Mini Book Reviews for May and June

Hello friends! Happy June Show Us Your Books! I just can’t stop won’t stop with my constant reading so I have a lot to share and many that I’ll just share over on my Goodreads instead. In fact, I think I’ve been doing more reading than reviewing and life took over a little bit in May so I missed the link up and have included a few of those books here too!! Here are my thoughts on the books I’ve read lately and be sure to drop over to Steph and Jana’s pages for the others in the link up!

Hope you’ve had a good reading life lately too – can’t wait to see everyone else’s posts πŸ™‚

Books I’d Highly Recommend:

Book LoversBook Lovers by Emily Henry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book I want to pick up and hug every day for the rest of my life.

Long story short: I will happily recommend this book for years to come. It will be one of my top books of the year. I am so honoured to have received a copy for review in multiple formats. I will be giving this book to other book lovers, lending out my copy, and watching it succeed all year. This book is exceptionally narrated by Julia Whelan but the writing itself is idyllic as well.

LIFE-CHANGING REASONS TO READ BOOK LOVERS:
1. Incredible characters and admirable, readable character growth
2. HIlarious small town setting that delights the reader (both the residents and the names of places)
3. Sweet, loving, and ever-evolving sister relationship
4. Profound love for New York City as a bit of a background “character” in itself
5. Great dialogue and chemistry and banter so many lines to highlight and revisit
6. Emotional depth in regard to past/family matters/identity/character development
7. Smart female characters who know who they are
8. Relatable situations
9. The ability to feel seen as a fellow book-lover
10. An ending to remember πŸ™‚

Charlie is my new favourite Emily Henry male lead and I loved Nora and her sister and gahhh what a perfect book.

Every Summer AfterEvery Summer After by Carley Fortune
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

5 huge stars!!! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Have you ever read a book and felt like it was almost physically painful to put it down and go on with the rest of your life?? This doesn’t happen to me often, but it did while I was reading this book. Carley Fortune has written the ultimate perfect summer reading book, but I just know I’ll be revisiting these characters in another season too.

Here are a few of many things to love about this book:

1) Two timelines – now and then…then being YA age/young love, now being over a decade later. This pace worked so well for me as a reader and I devoured every word.

2) An instantly perfect summer setting at a cabin on a lake in Canada – I loved the Canadian-ness in this book!!!

3) A feeling of nostalgia, an uncertainty about what happened in the “then” timeline, and beautifully written prose and relationship building moments that were swoonworthy

4) Themes of love, family, friendship, growing up, growing together and apart, and forgiveness. Percy and Sam and Charlie were just so special.

I absolutely loved this book so much that I had to run out and buy my own copy to have forever. Something about it reminded me of the final episode of Dawson’s Creek, which I’ll admit makes me cry just thinking about. It was so wonderful.

Thank you to Penguin Canada and Berkley Publishers for the e-ARC in exchange for my honest opinion.

Set on YouSet on You by Amy Lea
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book was so much better than I even expected – I absolutely loved the way the story was told, and felt very closely connected to the wonderful characters and their budding relationship.

Crystal was an easy character to relate to – especially as someone who enjoys social media and has had ups and downs with body love over their lifetime. She was positive and inspirational but she also came in to her own and made some powerful realizations about who she wanted to become. I loved her storyline and her relationships with her friends and family.

Scott was one of the better male leads I’ve read in ages – there was basically nothing wrong with him, which we all know is SO MUCH FUN to read in fiction πŸ˜‰ and I really, really loved how supportive he was of his family and Crystal’s career path and all of that.

I spent most of my time reading this book with a huge grin on my face but also teared up once or twice – it really gave me a wide range of emotions and there’s nothing more I ever want in my reading life so kudos to Amy for that. πŸ™‚

The banter and chemistry in this book was fantastic and it was written so well – I can’t wait for more books by this wonderful, sweet, Canadian author.

