REVIEW: EVERY SUMMER AFTER by Carley Fortune

To read the synopsis of this book, please visit one of the following links to The StoryGraph or Goodreads.

When I saw the cover of this one, I knew I had to have it. Do I judge books by their covers? Sort of. But I definitely am inspired to pick books up because of their covers.

This story gave me all the nostalgic feelings of falling in love for the first time. There’s something so sweet and romantic to me about finding your way back to the first person that stole your heart, and that’s exactly what we get to follow. Percy and Sam met at 13 and spent every summer together for years, growing a friendship that turned into the kind of love that you can only feel when you fall for someone as a teenager.

I loved the setting of this story and the imagery of summers in the sun and working in a restaurant. Sam’s character brought a smile to my face almost as much as his brother Charlie made me cringe. Sam was endearing, innocent, and so lovable that my heart wanted to burst at least once a chapter.

The biggest drawback of this story for me came toward the end, and I worry that sharing it will spoil the story. But if you’ve read it, just know that the “big reveal” was cringe-y for me and really gave me the ick.

All in all, I really enjoyed this quintessential read, and it made me want to hug my husband (my first love).

If you would like to purchase this book, please consider using one of the following affiliate links to Amazon or Bookshop.org.

REVIEW: THE HOME-WRECKERS by MARY KAY ANDREWS

To read the book synopsis, click one of the following links to be redirected to Goodreads or The StoryGraph!

Thank you to St. Martins Press for sending me a free copy in exchange for a review!

The Homewreckers marks the second book I’ve read by Mary Kay Andrews (the first being The Santa Suit) and I am glad to say that I enjoyed this one a heck of a lot more than the first. I took a risk picking this up in the middle of a massive reading slump (the last three books I read just did NOT work for me), and I was pleasantly surprised by how well this HGTV knock off storyline lured me in and kept me flipping all 435 pages.

Here are 4 things I liked about THE HOMEWRECKERS:

  1. This book had a good mix of character development and background, plot moving storyline, and some mystery mixed in. There was just enough of each aspect to keep me invested and not so much that it felt like overkill (for instance, I never felt like we were getting too into the nitty gritty about, say, painting the cabinets in the house, or something). It kept moving!
  2. The setting on Tybee Island made this the quintessential summer read, with descriptions of hot, humid air and a beachy backdrop. I will have to make her future books always be on the docket for the warm months, because this was just perfect.
  3. The main character, Hattie Kavenaugh, was likable and endearing, and carried her own in a mostly male dominated industry (contracting work). We also got to see her have to struggle through some very human things, like grieving her husband, feeling torn on being attracted to someone new, and making poor financial decisions.
  4. I love some true crime, so the whole solving a cold case situation really was the icing on the cake for me! So much fun to read and wasn’t so heavy that it felt scary. I think anyone could read it without having nightmares.

My biggest drawback to this one happens in the last 75 pages or so, and I don’t want to spoil that, but it wasn’t a huge deal. I still really enjoyed the reading experience and will definitely read more books by MKA!

To purchase a copy of this book, please consider using one of the following affiliate links to Amazon or Bookshop.org. These give me a small commission at no cost to you!

REVIEW: WISH YOU WERE HERE by JODI PICOULT

Because I do not share a detailed description of the synopsis in my reviews, click one of the following links to The StoryGraph or Goodreads to read it!

I want to preface this review with saying: when I wasn’t really reading much for pleasure, I was always reading Jodi Picoult. Every time I went into the library or the bookstore, I would check to see if she had a new title. I’ve read nearly all of her backlist, some of them twice, and always appreciated the way she approached heavy topics in tender, eye opening ways.

But this book, as a whole, didn’t work for me.

There were some things I liked:
–> I read 75% of the book via audio and the last 25% in print. I loved the audio narration. Marin Ireland never disappoints for me!
–> I really enjoyed the imagery. The Galapagos sounded absolutely breathtaking.
–> The mental illness representation in Beatriz’s character was super raw and important.

