24 Quick Book Reviews: Novel Ideas May 2020
My reading slump is officially over. I am not sure what finally broke the spell. It might have been our list of ultimate beach reads or it could have been the fabulous books I read this month. Either way, reading gave me a sense of accomplishment that I was not really having in other areas. After 11 weeks at home, I am extremely grateful for the physical health and well-being of my family. However, I am definitely feeling like I am grinding my wheels sometimes. This month, reading was my big escape. Kirsten and I both read some great books. We also have been able to speak with some great authors and indie book store owners during the quarantine (Check out our Instagram). These also helped boost our spirits. Here is Novel Ideas May 2020. We have 24 quick book reviews to help you with your summer reading plans.
The Second Chance Boutique by Louisa Leaman
All Adults Here by Emma Straub
This is by far the best thriller that I have read in a while. Thank you so much to Libro.fm for my copy of this book. I love the multiple narrators, it really made the story come alive. The book starts with a dead body at an exclusive wedding being held on an island off the coast of Ireland. The catch? We don’t know who was murdered. I love the way this story and the characters were developed. It was smart and suspenseful and completely unputdownable. I not only needed to find out who did it and why but, who was the victim?
Miss Benson’s Beetle by Rachel Joyce
Oh, how I loved this book. I have never read anything like this before. Miss Benson is a woman who has dreamed of finding the Golden Beetle of New Caledonia all her life. She finally decides to embark on the trip of a lifetime- which is no small accomplishment. Her assistant on the trip is a very unlikely companion named Enid. With her bright clothes, blond hair, and huge personality, she is the opposite of Miss Benson in every way. This story is touching, endearing, funny, and, at times, sad. It will leave you wondering why a beetle expedition isn’t a more popular subject for books. Rachel Joyce is a wonderful writer and this book did not disappoint. Thank you, NetGalley and Random House Publishing for my copy of this book. All thoughts are my own. 5 stars
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
Birds of a Feather (Maisie Dobbs #2) by Jacqueline Winspear
I liked this book and read it quickly but, it did not have the same draw as the first book. There were some parts that were strange- rather than using instinct and brains, Maisie uses some weird psychic connection to dead girls in order to find the killer. I found it odd. I will definitely read the next book in the series to see which direction the series takes because I loved the first book. 2.5-3 stars
The Imperfects by Amy Meyerson
This book had a little bit of everything and I could not put it down. When their Helen grandmother dies, the family is amazed to find out that she has left her granddaughter a massive diamond that can only be the Florentine diamond. As the family hunts for the truth, there is drama from all over the world. Everyone seems to have a claim on the diamond and how did Helen come to process this priceless treasure? This book has suspense, history, treasure, and family drama- the perfect combo for a great summer read. 4 stars
Summer Longing by Jaime Brenner
We love Jaime Brenner and this book is no exception. We once again find ourselves in Provincetown when Ruth Cooperman moves there to start her life again. She is not expecting to find a baby on the doorstep of her rented house. This story touches on motherhood from every angle- including women who are mothers with no children. With the sudden appearance of the baby, Ruth decides to reach out to her own daughter Olivia. The summer unfolds and relationships change in this delightful beach read. 4 stars
Code Name Hélène: A Novel by Ariel Lawson
I LOVED this book so much. It is so beautifully written, amazingly researched and absolutely enthralling. This book is based on the life of Nancy Wake who is a nurse and journalist who becomes a Special Operations Executive during WWII. She was an amazing woman and I had never heard of her before this book. I am so thankful to @librofm for my copy of this book. It is one of my favorite books of 2020 and for me, this is the perfect historical fiction. It has wonderful characters, a fabulous story, romance, adventure, and the terrifying reality of life during WWII. 5+ stars.
A Curse so Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer
If you love A Court of Thorns and Roses, this is the perfect book for you. It is another fantasy retelling of Beauty and the Beast and I read it for a buddy read with some bookstagram friends. I really enjoyed this book although it is definitely a lot tamer than the other books in the series. It is not a typical retelling wit more of a love triangle but, I don’t want to reveal more. It’s the first in a new series and I cannot wait to get the sequel. 3.5 stars
Of Literature and Lattes by Katherine Reay
I read the Printed Letter Bookshop last year and I loved it. When I was lucky enough to get an early copy of this book, I jumped at the chance, and the fact that it took place in the same town as The Printed Letter Bookshop was such a great bonus for me. I wish I could visit the fictional town of Winsome. When Alyssa finds herself back home after becoming involved in an FBI investigation. Jeremy has moved to Winsome to open a coffee shop and be closer to his daughter. Jeremy and Alyssa have an immediate connection but can they make it work with everything else they both have going on? 3.5 stars
28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand
This is my favorite Hilderbrand book to date and it is an emotional story is a tear-jerker for sure. At the end of her life, Mallory asks her son to make a phone call. The person who answers the phone is McCloud whose wife is the front runner to become the next POTUS. The story follows a unique love that spans a lifetime – one weekend each summer, for 28 years to be exact. 28 summers redefine what it means to be a soulmate. This is one beach read that you need to purchase this summer. 4 stars
Miss Cecily’s Recipes for Exceptional Ladies: A Novel by Vicky Zimmerman
Thank you so much to Sourcebooks for my copy of this book. It is such a feel-good book but a fair warning- reading this book will make you very hungry! Kate’s life is no exactly where she thought it would be months before her 40th birthday. Her job is not secure and she has had to move back in with her mother after yet another break with her boyfriend. What she finds is a grumpy, smart and very smart 97-year-old lady named Cecily. The two ladies begin an unlikely friendship that will change them both forever. This book is charming and delightful. 4 stars
Twice in a Blue Moon by Christina Lauren
Thank you to Libro.fm for my copy of this book. This was such a sweet love story where betrayal may not be what it seems. I listened to this book over the course of one day while I cleaned the house (a never-ending job these days) and I found the time passing so much quicker. Sam Brandis and Tate jones meet during a vacation abroad. They fall in love and share their deepest secrets with each other. Sam betrays Tate and disappears back to the US. Now, they meet again 14 years later. Can Tate get past the betrayal? 3 stars
The Mother-in-Law by Sally Hepworth
I was expecting a true thriller with this story, but it was more of a mystery. Diana is an aloof, strict parent and mother-in-law, but no one expected her to be murdered. Lucy, her daughter-in-law, struggles to understand why Diana acts the way she does, but the readers get a chance to see into Diana’s thoughts and we realize that her intentions aren’t quite what they seem on the outside. I fell in love with the story of Diana and Lucy’s relationship. The mystery of who killed Diana and why was the cherry on top of this delightful story. 4 stars.