Thank you to the author for the travelling ARC copy in exchange for an honest review!! It was so fun to be apart of and I loved holding a book that so many other book lovers had enjoyed as well πŸ™‚

Lessons in ChemistryLessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I went into this book not knowing too much about what it was about, but it was utterly delightful and tugged at my heart strings considerably more than I expected it to. By the end of it, I truly felt that it deserves no less than 5 stars and the interview with the author on the audiobook version really tipped that scale for me as well.

Elizabeth Zott was a pioneer in her time and just such a fascinating character to spend a bit of time with – despite having a very different life, I found some of her thoughts and feelings so relatable, especially pertaining to motherhood and all of the feelings that come with that. I do so love a tenacious character to root for, and that was her.

This book is historical fiction due to being set in the 1960s but it felt refreshing to hear what I’d consider to be modern-day language overall and it also felt a bit jarring to see how much some aspects of life have not changed since then — UGH. I was delighted by Elizabeth & Calvin’s life choices and I absolutely loved all of the very important and impressive side characters in the novel including Harriet, Mad, and Six Thirty <– the best.

The way this book was written was snappy and compelling and it was hard to put down. I loved it and would recommend widely.

The Winners (Beartown #3)The Winners by Fredrik Backman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t even know exactly where to start with a review of this book. Maybe I’ll start by noting that I had been anticipating this book since the second I finished Us Against You in 2018 – and to have it land in my email inbox a few months before publication was a highlight of my reading year. I quickly reread Beartown and Us Against You on audio (which was SUCH a good idea, I had forgotten a lot of small intricacies in the last few years) and was ready to dive right in and pick up with these beloved characters in Beartown.

Every reader dreams of a favourite book that just never ends. Isn’t that what we say about books we’re loving? That we don’t want them to end? I felt this tenfold while reading this extremely lengthy book. I didn’t want it to end, partially because I knew this was the conclusion to a beloved trilogy, and because Backman has a way of tying all the pieces together to build to an elevated conclusion in his books and I was hesitant of the emotional journey. Fortunately, despite my speed-reading-need-to-find-out-what-happens tendencies, this book was very long and the language and way it was written absolutely forced me to savour it more than I usually do with books I’m loving. Backman is a literary genius – the way he can make the reader simultaneously follow and care for 20+ “main characters” is mind-boggling and this book at times felt a bit like a choose your own adventure book with all its paths taken (except the choice was the author’s, not ours). There were so many things hinted at throughout the book and as soon as I’d start to wonder about one thing, we were back at another group of people or a different situation. It was intense and flawless in its execution.

In regard to the actual content and plot of the story, there is not much I want to say without spoiling any of the story, but as expected, this storyline continues with the heightened tension between the communities of Hed and Beartown, particularly after a disastrous storm causes one of the communities to lose its ice hockey roof and practice in the other rink. We catch up with many of our beloved favourite characters from the first two books including Maya, Amat, Benji, Peter and Kira, Bobo, Zackell, Alicia, Sune, and Anna. Of course, there’s some hockey. As usual, there is some political drama and scheming and there are tensions between couples and there are heartwarming moments and heartwrenching moments. I laughed and smiled and cried and choked up and gasped and all of that. It was exactly the experience I expected.

Diehard fans of the series will likely savour every single page of this magnificent conclusion to where we began in Beartown – don’t let the length daunt you because this was worth every single second of my reading time and more. I was beyond sad to say goodbye to these characters but also so grateful for my many hours spent with them over the years.

Thank you so much to Arielle Fredman, Atria Books/Simon and Schuster and Netgalley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.


The Murder of Mr. WickhamThe Murder of Mr. Wickham by Claudia Gray
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

As a HUGE Austen fan, I’m not sure why I didn’t read this book the second my fellow Austenite @kaleys23 told me it was good. I think it’s because I’ve read a few Austen mystery retellings that just didn’t quite work for me – I’m not a purist and I love a good retelling/adaptation but I want it to be romantic and not a mystery…overall.