Now, on to what I didn’t like (and mild spoilers if you haven’t read it):

I found Diana to be absolutely dreadful. There was nothing about her character that appealed to me. Her actions were insensitive and selfish, and she spent way too much time emphasizing her “life plan” in the beginning, only to flip at the end when she decided that Finn, the man who stood by her side and helped her regain her health, was “not the person” she wanted to fulfill that life plan with. Like, what? You were so concerned about fulfilling this grand plan that you didn’t care that you got his feelings wrapped up in it, had him fall in love with you, only for you to flip the switch when you realized you didn’t love HIM, but you loved the plan? Oof, that made me so mad. Finn was the best character in this book and Diana tried hard to make him seem awful through her eyes, but it didn’t fool me.

Secondly, this whole “it was all a dream” trope has got to go. It wasn’t super surprising to a Picoult fan that has read all the books, but in this case, I found it to be insensitive and eye roll worthy. Because it “wasn’t real”, there were some really heavy topics addressed in the first half that were suddenly, poof, unimportant. Sooo, what about Beatriz and her mental anguish? What about her relationship with her dad after feeling so betrayed by him? We were expected to finish the book without these characters that we spend the first 50ish% getting attached to, and it was just not fair.

All in all, I did not appreciate the way this one played out or the execution of it. It felt jumbled and rushed at best. While I do think I will read more of Picoult’s work in the future, this isn’t one I would recommend. I would recommend My Sister’s Keeper or The Pact for someone that wants a book that pulls at their heartstrings, not this frustrating one.

While I didn’t love this one, I am in the minority of readers, as the book has over 93k reviews on Goodreads and over a 4 star rating. If you want to give the book a try, please consider using one of the following affiliate links to Amazon or Bookshop.org when purchasing. It gives me a small commission at no cost to you!

REVIEW: LEASE ON LOVE by FALON BALLARD

To read the book synopsis, follow on of the following links to The StoryGraph or Goodreads.

Lease on Love marks the last time I will allow myself to start a new book at 10:30pm. I stayed up until 2:30am and forced myself to get some rest so I wouldn’t feel dead on my feet the next day, then finished the book in the afternoon that same day. It was a hilarious ride with a wonderful cast of characters, and I have no regrets on how tired I felt afterward.

My favorite part of this book was the cast of characters and how close they all were. The friendships were unlike anything I’ve ever read! Living in NYC, they all lean on each other for the support that people in small towns get from their immediately family. They all felt like family, and I was just as invested in the side characters as I was the protagonist. It embodied true friendship in your 20’s and I found myself wishing I was in this group.

From start to end, the book takes place over about 18 months, and I thought the pacing of it was mostly realistic and perfectly executed. A lot happens in the under 350 pages, and that’s the kind of book that I love! Something that will leave me thinking about it for a long time without taking a ton of my time. The main character experiences a lot of growth throughout the story, and I loved being able to witness it firsthand.

Overall, this was a solid, solid debut from Falon Ballard and I cannot wait to read more from her! If you would like to purchase this book, please consider using my affiliate link to either Amazon or Bookshop.org. These give me a small commission at no cost to you.

REVIEW: THE COMEBACK by E.L. SHEN

To read the book synopsis, click one of the following links to The StoryGraph or Goodreads!

This was a sweet little middle grade novel with a lot of heart! I had such a fun time flying through this in just about 24 hours. It’s a quick read (265 pages with big spacing) but still packs a good punch!The things I loved in this book:

Here’s what I enjoyed in this book:

  • A look into the world of growing up Asian in a mostly white world. I felt this was approached in a sensitive, age appropriate way for the target audience of the novel.
  • The figure skating references had me so entertained – and wanting to look up each of the routines referenced! It also felt very “true to life” for children that age who idolize their sports heroes.
  • The portrayal of a new, sweet friendship between Maxine and Hollie was just so special.
  • All the 90’s pop culture references made this so much fun!

Overall, I think this was a perfect read for middle grade, and was still entertaining as an adult!

If you would like to purchase this novel, please consider using one of the following affiliate links to Amazon or Bookshop.org to do so. These give me a small commission at no cost to you!

