Recent Books I’d Like to Rave About

Happy April, friends!! It is occasionally feeling like spring here, but not every day, so hopefully soon. I can’t believe it’s already Easter this weekend – I feel like I blinked and a couple of months disappeared on me, but that’s how life is sometimes. I’ve been reading up a STORM lately – lots of audiobooks walking the energetic doggy but also just lazy nights reading – zero complaints about that!! Happy to link up with Steph & Jana today to share some quick (ish) reviews of what I’ve been reading for their Show Us Your Books link up!


Looking For JaneLooking For Jane by Heather Marshall
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This debut historical fiction novel was extremely well written and the weaving of the characters over three generations was impeccable and captivating. I had no difficulty following along with the various timelines on audio and I really enjoyed all of the female characters and their storylines.
This book describes an aspect of Canadian history that I’ll admit I maybe knew about in passing but not in nearly the detail as this book goes into. It is always fascinating to learn more about something that is just legal and (for many) more normalized now. The sacrifices that the characters in this book made to provide safe choices for women are mind-boggling and the characters are so brave and tenacious and skilled. I really enjoyed the author’s note in which she mentions that the book is about motherhood and how it looks from all sides of the coin – so true and I hadn’t considered it that way.
Overall, I really appreciated this story and I definitely look forward to anything this author writes in the future. I think it will make a great book club chat book later this month.

Thank you to Simon & Schuster Canada for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I mostly listened to this audiobook and really enjoyed the narration.

The Honeybee EmeraldsThe Honeybee Emeralds by Amy Tector
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had not heard of this book or author at all, and was quite interested in the synopsis of the book when the publisher reached out to ask if I wanted to read and review it. Fortunately, I was also able to acquire the audio copy via Netgalley so I alternated between formats while reading this book. I loved this!! I would classify this as dual-timeline historical fiction, though it is primarily based in the present day with some flashbacks and stories from the past when describing the history of the honeybee emeralds necklace. It feels like a bit of a historical treasure hunt to find out the mystery of a necklace found in a green jacket in the basement of a expat magazine office in Paris.

There is a large and vast cast of characters in this novel but I didn’t find it too difficult to keep track of who everyone was once I got into the story. A few of them are friends, but a few others aren’t known to each other and yet they all come together to find out more about the necklace and write a dazzling magazine article about its history. It was fun hearing the different accents on the audiobook (well performed, in my opinion!) and learning more about each member’s background and past relationships and how that related to their approach to the mystery unfolding.

By the end of this novel, I couldn’t quite turn the pages fast enough as past secrets were revealed and there were a few bonus star-inducing tender moments near the end that I absolutely loved.

I don’t know if this book will be for absolutely everyone, but if you enjoy that whole treasure-hunt-for-an-item-from-the-past idea of comaraderie, honestly, I can’t recommend this story enough. So fascinating and enjoyable to read.

Thank you so much to Turner Publishing and Netgalley for the ARC and ALC in exchange for an honest review.

Better Luck Next TimeBetter Luck Next Time by Kate Hilton
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A good book friend that I trust (hi Kaley) posted about this book when it came out and I filed it away as one I would probably enjoy – then I promptly kept putting it off and while I regret that a little bit, when I finally picked up this book and absolutely loved it, it was probably the exact right time.

Better Luck Next Time made me laugh harder than another book I can remember in recent years. Something about this writing was just totally hilarious and I love a good family drama book but this one was next-level in terms of the hilarity and shenanigans. It took me a few minutes to keep everyone straight since this book is about two different nuclear families/one big extended family (a brother and sister and their children – so a lot about the first cousins in the second generation). There were some absolutely heartwarming moments, a few OMG I can’t believe that actually happened moments, and overall this book was one that I found impossible to put down and delighted the entire time I read it.

The book tackles feminism, divorce, new relationships and dating, LGBTQIA relationships, rehab, friendship among cousins, and a a teen finding his father. If that all sounds like a lot, it really wasn’t during the pages of this well-written and sharply comedic book. Fans of family drama like Parenthood or This is Us or Brothers and Sisters on TV will enjoy this book! I’m off to check out her backlist now!

The Spanish Love DeceptionThe Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved so much about this book – and I waited way too long to read it. It is maybe one of the closest books I’ve found to The Hating Game vibes and I don’t say that lightly. Catalina and Aaron were so fun to read about, the slow burn romance was definitely unreal, and the trip to Spain (though a bit short for me), was fun to read about. I really admired Catalina’s tenacity and devotion to her job and I also really appreciated the ending of this that established her as a respected woman in her field.
I will say that this book is a bit longer than its counterparts in the contemporary romance genre but I didn’t mind – it didn’t feel too slow or boring though I’m sure it could have been shortened a bit at times. I’ll be sure to check out future books by this author, absolutely.
A favourite quote:

“My eyelids eventually fluttered shut, but right before darkness engulfed me, I thought I heard Aaron whisper, “You feel complete in my arms. You feel like my home.”