EXCEPT!!!
Important info about this book!!!

This book takes characters from all of Jane Austen’s major works and puts them in ONE HOUSE PARTY TOGETHER with a few newbies in the next generation (for one thing, there is a DARCY Jr.) This is basically the most fun thing I can imagine…Emma and Elizabeth Bennet chit chatting over dinner? Can you even imagine?!

If you are an Austen fan, this book is beyond fun to read and I really, absolutely, devoured it with a grin on my face the whole time and loved every single second of it.

4.5 stars for the pure joy it brought me – such a good story and such great reimagined characters.

Thank you to the publisher for the finished copy in exchange for a review!! I ended up listening to most of it on audio and it was exceptionally narrated. I also really love the cover of the book and the author’s note too!

Adult Assembly RequiredAdult Assembly Required by Abbi Waxman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A few years ago, I fell in love with Abbi Waxman’s book The Bookish Life of Nina Hill and I’ve read the majority of her other books now and loved them too. This new release HAS NINA IN IT and I somehow had missed that until I started reading this book so you can only imagine my delight. There are also a few characters from her book The Garden of Small Beginnings, which was fun too.

I absolutely loved every second of this book and it reminded me so much of my experience reading The Bookish Life of Nina Hill with a huge smile on my face even though this book is markedly different. There are a few similarities in tone – a cast of quirky characters, a character learning more about her own mental health and how to work through some of that, some found family, a sweet love interest, and some fabulous friendships and camaraderie.

This book is also a bit of a continuing love letter to LA, which is so fun because I’ve never been there and don’t have any immediate plans to go, but I always love to read about it. It is a perfect spring read with a garden and flowers and vegetables featured throughout the pages.

I’m always a sucker for a good character development arc and Laura’s growth and ability to stand up for who she wanted to become in this book was lovely and fun to read. I really enjoyed following her storyline in which she stands up to those who were not accepting of who she wanted to become.

Thank you for this wonderful cozy book that felt like a happy hug from some wonderful characters, Abbi. This genre is my sweet spot and this one was fantastic.

See You YesterdaySee You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I absolutely loved this and I just have not been let down by Rachel Lynn Solomon yet – I think i have enjoyed every single one of her adult and YA books!! This book had such a fun concept – two college freshmen relive the first day on campus over and over and over a la groundhog day and I just could not flip the pages fast enough to see if they ever moved on to September 22!!
Of course, there is a bit of romance and some great friend and family storylines in the book as well, but it just felt so fun to consider what this might be like and there were emotions all over the place and so many things I hadn’t even thought of that would be amazing about reliving a day and oh so frustrating too!
If you can suspend belief and you don’t mind a YA cast of characters (these two are very fresh out of high school), I would recommend this one. There are a few content warnings – bullying in high school and rehab are the two that come to mind first.

Thank you so much to the publisher for sharing an E-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Someone I Used to KnowSomeone I Used to Know by Paige Toon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I had put this book off for far too long partially because it was not readily available anywhere at the library or on subscription sites in Canada but then when a friend sent me a copy because she is the sweetest human being ever, I knew I had to get to it ASAP and now, having finished it, I know I need more of this author’s writing in my life.

This story, told in two timelines, had some hard-hitting and gut-punching moments about children in the foster system. Leah is the only birth child of her parents, but they have fostered many, many children over the years and one in particular stays long enough to basically be considered a son. Others are there for short periods of time and some for longer, but her parents treat them all with undying respect and keep in touch with many of them into adulthood. The book truly opened my eyes to what this type of living arrangement could look like and the effects it could have on a biological child as well as on the marriage, finances, and intense chaos of the home. It was amazingly well written and the present day storyline is sad but ultimately hopeful and redemptive.

I definitely recommend this one if you are a fan of Lia Louis or Beth O’Leary or Mhairi McFarlane. Something about it just reminded me of those types of authors (also British).