11 EXCITING MAY BOOK RELEASES

May is the kickoff of summer reading in my opinion and the beginning of some of my favorite releases every year – and 2022 is looking to be exactly that way! Here are eleven books that I am looking forward to reading!

Please note that all images link to Amazon and are affiliate links giving me a small commission at no cost to you. If you prefer to shop your favorite independent bookstore, please click here to be redirected to my Bookshop.org list with all of these titles in one spot!

I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston

Genre: YA LGBTQ romance
Pub day: May 3rd 2022

The author of Red, White, & Royal blue is back with a young adult debut! Part romance, part mystery, this one will have you turning the pages fast.

See You Yesterday by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Genre: YA romance
Pub day: May 3rd 2022

Rachel Lynn Solomon brings back her classic Seattle setting with her young adult Groundhog Day themed novel about two college students stuck in a time loop. Book Lovers by Emily Henry

Genre: Adult romance
Pub day: May 3rd, 2022

You know and love Emily Henry as the author of Beach Read and People We Meet on Vacation. Her newest title, Book Lovers, has excellent early reviews!

The Unplanned Life of Josie Hale by Stephanie Eding

Genre: Adult romance
Pub day: May 3, 2022

A second chance romance that promises found family and fried food, this story should be full of banter, heart, and LOL moments.

The Wedding Season by Katy Birchall

Genre: Adult romance
Pub day: May 3, 2022

Described as Four Weddings and a Funeral meets The Wedding Party, this book sounds like so much fun! It releases May 3, 2022.

Every Summer After by Carley Fortune

Genre: Women’s fiction
Pub day: May 10, 2022

A women’s fiction debut described by Emily Henry as “radiant”, this story is told over the course of six summers and one weekend.

Mustique Island by Sarah McCoy

Genre: Adult historical fiction
Pub day: May 10, 2022

Set in the 1970’s on Mustique, the world’s most exclusive private island, this story focuses on a divorcee and her two daughters.

Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

Genre: Adult romance
Pub day: May 10, 2022

Notes on Your Sudden Disappearance by Alison Espach

Genre: Adult romance
Pub day: May 17, 2022

A coming of age story that is surely heartbreaking and beautiful, written as letters from one best friend to another.

City of Orange by David Yoon

Genre: Adult sci fi
Pub day: May 24, 2022

From the author of Frankly in Love, this sci fi novel focuses on a man who wakes up in an apocalyptic landscape alone.

Love Radio by Ebony LaDelle

Genre: YA romance
Pub day: May 31, 2022

Described as Hitch meets The Sun is Also a Star, this witty YA romance is sure to capture your heart! The author is a marketing and publishing professional that is finally publishing her own book!

REVIEW: SOMETHING WILDER by CHRISTINA LAUREN

To read the synopsis of this book, click the following links to The StoryGraph or Goodreads!

Thank you Gallery books for allowing me to read this via Netgalley prior to publishing!

I stayed up until 2:30 am last night finishing SOMETHING WILDER, so it’s safe to say that I was hooked! I had my slight concerns about this second chance love story set in the desert of Utah, mostly because both the trope and the setting kinda had me turn my head in curiosity – I wasn’t sure if Christina Lauren could pull it off.

The first 30% of this book I felt like I sloughed through. There were times where I wasn’t sure if it was going to be a love story or just a straight up treasure hunt. But once the story really started focusing on Leo and Lily instead of some of the distracting side characters, I really found myself enjoying the ride!

The description of the scenery in Utah was beautiful was equally exhilarating and terrifying. It didn’t sound like a place I would like to be stranded! But it almost made camping and hiking with a significant other almost sound adventurous and appealing. Watching Leo and Lily rediscover their love all while solving a mystery together ended up being a great mix of romance and suspense!

While a much different read from their past books, I really enjoyed this one and would recommend it to anyone who loves love, the great outdoors, and a little sprinkle of mystery!

This title releases May 17, and if you would like to preorder it, please consider using my Amazon or Bookshop.org affiliate links. These provide me with a small commission at no cost to you!