If you’ve read this too, I’d love to hear your thoughts!!!

The Diamond EyeThe Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I think I’m going to go ahead and label this one as my second-favourite book by Kate Quinn following the absolutely breathtaking The Rose Code last year. This book was exceptionally narrated by Saskia Maarleveld and I will forevermore be listening to Kate Quinn’s books while reading along here and there – it’s the perfect way to experience her unique form of historical fiction, in my experience.

This story (based on a true story of a real person!) is told in a unique way – through Mila sharing her “official” and “unofficial” memoir detailing her time in the war and afterwards. Mila is not hard to instantly root for – she’s a bookworm, just like us, but that’s about where the similarities end. She cares fervently for her only son and her parents. She is loyal, brave, and a leader. She is also a Russian sniper with over 300 recorded official kills to her name. She is patient and determined. I was instantly fascinated with her and fell for all the other characters too.

The ending of this one didn’t hit me with quite the same intense punch as her other books but I was still completely impressed with the remarkable writing and unparalleled storytelling present in this book.


Falling for You (Sapphire Springs #3)Falling for You by Barb Curtis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have really enjoyed reading this series in Sapphire Springs! I’m sad to say goodbye to the characters (I think!) but excited to read whatever Barb Curtis writes next.

In this third book in the trilogy, it was extremely easy to sink into a story of a not-yet-ready-to-settle woman who inherits a desireable historic mansion in Sapphire Springs and begins to discover a decades-old mystery about her ancestors. She runs into Rob, a newly single dad and brother to a character from the first book in this series. Rob wants the house Faith has inherited, but he decides to settle for working on its renovation.

There was a lot to enjoy in this story – friendships, business connections, adorable children, yoga, a fun doggy, good food, and the aforementioned brief historical/family mystery. There are some heightened emotions around Rob’s custody battle/divorce as well as Faith’s family history and connection to Sapphire Springs. I had no problem sitting with this and spending time with these characters – it was time well spent.

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

The Bright Side Running ClubThe Bright Side Running Club by Josie Lloyd
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book hooked me instantly – especially the audiobook with exceptional narration and though there were a few mildly frustrating moments (come on, character! this is how it is!), I ultimately really, really enjoyed this story about a mother of 3 diagnosed with breast cancer and how she journeyed through her treatment while balancing all of the other aspects of life. It is SO very British, which, as I’ve mentioned a time or ten, I absolutely love. I find when I’m in a phase of listening to British audiobooks I tend to adopt some of their colloquialisms and my husband looks at me like I’m crazy and isn’t that a fun thing to do in 2022??

Long story short, this was worth a listen – some definite heart to the storyline and not as desperately sad as some cancer stories (not to spoil anything, but personally, I prefer to know the sadness level before starting a cancer book).

Thank you to the publisher & Netgalley for the advanced listening copy in exchange for an honest review.

What Strange ParadiseWhat Strange Paradise by Omar El Akkad
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has been shared widely lately because it won the Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2021 and then was one of the finalists for Canada Reads in March. I was drawn to the synopsis and the cover. I alternated between the audiobook and hardcover while reading this, which I think was helpful because the pacing threw me off a little bit at times.

This fictional story about the migrant/refugee crisis in the world certainly tugs at the heartstrings and I found it easy to connect with Amir and Vanna. The alternating timelines (before and after) simply made me feel a little bit like I wanted more of the before. The timelines were in such stark contrast to each other in the way the story was told, but my interest was certainly piqued as well too.

One of my friends who read this also pointed out a YouTube video of the author speaking about this book at the Ottawa Writers Festival and that was also well worth the time if you have a chance to read it.

Trigger warnings: child death, xenophobia, racism, violence

Long story short – I do recommend this, but I can see how it might not be everyone’s cup of tea in their reading life as well. This topic and writing is important and eye-opening to consider though.

Everything for You (Bergman Brothers, #5)Everything for You by Chloe Liese
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh, I just love Chloe Liese’s Bergman family. This book was no exception – it included one of my favourite tropes: a sunshiney main character and a grumpy main character who is a softie deep inside. GAH. So fun. Oliver and Gavin’s story held my attention from the first second and I just loved the way they came to relate to one another after some earlier misunderstandings. I loved all the soccer in the book and the way the sport was described – which is saying a lot since I am not a DIEHARD sports fan (though I do love a good sports book when done well, like this one was).

There were a few absolutely hilarious moments in this book as well as a lot of heartwarming/awww I really feel for them/wow I believe this is all going to work out but I’m not 100% sure how moments. Chloe’s writing is impeccable and she has a wonderful talent for making her characters just so real.

I can’t wait for the two remaining books in this series though I know I will be crushed when we make our way through all the Bergmans.

