sam, got off scott-free. So, together with her cousin and her new landlady, she conspires to buy the lot next door to his house and build a girls retreat – a “spite house”.

As an interior designer, Dani takes the lead on the project, but she needs an architect. The grumpy and off-putting Wyatt volunteers himself, much to Dani’s chagrin – as the time they’ve worked together at their company has not left warm and fuzzy feelings – but once they start working together, sparks seem to be flying in spite of Dani’s no-man rule. If only her revenge wasn’t getting in the way…

I was really digging this romance through the first half, with lots of tension and quips with the “hate” start to their romance, but then they totally lost me through the second half. It started strong, but then I really saw Dani get needy, and Wyatt get truly horrible at communicating. Neither are terribly attractive features, and as a functioning adult, I couldn’t fall into a romance where these two clearly had some growing up still to do. It (spoiler alert) destroyed their good chemistry, and made me disinterested in their success as a couple. As a whole, I quite enjoyed the novel, but the romance does not carry it start to finish.

In fact, the drama of the house build carries the second half. I rooted for Dani in all aspects except her needy romantic self. Mia and Iris were my favorites, because their sass and wisdom make them great supporting characters, but Dani is pretty solid, too. Wyatt, however, was a no from me. I always want the grumpy ones to be Mr. Darcy types, but he falls flat. I just don’t want the chiseled asshole archetype anymore. No soft and squishy insides here.

The “spite house” itself is an interesting concept…but the antics became a little much for me. It overtakes so much of the novel, but I can’t tell if it’s *supposed* to make me uncomfortable or not. It did. It was too much. Too try-hard. Just a build a gorgeous house, block his view, and be done with it all – why do we have to make your ex so mad?? I’m the queen of boundaries, the queen of let it go – this was very much the opposite of establishing a boundary and letting it go.

I can’t decide if I want to recommend this or not. I think I do. I would read Anna Collins again, but this definitely doesn’t top my favorites. I’m curious to see how a second novel pans out.

A copy of Love at First Spite was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

That’ll about do it. Big “meh” vibes from me as of late. Enjoy the weekend!

Adventures in Book Hunting, Volume 3

Adventures in Book Hunting, Volume 3

In which we gather interior design books from my library

Omg, I am so behind…I had it on my schedule to get all of these monthly posts done today but IT DIDN’T OCCUR TO ME THAT IT’S ALREADY THE FIRST OF THE MONTH??? Oh goodness. So this is not only a rushed experience but it’s going to be one part book hunting, one part life happenings, one part library advocacy…so buckle up.

Of course, I used to work at Oscar Foss Memorial Library in Barnstead, so it is my library of choice. I’m not biased at all, but…staff if the best, variety is the best, ~atmosphere~ is the best.

Support your local library, my dudes.

But this week I’ve really been thinking about some interior design stuff: I currently live in an apartment, so unfortunately, I can’t paint the walls or hang things, really. Instead I’m repainting or refinishing furniture, adding signs where there’s already screws and nails, or just rearranging things and adding throw pillows to my heart’s content.

I started a little Etsy shop recently so my mind has been all over the farmhouse style and crafting some unique home decor. I’ve been picking up some interior design books that have smaller project ideas, things that I can implement while still living in a rental.

One of my most recent and successful personal projects of late was my great grandmother’s dresser. It had been painted black years ago but I just had a gut feeling that what was underneath it was this gorgeous, mid-century wood. I watched a couple videos and bought paint stripper, then went to work. Here’s the progress photos and result!

I don’t love refinishing furniture, but there is something super satisfying about that transformation…and having a more attractive piece of furniture.

So with all this in mind I set out to find some interior design books. I was going to start at Gibson’s, but I know the library is a plethora of knowledge for crafty books like these, and thought it better to start there instead. I’m glad I did! You never know how much they’ll have, and how much will tick your boxes, until you try!

I began my search online, and reserved about five titles I recalled by name and/or found whilst perusing keywords like “interior design”, “farmhouse”, and “organization”.

When I came in to pick them up, I was able to take a look yet again and see if there was any that I missed. I grabbed How to Make A House a Home in addition, but decided to pass on Wild Blooms because it seemed a little too niche and not quite the style I’m going for.

So I grab my stack of reserves, and this is what I ended up taking home!

I’m most excited for The Home Edit and A Touch of Farmhouse Charm, which has projects inside that I could potentially take on for our home or for my business! Once I saw it in person, I was less confident about It’s the Little Things…I liked to concept of adding small touches to your home that spark joy, but I don’t think it’s the style inspo I’m looking for on these projects.

