Good Reads from March 2021

Happy spring, everyone!! This month has flown by – it feels like we were just doing a SUYB link up yesterday, haha. I read a lot of excellent books this month & I’m so excited to share them here today!! Hope you find a good one among these and I can’t wait to find new books to add to my list too!!! Hop on over to our amazing hosts’ posts Steph & Jana for all the other posts linked up today!


The Rose CodeThe Rose Code by Kate Quinn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Rose Code follows three women (Osla, Mab, & Beth) and multiple lovely secondary characters as they meet through their work at Bletchley Park. The book is set alternately during WWII with these women contributing to the war effort in a unique and secretive way playing different roles in codebreaking at BP. The three are very different, but their friendship is fierce…for a while. As all WWII-based novels typically play out, this story was not without immense sadness, heartbreak, and passion, and it was extremely well written. It is not a short book but I could not believe how drawn to the story I was – I could not WAIT to find out what happened to all of these characters, especially as the plot built towards a very intense climax in the last few chapters. It read a little bit like a mystery/thriller at times as the reader attempted to put pieces of a puzzle together without all of the details (a bit like The Huntress that way too). Kate Quinn’s writing is phenomenal and so well suited to this tiny subset of a genre in historical fiction. This book had:

-Strong, well developed female characters with feisty fortitude in their personalities
-Excellent friendships with some betrayals and forgiveness
-Great moments of love & romance
-Suspense and page-turning plot points
-Fictional events and characters based on real people (and several actual real people known as Queen Elizabeth and Prince Philip gasp!)

I loved this book so much, particularly on audio – I think it’s my new favourite by this author.

Thank you to Harper Audio & Netgalley for the ALC in exchange for an honest review.

The Ex TalkThe Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this book!! This book sees two people who don’t know/understand each other very well joining forces reluctantly to host their first public radio show pretending to be exes. It blends hate to love with a bit of a fake relationship/fake “second chance” type of romance and it is SO FUN. I previously enjoyed a YA novel by this author (Today, Tonight, Tomorrow, also set in the Seattle area) but I loved this delightful first adult rom-com of hers so much and would highly recommend it. This gave me some major The Hating Game vibes with a bit less hate ;). 

This book broke me out of a bit of a slump and I found it very hard to put down. There were themes of loss, growing up, moving on from a long-term relationship, career changes, and growth, and there may have even been mention of a beanie baby or two 😉 I learned a lot about the public radio industry & I enjoyed the diversity of characters in this novel as well. I laughed out loud more than once and teared up a bit too. It was wonderful. 

Basically, if you like romcoms, this one should be on your immediate TBR – trust me.

With the Fire on HighWith the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

WITH THE FIRE ON HIGH by Elizabeth Acevedo was my second book by this author, and I loved it on audio. I also really enjoyed Clap When You Land, but the characters in this book will stay with me for a long time and I couldn’t help but root for Emoni as each chapter progressed. Emoni lives with her abuela and her toddler daughter while she is attending her senior year of high school. She has been passionately supported by her family and is an extremely hard worker but sometimes this just doesn’t feel like enough to obtain what she really wants out of her life: to become a chef. She is able to register in a chef course during her senior year and though it takes her a while to connect with the teacher, she does so eventually and excels at adding a bit of her own magic to delicious-sounding recipes. The only problem for Emoni is that the class is set to take a trip to Spain, and this costs a bit more than she can afford while she supports her grandmother and pays for her daughter’s expenses via her part-time job.

Emoni’s fortitude in chasing after what she wants is admirable and I can think of many high school students who would not demonstrate this tenacity when faced with this lot in life. I couldn’t help but hope for the best for her as I listened to this delightful book and she is a character that will stay with me for years to come. Excellently crafted and so heartwarming. This is the kind of YA we need in the world.

The Good SisterThe Good Sister by Sally Hepworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Excuse me while I go devour everything else Sally Hepworth has written – both this one and The Mother in Law were so hard to put down! This is excellent my kind of thriller – heavier on the domestic than the crime.

On top of the quickly moving, intense, need-to-know plotline of this book, I also absolutely adored a few specific aspects of this book:

-The vivid and precarious sister relationship depicted
-One of the main “settings” being a library workplace and all of the profound library love expressed
-A sweet little love story
-Themes of growth, nostalgia, and standing up for who you are

These aspects might seem weird in this type of thriller novel, but ahhh it all just fit together perfectly and this story was so good. 4.5 stars from me!

Thank you to St Martin’s Press, Netgalley, and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Twice ShyTwice Shy by Sarah Hogle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars Oh my goodness, this sweet little book wormed its way right into my heart and I devoured it happily in less than 24 hours including sleeping and working 😉 Maybell and Wesley were such fun characters and the whole whimsical-stuck-in-one-place-getting-to-know-each-other concept worked so well. This book made me swoon, smile, tear up, and feel ultimately so lovey dovey. Sarah Hogle is turning into an author I can’t wait to read forever. I am sure many readers will feel “seen” in these pages as these two characters find themselves in each other and in an unlikely place.