Thank you so much to the author and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Kamila Knows BestKamila Knows Best by Farah Heron
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really loved this audiobook narrated by Soneela Nankani. It’s not a secret that I am a huge Austen fan and I also love retellings but I haven’t read many Emma retellings. This one was very well executed in a modern Toronto setting and I really, really fell in love with the characters including all the dogs (Potato! Darcy! love love love)!!! The end really tugged at my heartstrings much like Emma always does ❤ Farah Heron writes fabulous characters and I love her Toronto/Ontario settings – it just feels so refreshing to read a Canadian romance set in Canada.

There were a few appropriately cringey moments (a la Emma as well, so I could totally appreciate that), but there were also some absolutely lovely heartwarming moments including Kamila’s relationship with her father, Rohan cooking, Bollywood nights with friends, and so many delicious food descriptions of dishes I’ll have to get my hands on sometime.

It was helpful for me to switch between the audiobook and the ebook while reading this to familiarize myself with the spelling of names and dishes and Indian words and the pronunciation of those same words and names. 🙂

Thank you so much to Hachette Audio and Forever for the ALC and ARC in exchange for an honest review.

In a New York MinuteIn a New York Minute by Kate Spencer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book made me laugh so much. I loved the characters’ hilarious meet cute 🤣🤣 #SubwayQTs, funny self-talk, awesome friends and supporting characters, and, of course, one of my favourite book settings. I am dying to go back to New York and visit all the bookish places I didn’t get to the last time and walk across the Brooklyn Bridge and be with my husband there. Hopefully someday!

These characters were a delight from page one – I got some major Mr. Darcy vibes from Hayes (shy! Unsure how to easily socialize! Means well but doesn’t always say the exact right thing!). It’s not a retelling by any means, but I do so love a male lead in that vein. Franny and her group of friends were lovely and I’d love to read a book about the others – fingers crossed!!

I definitely recommend this one and I really enjoyed the dual audiobook narration from @amandandolan and @neilhellegers. The narration was very well done and it is fun to have a voice for Franny and Hayes as their POV shifts through the book.

Thank you to Forever and Hachette Audio for the ARC and ALC of this one.

MigrationsMigrations by Charlotte McConaghy
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve heard amazing things about this book for years and it mostly lived up to that hype for me. I’ve never really read anything like this – set in the not-so-far-away future when almost all animals in the world are extinct. It took me a little while to grasp the switching timelines and perspective and I will admit at times I had to pause and think about what was going on, etc. but it was so well done in terms of the writing and the very compelling story. Furthermore, the audiobook was extremely well performed and I was utterly entranced while listening. I’ll definitely be seeking out other books by this narrator.

The characters in this book were complicated, many of them had dark pasts that weren’t shared immediately, and above all I really enjoyed Franny and the band of fishermen she meets as the story progresses. There is a particular scene in Newfoundland that hit home for me (even though it’s not home at ALL ha).

This is literary fiction and some might find it slow but it also isn’t exceptionally long and it has definitely stayed with me since I finished it. Highly recommend if it sounds like something you’d like – I think fans of Where the Forest Meets the Stars and Emily St. John Mandel would enjoy this one (or even non-fans of ESJM) lol.

Ten Trends to Seduce Your BestfriendTen Trends to Seduce Your Bestfriend by Penny Reid
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

EEEEK I was so delighted to receive an ARC of this book from the author and publicity team. I positively devoured 2 Penny Reid series (KITC and The Winston Brothers) a few years ago and was itching to read a standalone adult romance by her again. This one didn’t disappoint!! Winnie and Byron are some of my favourites I’ve read this year and I always, always connect with a romance in which there are marvellous friend groups and Penny does this so well.

The basic premise of this book is an enemy-to-lovers, and finding out more about the two main characters, as always, made the book for me. Sensory processing disorder is handled in what felt like an authentic way, and the two main characters also had traumatic young adulthoods that really influenced the way they view and expect a romantic relationship to be like. I really, really liked reading about these two main characters working on a fun 2022-relatable TikTok challenge to get more followers because it was delightfully fun to picture all of their romance challenge posts.

I highly recommend checking out this book if you enjoy a slow burn with wonderful characters. It was a bit long, which I knew to expect, but I do think it’s good to go into it with that realization!

One Italian SummerOne Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I listened to this book in less than a day (it’s 6 ish hours on audio and narrated by the amazing Lauren Graham aka Lorelai Gilmore). I’ll admit it wasn’t my all-time favourite story ever but I definitely needed to keep listening to the end to figure out just what exactly was going on and it was a fun one if you’re experiencing wanderlust or coming of age or what does life mean anyway etc. The only thing I found a bit hard to reconcile, and ironically this was a bit strange for me on Gilmore Girls too (even though this book is nothing like the show at all), is the nature of the mother-daughter relationship in this book. I did enjoy watching it shift throughout the story, and I loved the ending, but it was strange at times.