The Henna Artist by Alka Joshi
I really enjoyed this historical fiction set in 1950s India. I know little about the artistry and meaning behind henna prior to reading and I learned a great deal about henna, herbal remedies, and Indian culture while reading this book. Because of the descriptive writing, I could picture everything so vividly. The plot, and the class structure in India in particular, would make an excellent book club discussion. 3 stars.
The Imperfects by Amy Meyerson
Thanks to author Amy Meyerson for our free review copy. All opinions are our own. Amy Meyerson’s newest novel has something for everyone. When their grandmother, Helen, dies she leaves the Millers an unexpected treasure — A yellow diamond so large, it can only be the famed Florentine Diamond. Missing since 1918, the family searches for how Helen came to possess the bauble. Family drama is stirred up, romances come and go, and intrigue is everywhere in this novel. It was a fast, fun read – PERFECT for the warm summer weather. You can see our interview with Amy here. 4 stars.
The Bookshop of Yesterdays by Amy Meyerson
After finishing The Imperfects, I immediately decided to start her debut novel, The Bookshop of Yesterdays. Miranda’s uncle dies leaving her a failing bookstore and a scavenger hunt of clues to decipher. What she learns over the course of her summer tracking down clues and trying to save the bookstore will turn her whole world on it’s head. I guessed the ending fairly early on, but this book is all about the journery. 3 stars. You can see our interview with Amy here.
A Kind of Paradise by Amy Rebecca Tan
I picked this book up back when we went to Children’s Book World educators night in October. It’s one of their picks for the best children’s book of 2019. I read this as a read-aloud with both of my children (boys 6-8) even though it’s technically a middle grade. The story revolves around Jaime, who is being punished with community service hours at the library for the summer after she did something wrong in school. Jaime is reluctant to volunteer at first, but quickly grows to love the staff and regulars at the library. I adored this charming tale and so did my kids. 4 stars.
Thanks to Libro.fm and Harper Audio for our free review copy. All opinions are my own. Real talk. I’ve just read THE thriller of summer 2020 and it’s soooooo good. A murder at a wedding. On an isolated island. In the middle of a power outage. Yaaaaaaaaas. This is an unputdownable thriller. The murder sets the scene and then we get the story in flashbacks without knowing who is murdered until the end. I’ve become v picky about thrillers recently and this one is hands down my favorite of the year so far.
The Jane Austen Society by Natalie Jenner
Thanks to St. Martin’s Press for my review copy. All opinions are my own. What a wonderful book for historical fiction lovers. Set just after WWII, a group of unlikely friends come together to save Jane Austen’s cottage. A movie star, a farmer, a doctor, and a widow all have personal struggles to overcome. Over the course of the book, the society is able to save more than just the cottage. I felt like each of the characters were personal friends by the book’s end. It was a lovely read to rekindle hope. 4 stars.
The Queen’s Secret by Karen Harper
I don’t think enough is written about Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. She was a dynamic lady who was a guiding light for her husband, King George, as well as Queen Elizabeth. This book focuses on her work behind-the-scenes during WWII. We get an inside look at the issues between her husband and his brother, King Edward, who abdicated to be with Wallis Simpson. Churchill’s relationship with the then Queen consort is also examined. 3 stars.
Winter in Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand
Irene Steele gets the shock of her life when she gets a phone call saying her husband has died in a plane accident while on a business trip. Traveling down to St. John to collect his things, she finds out that he actually has an entire second family. With her two adult sons along for the journey, she realizes that not only is her world unraveling, but her sons have hidden secrets as well. Told across multiple points of view, this is Elin at her finest. I’m so eager to get my hands on the next books in the trilogy. 4 stars.
Best Behavior by Wendy Francis
A family drama set over the course of a college graduation weekend, this novel showcases the ups and downs of having a mixed family. Twins, Cody and Dawn, are celebrating their graduation with their mom and her husband, as well as with her dad and his new trophy wife. As their parents struggle to co-parent, their mom gets empty nest syndrome, and their dad’s new young bride hides her addiction to pills, they are hiding their own secrets. I loved the look at the burgeoning adults who want to be independent but still need their parents. A great summer read. 3 stars.