Highly recommend!! When can I go stay at Falling Stars Hotel?!

Other Great books:

Gutter ChildGutter Child by Jael Richardson
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gutter Child was unlike anything I’ve ever read – like others have said, the closest that comes to mind is likely The Handmaid’s Tale, which I haven’t read in almost 20 years. This was not an easy book to read, but it was compelling and hard to turn away from. It took me a little while to get the hang of the Gutter system described in this book – a Mainland where individuals are “free” and a gutter where the people attempt to get to the mainland and work off their debt, which sometimes takes years. I will admit that some of the overall allegory in this story maybe went a bit over my head but there were many elements that did not feel dystopian and a little bit too reflective of our current society, unfortunately. Elmina is just the kind of character I love to read about, and her tenacity in this book is breathtaking to read about. She learns some hard lessons about the reality of her life after she is shipped out of the gutter into an academy on the Mainland. She isn’t like the other gutter children in the academy because she was a part of a government social project and is one of the only remaining survivors of that unique group. Her life at the academy evolves into something she wasn’t expecting and where she ends up changes the course of her life and those around her immensely. I did find I wanted just a LITTLE bit more information at the end of this book so I am hopeful for a sequel…please!!! I’ll also note that I listened to the audiobook of this one and it was very well narrated.

I cannot wait to chat with my fellow Canadian Book Enablers & the author in a couple of weeks and hear more about the inspiration for this gripping novel.

LuckyLucky by Marissa Stapley
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really, REALLY enjoyed this book and read it in just a few sittings which HAS NOT been the case in my reading life lately. 
Things I loved about Lucky:

1) A strong, resilient character who you just absolutely have to root for even if she’s made some mistakes along the way 2) A quick-moving plot with a major plot element about a third of the way in that you just have to see resolved 3) Some very interesting characters and moments along the way 4) A satisfying ending.

Lucky is a grifter – she was raised by a con artist father and has always wondered about her mother, whom she never met. THis book drifts back to Lucky’s mid childhood while simultaneously following Lucky being on the run from the law due to a swindling long time boyfriend she planned to escape the country with after pulling off a huge heist. We learn a lot about how Lucky came to be who she is and how she wants her life to look in the future. This fast-paced, character AND plot driven novel is going to be everywhere this summer. Finally…can we all just take 2 seconds to gush about this gorgeous book cover??? 

Act Your Age, Eve Brown (The Brown Sisters, #3)Act Your Age, Eve Brown by Talia Hibbert
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was absolutely delightful from start to finish. Eve might be my favourite of the Brown sisters and I loved the setting and plotline of her book. This series is pure contemporary romance but I enjoy the neurodiverse characters that Talia Hibbert writes and her writing really makes you feel for the characters’ past experiences as they find themselves. Highly recommend this whole series. A bonus to this book was the fun playlist at the beginning of it!! 🙂

Heart on a Leash (Hearts of Alaska #1)Heart on a Leash by Alanna Martin
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Porters and the Lipins are meant to resemble a bit of that Montague and Capulet rivalry beloved by fans of Romeo and Juliet for years, but that is about where the similarities end here – sorry Shakespeare.

This first-book-in-a-new-romance-series was too cute! The cover first caught my attention for obvious (adorable) reasons, but I also liked the characters a lot. I always find it fun when a character meets another and we, the reader, know who that person is but the character doesn’t know. That journey towards the oooh guess what’s going to happen is super fun 😉 The small-town Alaskan setting was fun to read about, and Josh and Taylor had great chemistry on the pages. This was a quick and enjoyable read and I can’t wait to continue the series.

Thank you so much to Berkley Publishers, Netgalley, and Edelweiss for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Final Revival of Opal & NevThe Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Wow! It is hard to believe that this is Dawnie Walton’s debut novel. This well written and compelling novel is told through interviews and it depicts a rich oral history of Opal Jewel and Nev Charles’ rise to fame through the very personal lens of their deceased drummer’s daughter, Sunny. This book was hard to put down! I received an e-ARC of the book from Simon & Schuster and Netgalley but didn’t finish it before it was released so I also listened to the latter half of it on full-cast audio which was excellent. I was so intrigued to find out exactly how one the events of one single night unfolded in the 1970s in which Sunny’s father, Jimmy, fell victim to racial violence and died at a Showcase in which Opal & Nev performed. When Sunny finds out a bit more about this, she is discouraged from sharing her allegations and the story continues to be very intriguing as a reunion tour kicks off. This book includes quite a bit of history of race in the 1970s (which unfortunately does not seem to have improved dramatically in the past 40 years). 