Overall I’d say this one is worth taking on summer vacation or to the beach!

(Trigger warning: death of a parent)

The Younger WifeThe Younger Wife by Sally Hepworth
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’ve read and enjoyed a few books by Sally Hepworth – this genre of domestic suspense with a twist or two is just too much fun to read. The Younger Wife was no exception and I found a lot to love about this novel. It was easy to get to know the characters and root for the two sisters in this novel as well as their mother and entire situation. It was well written, and there was a sense of foreboding throughout. I found it hard to put down and devoured the whole thing in a matter of otherwise busy days.

There are a few trigger warnings to be aware of: domestic abuse, rape, miscarriage, alcoholism, murder, child abuse — some of these to greater extents than others and not really a spoiler when considered generally.

I did feel that the ending lacked a little something but I was still wholly satisfied with the way it all wrapped up and the “future” we could see of these delightful characters and their families.

Thank you so much to St Martins Press and MacMillan Audio for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A Guy Like HimA Guy Like Him by Amanda Gambill
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A friend of mine is always recommending this author, and since I’ve followed her on Instagram I have always meant to check out her three books and this was a great start!! I will admit that there is one aspect of this book that I found very difficult to read, but overall the chemistry between the two main characters and the main male lead MORE THAN MADE UP FOR that one little niggling thing. This couple was just such a delight. There were so many fun moments in the book as well as a grand gesture or two and a coming-of-age identity type of shift with some strong character development. I’d absolutely read another book with Dean in it though – and I can’t wait to read her other books.


Accomplished: A Georgie Darcy NovelAccomplished: A Georgie Darcy Novel by Amanda Quain
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

If you’ve followed my book thoughts for longer than 2 minutes you’ll know I love me a good Austen retelling and I’d never read one from Georgiana’s point of view so I jumped at the chance to read this one as an ARC!

This book is extremely YA, which I knew but had kind of forgotten about, and that isn’t always my thing anymore but there was still a lot to like about this story. The retelling was fun overall – Georgie in a private high school, “Fitz” in college nearby, Wickham up to no good as always, and some fun friends and a Lizzie Bennet sighting or two along the way. I think in general I prefer P&P retellings that focus on my beloved Mr. Darcy and Lizzie but this one was fun to picture them from another person’s potential point of view.

Overall, not a bad way to spend a weekend evening but I could have done with a bit less focus on what it might be like to be “accomplished”. 🙂

The Family You Make (Sunrise Cove, #1)The Family You Make by Jill Shalvis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’ve read a Jill Shalvis book here and there and I never mind spending the time with her characters, but they don’t always stay with me forever and that’s OK too. Because really, they’re put on the page to stay with each other forever 😉

Though I enjoyed the little love story in this book, above all I loved the secondary love story and the FRIENDSHIP as well as the wacky family. It was definitely a fun one to curl up with on a cold night and passed the time so nicely.

The SpectacularThe Spectacular by Zoe Whittall
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars. This book was multi-generational, and it was a sharp look at motherhood and what it might be like to change your mind about wanting to be a mother. Though I found the plot interesting enough, I didn’t quite connect with any of the three characters as much as I’d hoped to, and I found the shifting perspectives a bit confusing at times.

TL;DR – highly recommend The Diamond Eye, Looking for Jane, The Honeybee Emeralds, and Better Luck Next Time but almost all of these were great!!

Currently Reading: The second Lane Winslow book, Watch Out for Her, and might start the new Beth O’Leary tonight!

3 responses to “Recent Books I’d Like to Rave About”

  1. ok, adding the Jane book to my list!
    should i read better luck next time? i don’t remember us talking about that one! i love the cover and your review though.
    patiently waiting for The Spanish Love Deception at the library.
    i think i will skip the new Chloe Liese purely out of spite because i was declined… kidding!
    also waiting for Kamila Knows Best at the library, the dogs names sound super cute 🙂
    definitely checking out Penny’s new book when it comes out (aw Penny <3)
    can't remember if we talked about the Amanda Gambill book, you'll have to tell me what the little annoying thing is and if i should read it lol


  2. Lots of good stuff this month!

    Migrations was difficult. What a world that will be.

    I also found it difficult to reconcile the mother/daughter relationship in One Italian Summer. It was stuck in my craw, to use an old phrase.

    I am on the waiting list for the Kate Quinn, hopefully it comes in soon.

    My library does not have the Kate Hilton so I will have to suss that out elsewhere. I remember wanting to read it when you posted about it on IG


  3. I want to read The Diamond Eye but I am wary of reading another Kate Quinn novel because I was one of the few who absolutely didn’t like The Rose Code. But, I did love her previous book The Huntress, so mayyyyybe I’ll give her another try? 🙂


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