Good OVERALL:

Bloomsbury GirlsBloomsbury Girls by Natalie Jenner
My rating: 4 of 5 stars


I absolutely loved Natalie Jenner’s debut The Jane Austen Society in 2020 and I was eager to read her new release as well! Bloomsbury Girls is a historical fiction novel set in post-WWII London in a sweet-sounding bookshop. The cast of characters we encounter in this story took me a second to keep track of, but I really ended up enjoying all of them! Grace, Vivien, and Evie (who was in The Jane Austen Society) all come from different backgrounds; the former two women have worked at Bloomsbury Books for years and Evie begins working in the rare books section as this novel begins. I loved reading (hearing – I listened to the audiobook mostly) about how these women’s relationships evolved with each other and with other employees or those involved in the bookshop. Above all, it was fun to encounter characters us literary fans may know of: Daphne Du Maurier, Doubleday, Peggy Guggenheim, and Ellen Doubleday <– of Doubleday Publishers.

The ending to the story was so satisfying, and I won’t spoil it, but I *loved* the way these women came together and came out on top. It was fun and felt a bit like a heist got pulled off or something and I loved that.

Another gem from a Canadian author!! If you enjoy historical fiction that is NOT set in a war and follows a timeline of several different characters, I think you’d like this one as I did. The audiobook narrated by Juliet Stevenson was really just the icing on the cake. Thank you to @macmillan.audio and @stmartinspress for the gifted copy of the audiobook and ebook in exchange for an honest review. I recommend this one and The Jane Austen Society!!!

I Kissed Shara WheelerI Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

3.5 stars – I liked this book, and found it very nice to listen to on audio. The friend groups and evolving friendships and relationships and nuances were my favourite part of the book and I enjoyed the way the plot unfolded scavenger-hunt type style with an ending I didn’t quite see coming. Overall, I appreciated the writing and *certainly* appreciated the deeper meaning and messaging behind the plot, but her other two books were much more in the realm of favourites for me (And fair enough, since I was more the target audience for those ones).

Thank you to MacMillan Audio and St Martins Press for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. I really enjoyed the audiobook narration!

As Seen on TVAs Seen on TV by Meredith Schorr
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

As intended, I’m sure, this book reminded me a lot of a Hallmark movie – both in its pace and its characters and conflict and meet cute etc. It was a lot of fun! I really enjoyed the characters and the challenges they faced and OF COURSE, the ending. A small town setting is always fun – especially a small town that is a bit unexpected in its “charms”. πŸ˜‰ Finn and Adina and Kate & Adina’s mom – really just loved them all and the dialogue and banter and steam in this book worked really well.

Now I want to go back and read Meredith Schorr’s self-published works because they seem delightful too!!
Thank you so much to Forever and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Never Coming HomeNever Coming Home by Hannah Mary McKinnon
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was such a uniquely crafter thriller – reading from the villain’s point of view is not something I’ve done frequently and I found it utterly readable and hard to put down!!
Lucas Forrester had a lot of layers to him as a character and this is where Hannah Mary McKinnon seems to really shine for me – some thrillers are much more plot based but hers tend to deep dive into the characters and their pasts and relationships which lead to the plot points. I don’t want to say too too much about the story because I do think that this type of thriller is often best read without too too much information, but if you enjoy domestic multi-layered thrillers, this one would be a great summer pick.

There were several story elements I definitely didn’t anticipate and the ending was quite satisfying. Furthermore, my copy of this book included a little glimpse into the plot of Hannah Mary’s NEXT book which sounds amazing too!!

Thank you so much to Mira and Harper Collins for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.

A Rip Through Time (A Rip Through Time, #1)A Rip Through Time by Kelley Armstrong
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book held my interest throughout and I really really enjoyed its unique premise: it was fun to watch a woman from our time (2019) try to adapt to Scotland in 1869. The vocabulary is so different, so many events hadn’t happened yet, and the mystery/magical realism aspect of the story was intriguing.