I highly recommend reading this one – Opal Jewel is a character who will stay with readers for years to come, I’m sure. I enjoyed all of the side characters too & couldn’t help but root for Sunny in her ability to tell this story for the father she never knew. 

(I realize I’m talking about these characters as if they are real people – that’s how this book felt to me!!) 

ShippedShipped by Angie Hockman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book was utterly delightful and super cute. It was so fun to “escape” my current location and travel along on this cruise with Henley and Graeme & all the interesting guests. This book reminded me a lot of The Hating Game (but way less steamy) and I enjoyed the aspect of standing up for yourself and equal rights to women in the workplace, etc. etc. Definitely a cute and enjoyable contemporary romance 🙂

Passable but not overly Memorable

Faking ItFaking It by Portia MacIntosh
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I flew through this book and laughed at it a lot. If you can suspend your belief that this situation would never actually work in real life, this might be a funny one to read if you need something light and fun 🙂

The basic premise of one twin sister “becoming” the other while she is away at jail has been done before in various ways, and parts of it felt a bit…ahhh what is going to happen here – but Ella was a great character and it was fun to see her shine a bit and change things up in her sister’s family.

Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

I also finished The Exiles, which was good, but I haven’t quite finished my review yet, and finished more Tilly & The Bookwanderers books with the kiddos. It’s been a busy but excellent reading month. What should I read next? Currently working on Genevieve Graham’s new release, Letters Across the Sea, which comes out in 2 weeks, and Six of Crows and the Firekeeper’s Daughter on audio. I also started Glendy Vanderah’s new book earlier this month but had to put it down for just a little bit (I know it will be great but needed a minute).

TL;DR: I highly recommend The Rose Code, The Good Sister, Opal & Nev, and The Ex-Talk as well as With the Fire on High 🙂 However, most of these were really good depending on your preferences!!

What have you been reading??

24 responses to “Good Reads from March 2021”

  1. shootingstarsmag Avatar

    What an awesome reading month. I have Opal and Nev and hope to read soon. I am curious about Ex-Talk, Rose Code, and Good Sister so thanks for your reviews. I loved With the Fire on High. I have Clap When You Land need to read soon.



    1. Hope you enjoy Opal & Nev, Lauren!! I really liked Clap When You Land too and I have The Poet X to get to soon!


  2. The Rose Code sounds so good – I love the premise! And I love anything by Hepworth, can’t wait to get my hands on Good Sister!


    1. Sally Hepworth’s books are so good!!


  3. I have seen Opal and Nev all over Show Us Your Books today. I’m taking it as a sign to read it soon. I’m in the middle of The Good Sister right now and loving it. I need to add Shipped, Twice Shy, and The Ex-Talk to my list. You had a great reading month!


    1. Yay I love it when that happens and a book keeps gaining popularity 😉 It was a great month for reading – thank you! Hope you love the end of The Good Sister!


  4. I adored With the Fire on High. It was so well done and I loved how it was YA without a “chosen” one or some love triangle. And it made really, really hungry. 🙂 Been seeing a lot of love for The Good Sister and I haven’t read anything by Hepworth yet, so it seems like a good place to start.


    1. I agree – I got so hungry reading that book too LOL


  5. I enjoyed The Good Sister too! I just got Shipped from the library so will be reading that soon. I just added The Ex Talk and The Rose Code to my to read list!


    1. Shipped was such a cute one! Felt perfect for these non-travel times haha


  6. Definitely want to read The Rose Code from your review.


    1. Hope you love it!! It will be one of my top HF of the year I think


  7. I love Kate Quinn’s other novel but hadn’t yet heard of this one. It sounds great!


    1. I liked this one the best of all three! The characters just stuck with me a little bit more.


  8. Ohh Gutter Child sounds like a book I would love. I hadn’t heard of it before – adding to the list! Everyone is talking about The Final Revival of Opal and Nev. I got it from BOTM last month but haven’t gotten to it yet. I think I will read it next!


    1. I hope you like Opal & Nev!! Gutter Child is all over the place with my Canadian friends because the author is Canadian. It is a unique one!!!


  9. As always with your book reviews, my TBR list just grew like crazy! I’m so excited for some of these – the Ex Talk sounds exactly like what I need in my life right now, and I can’t wait to pick up The Rose Code.



    1. I really think you will love The Ex Talk! It was just what I needed at that time too!


  10. I’m really excited for The Rose Code


  11. I like Kate Quinn’s writing so much but the books are sooo long LOL. I’ll still read that.

    Love Sally Hepworth, she always delivers!


    1. This was by far the Kate Quinn that flew by fastest for me. Lots of interesting stuff happens!!!


  12. I loved With the Fire on High.

    I have so many Sally Hepworth books on my tbr but I’ve yet to actually read one.


  13. I love your reviews and the variety in your books this month! I haven’t read anything by Kate Quinn, but your review makes me want to check The Rose Code out.


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