REVIEW: THE SWIMMERS by JULIE OTSUKA

To read the synopsis of this book, click the following links to be redirected The StoryGraph or Goodreads!

I finished The Swimmers a few weeks ago and needed some time to let it simmer. Because it is so different from most that I tend to pick up, it was a bit tricky for me to decide my final feelings on it. I went with a neutral 3 star rating because, while I didn’t love this book, I also didn’t hate it.

I really, really enjoyed the first half of this book. I loved hearing about the different nuances of each of the swimmers, about how they carve out time in their day to day to spend some time underground in the water. I thought it was really beautifully written, with lovely descriptions and lyrical prose. I found myself wanting to know more about each of the characters, and also relating to it as someone who has spend many miles in a pool swimming with other strangers. We recognize one another, we know the others exist, we have casual conversation, but we never really KNOW one another. So, for the first half the book, I was extremely entertained and engrossed.

Then, the second half. This description of life for someone with severe memory loss (I believe it was Alzheimer’s, but again, it has been a few weeks since I finished it) was heartbreaking and eye opening. As someone who lost a grandparent with Alzheimer’s, I found it intriguing but also painful.

My issue, however, wasn’t with the first half of the book or the second half of the book. It was the book as a whole being published as ONE book. It felt like two books to me – or two essays pushed together into one when it should’ve just stayed as two. If I had to describe the book in one word, it would be disjointed – with the first half being entertaining/engrossing, the second heavy and heartbreaking, evoking strong emotion. It made for an incredibly unbalanced reading experience for me, and also had me wondering if I had forgotten something with the narrative as I moved into the second half. Like did I miss the part where the author explained something crucial? No, I didn’t – the perspective shift was just so drastic that I had whiplash.

Overall, I do think this book will be a big win for those who enjoy this style of storytelling – emotional, heavy, and slow paced.

If you would like to purchase this book, please consider using one of the following links to Amazon or Bookshop.org. These are affiliate links that give me a small commission at no cost to you.

REVIEW: SEE YOU YESTERDAY by RACHEL LYNN SOLOMON

Cover photo courtesy of Rachel Lynn Solomon’s Website.

To read the book synopsis, click the following links to be redirected to Goodreads or The StoryGraph.

I want to start out by stating that Rachel Lynn Solomon is an auto buy author for me after reading The Ex Talk in February of 2021. I immediately went through her backlist and loved each of them for different reasons. That being said, I automatically requested this one when I saw it available on Netgalley!

I wish I had read the synopsis a little more closely prior to requesting, because the trope of this story does not usually work for me. I find the storyline of living each day over and over again for 80% of a 300+ page book incredibly underwhelming and boring. That being said, the first 50% of this story was brutal for me. The character development was essentially non existent and the romance actually WAS non existent. Since I was expecting the chemistry buildup of two characters falling in love rather quickly, I was disappointed that the first 60% or so was just the two of them trying to figure out time traveling instead of flirting and falling in love.

At the 60% mark, when we FINALLY start to see some chemistry between the two characters, I felt that it finally picked up quite a bit. I started to feel the chemistry between the two leads and believe them. We got a lot more back story on each of them as well, leading to more in depth character development, and the resolution of the story was timely.

I want to pause here to talk about the level of steam in this book since it is marked on Goodreads as Young Adult. This is NOT a YA book targeted to the 12-17 age range. It is new adult according to the author, and it is definitely not appropriate for that younger age group that you think of as YA readers. The romance was PG-13 with a lot of foreplay but fade to black after a paragraph or two of it (perfect for the new adult audience in my opinion). But I would never hand this to a late middle schooler/early high schooler.

Overall, I give this book 2.5 stars. It was okay, but not great. I think a lot of my distaste for the first half had to do with the “Groundhog Day” trope. I will absolutely read more from RLS, but this one was just not my favorite.

TW: bullying, drug use/rehab, car wreck

If you would like to purchase this book, please consider using my Amazon or Bookshop.org affiliate links. These give me a small commission at no cost to you.