While I can totally believe how much my library has, if you haven’t been in a while, you might be surprised how much your library has! Consider this the universe’s sign for you to go visit your local library. Pick up a new hobby or just a new book. Libraries are your resource for information for everything from the frivolous to the very important.

Now that I’ve gathered up some initial texts and information, I think my next step will be a Gibson’s order for another Domino book, as well as the companion texts for The Home Edit. I also want more books specifically geared toward farmhouse style.

I think all of this is just coming out of an extreme desire to own my own home. We tried to purchase a home last year, but it fell through, and I’ve just been bummed ever since. Now that we’ve made the decision to rent until we move states, I think I’m feeling the loss even more acutely knowing it’s not soon within my grasp. I want *nice* things in my home that spark joy and warmth, and I’m in the midst of finding what that means to me.

My next project to take on is going to be staining all of my bookshelves and crates! As I’m sure you’ve learned, I am obsessed with my crate system. Instead of owning large, hulking bookshelves, I buy unstained crates you can find at the craft store for about ten dollars, and I just pick up another one every time I need a little more space! These crates have become my coffee table, bedside tables, coffee bars, entertainment centers…literally so many things in my home are made up of these crates. It’s my best interior design trick, but it’s also going to be a huge project…since there’s a ton of them.

Wish me luck! Happy Friday!

She Sheds Style by Erika Kotite

She Sheds Style by Erika Kotite

Rating: 4 out of 5.

The 52 Book Club 2022 Challenge Prompt: 9. A book that sparks joy

Other Possible Prompts: 5. Chapters have titles, 6. Household object on the cover, 8. Involving the art world, 11. A book with less than 2022 Goodreads ratings, 24. Addresses a specific topic, 40. A book with photographs inside

I LOVE a she shed. I have wanted one since I was sixteen. In my wildest dreams, it has its own sitting area, built in bookshelves that harbor my entire collection, and a desk by a window overlooking gorgeous gardens from which I work. When I saw She Sheds Style at Gibson’s a few months back, I instantly added it to my list!

She Sheds Style focuses more on the nitty gritty than the whimsical idea of a she shed. It’s more of a how-to manual for the trend than a lookbook, though it is filled with others’ gorgeous ideas and projects. It blends a combination of practical building considerations, color theory, and design concepts with a smattering of do it yourself projects to make the she shed your own. I quite enjoyed its organization and its thoughts.

This book did exactly what it was supposed to: inspired me to design my own shed, and give me the tools to get started. I’m in no position to have a she shed at the moment, being a renter who will likely move in the next few years, but a girl can dream! Considering its purpose, what finer details I’ll need, even down to the colors…that can bring you a lot of joy, too. It filled my Sunday.

My reasoning for not giving this five stars is that I do think some of this is a bit, hmmm…flowery, I guess? It’s language designed to fill out the page rather than provide practical advice. Kotite seems completely taken with the she shed idea and it spills onto her pages, but she needn’t sell me on the idea – like I said, I’ve wanted one for five years now!

What I was really here for were the design ideas, and unexpectedly, the solid building advice. Kotite brings up awesome considerations I hadn’t even thought of, like where in your yard you place the shed mattering. Not only is it affected by drainage, levelness, etc…but you want it to blend into your yard, become one with the landscape, and look like it belongs there. I loved her practical tips on this and many other things I never would have come up with on my own.

In addition, that design advice was really great. There are several projects in here that I plan to give a try, even before I get a she shed. They were original and sweet, and helped highlight some of the more important features of the shed. Really, this was a well organized and thoughtful manual on a topic I love.

However, another thing I didn’t like: throughout the book, Kotite touches on five distinct styles that the shed can fall into, and she runs with them for everything from paint colors to type of door. And I didn’t dislike any of them, but I do feel like my own personal style, and what I’ve always envisioned for a shed of my own, falls somewhere between many of them and maybe even a bit outside of them. The five themes were eclectic, modern, rustic, green, and romantic. I feel my own style felt like a blend of green and romantic, with a touch of rustic. It’s all going to depend on my home, and my surroundings, but they’re all styles I identify with.

If you’ve ever considered a she shed, or if you’re crafty and you’d like to know more about the idea, check this one out! I loved the advice and the projects, and I’ll definitely return to this book in the future. I can’t wait for spring to be here so I can get out in the sunshine and flowers that this book really highlights!

Have a great week!