Overall, I felt like the book was a bit of a smidge too long and convoluted at times, but I have high hopes of reading the next in the series and continuing on with these characters happily.

An Old, Cold Grave (Lane Winslow #3)An Old, Cold Grave by Iona Whishaw
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I couldn’t resist (partially) listening to this book excellently narrated by Marilla Wex and I loved both storylines!!

In An Old, Cold Grave, another dead body is found in Kings Cove, and lo and behold, Ms. Winslow is involved yet again. πŸ˜‰ I enjoyed the storyline with past ties to the British Home children and I am on the edge of my seat awaiting further character relationship progress so book 4 is on my immediate horizon!

I’d describe this series as a bit of that Three Pines feel I love from Louise Penny but historical and not contemporary. I so love a smart female lead character who knows who she is and what she stands for. I love small towns in books, especially this one set in BC close to Nelson. Overall I find these books excellently written, well researched, and enjoyable, particularly on audio.

Thank you to Touchwood for the finished copy!! I will be lending it to my mother and grandmother πŸ˜‰

I would Probably Pass on this:

Half-Blown RoseHalf-Blown Rose by Leesa Cross-Smith
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I really, really loved This Close to Okay despite some mixed reviews from friends. I should have absolutely done a bit more reading about what this book was about before I started it though because the infidelity storyline (even if it is grey as in this book) does not typically work for me and something about it just rankled me at times EVEN AT THE SAME TIME as I was loving the writing and the prose and the chemistry with the new partner.
Overall, I would say I really appreciated some of this writing, and found the story well-told at times, but the ending of this book absolutely did not work for me and it did not satisfy me as a reader – from reviews I can tell I am not alone in that feeling but it was still a bit of a bummer.

Thank you to Libro.FM for the advanced listening copy of this book. I will still continue to check out this author but this book just didn’t work for me as well as I had hoped it might.

TL;DR – You have to read Book Lovers, Every Summer After, Lessons in Chemistry and The Winners (if you have read the others). I would also highly recommend See You Yesterday to YA fans and The Lovelight Farms series to romance fans. If you enjoyed The Bookish Life of Nina Hill, you absolutely have to read Adult Assembly Required. Cozy historical mystery fans should check out Lane Winslow starting with Book 1.

Currently reading too many books to list but almost done Flying Solo which is out today!!!

9 responses to “Mini Book Reviews for May and June”

  1. I typically do not recommend widely and would also recommend Lessons in Chemistry widely.

    I have had Every Summer After in the backseat of my car for like a month LOL

    Love your opening photo!

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    1. Lessons in Chemistry is going in the next open hold spot on my list.

      Like

  2. ahhhhh maybe i’ll start wickham next lol
    so many good books friend!

    Like

  3. The banter in Book Lovers was sooo good. I got stuck on a few other details about the non-romantic storyline, but I did really love Nora and Charlie. I’m thinking I might reread Beartown before I finally read the next 2. I haven’t read anything by Abbi Waxman, but I LOVE when characters from a previous book appear again.

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  4. I been seeing a lot of people talk about Book Lovers.
    Have a great rest of June.

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  5. I felt the same way about Adult Assembly Required. I love her books.

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  6. I loved Book Lovers as well! Every Summer After is on my to read list. I just added Set On You to my list. And how did I not know that there’s another Backman book in the series?!! I’m currently listening to I Kissed Shara Wheeler on book on CD.

    Like

  7. I really enjoyed See You Yesterday! I am going to have to check out Backman’s books; I usually love them.

    Like

  8. shootingstarsmag Avatar
    shootingstarsmag

    Nicely done! Adult Assembly Required is on my wish list. I have Book Lovers and definitely plan on reading that soon.

    Lauren @ http://www.shootingstarsmag.net

    Like

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