Beth O’Leary’s debut novel The Flatshare makes such a delightful read. At once like having a drink during a cringeworthy first date and sipping tea with a close friend, it hits all the marks of a comfort read. Tiffy makes a relatable and likable character as she steps from one unfortunate situation to a more awkward one as she lets go of an unhealthy long term relationship. I particularly enjoy how her friends stand by her and how they all give so generously not only to their friend group but their general community. Tiffy and Leon communicate mostly via sticky notes, and it builds the anticipation of their in person meeting so well. Plus, it gives time for them to develop their thoughts and background of each other, which invites the reader into reflection as well. They ease into a friendship and a safe space to work through some of their issues. It also brings to light emotional abuse and gaslighting ramifications, which makes room for readers to consider what makes a healthy relationship and to celebrate the growth from victim to victor. I want to be part of Tiffy’s friend group as another strong woman, and I look forward to O’Leary’s next book releasing soon.
Sucked right into Grady Hendrix’s The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, I gripped the pages like a vampire sinks its teeth into its victim. A strong sense of a southern community filled with housewives made a perfect setting for a vampire to sneak into the house next door. The mystery and drama led me through a delightful escape as I grew more interested in the heroine Patricia. It reminded me of Fright Night with an age adjustment and less gore and language. I felt reluctant to return to the real world and continue to yearn to turn these pages again. There will be regular rereads of this in the future.
Abby Jimenez’s latest romance The Happy Ever After Playlist came into my orbit thanks to Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Summer Reading Guide. The quick banter between Sloan and Tucker hooked me immediately. I found myself smiling at their quips, rooting for the relationship to evolve. The Happy Ever After Playlist maintained its fun tone throughout but unpacked some weight later in the story. Seemingly small yet realistic issues came to light, showing the characters making tough decisions to balance personal, career, and relationship goals. Themes of resilience and friendship abounded as Abby Jimenez’s characters moved forward in their lives. The story made a delightful escape as I stayed home and walked through the delights involved with falling in love, stepping forward in a career, and building emotional strength after setbacks by reading Sloan’s story.
I recently reread this classic that also made the first spot on the list of books that brought tears to my eyes. Reading this as an adult affirmed its status in literature. Wilson Rawls wrote a story about a boy worthy of our cheers as he worked to buy and train his hunting dogs. Immersed in the poor, rural setting, I felt a content participant in Billy’s life. I wanted to encourage him on his quest to become the best coon hunter as I saw the people in his life come together for a common cause. Loyalty and dedication abounded as positive themes throughout the story, not only from the dogs but from Billy as well. He made a good example what it takes to overcome odds and meet goals.
My appreciation for Jodi Picoult has grown in the last couple years. She takes difficult topics and invites readers to contemplate them in ways they might not have otherwise. This story takes a common issue that we tend to not notice. Looking at racism through the eyes of a black nurse on trial, a white nationalist putting that nurse on trial while grieving his son’s death, and the nurse’s lawyer who witnesses prejudice she didn’t realize existed I noticed we all hold more prejudice than we like to think. As the characters interact with each other, they gain deeper understandings of all; I also gained an awareness of my own blind spots and felt encouraged to deepen my empathy. Each person faces very real obstacles, and each person has room to grow. This applies to readers as well. Though tough to read at points, I’m glad Picoult examined such a full spectrum of experiences and urged readers to consider where their perspectives fall and where they may grow in empathy.
William Goldman’s classic fantasy adventure The Princess Bride provided the perfect escape for my Valentine season reading. It may do the same for COVID-19 social distancing too. Westley the farm boy and Buttercup the belle of the farm fall in love despite their odds. Though distanced for a time, they reunite when Westley rescues Buttercup from a kidnapping. Together and apart they face numerous foes, providing plenty of humor along the way. Full of comical quotes, Goldman lends a satirical voice to his story. It has delightful love quotes too, such as Westley saying, “Do I love you? My God, if your love were a grain of sand, mine would be a universe of beaches.” Westley’s quest to marry Buttercup and the friends they gain along the way have you rooting for each person’s goal. This story has a perfect balance of romance and action that may suit many for a date night to discuss the book or watch the movie.
As usual, Katherine Center delivers an uplifting and sweet story in her latest release What You Wish For. Set in Galveston, Texas, the story follows school librarian Sam as she faces significant changes in her workplace, the most significant involving the reappearance of an old, massive crush. However, love worthy Duncan seems different than Sam last saw him. Together, they learn how to open their hearts to trust and love. The school changes seem not to be the only change in this story. Center alters her balance in character growth in this story, and it makes the development a little off kilter. The focus seems to rest on Duncan, and Sam takes a backseat even though she experiences growth too. That said, it still makes a sweet story and I still recommend it. Katherine Center books always get bumped to the front of my TBR pile when I get them.
This hits shelves in July, so add it to your summer reading list!
I received a copy of Dreaming with God: A Bold Call to Step Out and Follow God’s Lead by Sarah Beth Marr from BakerBooks in exchange for a review.
Sarah Beth Marr shares her story of becoming a successful dancer and learning to follow God’s lead no matter the obstacles encountered. Her experience yields examples of how to trust God when it seems like the path to which you’re called may be impractical or even impossible. Faith comes into play as we trust God’s lead with our dreams and callings. This particularly reminds me that I need to believe God has a plan for me and following His lead ranks higher than what society expects. Even if it contradicts the cultural norm, God has a path marked. Marr experienced numerous setbacks and odds seemed against her, yet she honored God’s calling on her life and glorified Him through her discipline and stage presence. May we all learn to develop greater trust and discipline to follow where God leads.
Morgan Matson’s young adult book Save the Date makes a quiet yet humorous and heartfelt story surrounding a family gathering for an upcoming wedding. Charlie faces numerous common adjustments many readers may find familiar, and she faces them with an expected trepidation yet also with strength. It gets off to a slow start but becomes better as the events unfold and more of Charlie’s character gets revealed through her reconsidering how she views and engages in her relationships. The themes of family bonds, personal growth and reflection, making adjustments, accepting change, and moving forward all made positive messages.
I received a copy of Anne Bogel’s new release I’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life as part of the launch team.
As always, I enjoy Anne’s perspective on all matters books and the reading life. This cute, short, sweet treasure provides a quick, uplifting read. She shares some of her reading journey and encourages readers to examine their own reading lives. Through these endeavors, I gain a greater appreciation for the books that have shaped me, my record of books read and my trusted book buddies who not only can discuss books with me but also know my tastes to recommend good books. Anne’s voices always flows invitingly, welcoming readers of all backgrounds into the bookish life.
I recommend this as a gift for any reader. Though small in size, it makes a great coffee table book, or maybe more appropriately a nightstand book. Any chapter offers a dose of comfort, and its cover shows a bookish scene where anyone would enjoy reading; that particular one just happens to belong to Anne and her family. This book offers nostalgia and non-bossy advice. I for one feel encouraged to continue writing more in my book journal to track my thoughts on my reads. I have also added some new books to my to-be read list since I’ve trusted Anne’s recommendations for about a year now.
If you appreciate her book, she’s out there on her podcast as well as her blog. I belong to her Modern Mrs. Darcy Book Club and can attest to the wonderful community of readers there. I am forever thankful I received her last book to review last year and thus stumbled upon the book club.