Book Review

Book Review: The Key to My Heart by Lia Louis

Rating: ★★★★
Audience: Contemporary Fiction + Romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Lia Louis
Publisher: Atria
Release Date: December 6th, 2022
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A heartwarming novel about hope after loss as a young widow receives mysterious messages of love from the “must-buy author” (Jodi Picoult) of Eight Perfect Hours.

Sparkly and charming Natalie Fincher has it all—a handsome new husband, a fixer-upper cottage of her dreams, and the opportunity to tour with the musical she’s spent years writing. But when her husband suddenly dies, all her hopes and dreams instantly disappear.

Two and a half years later, Natalie is still lost. She works, sleeps (well, as much as the sexually frustrated village foxes will allow), and sees friends just often enough to allay their worries, but her life is empty. And she can only bring herself to play music at a London train station’s public piano where she can be anonymous. She’s lost motivation, faith in love, in happiness…in everything.

But when someone begins to mysteriously leave the sheet music for her husband’s favorite songs at the station’s piano, Natalie begins to feel a sense of hope and excitement for the first time. As she investigates just who could be doing this, Natalie finds herself on an unexpected journey toward newfound love for herself, for life, and maybe, for a special someone.

Thank you Book Club Favorites and Simon & Schuster for a gifted copy.

MY HEART.

I knew going in this book was going to hurt. Widow plots are some of the hardest for me to read about. I truly enjoyed this one though and all the truth and love and pain it held. Another beautiful book by Lia Louis!

I loved the overall theme of how grief creates its own path. And that it’s OKAY to have a different path than someone else’s. The side characters provided a lot of different angles to how people approach those experiencing grief too. It became multi-faceted and complex and had all of my heart strings pulled.

The romance was so dang sweet. I loved the slow steps into it and how a friendship grew first. There’s a tiny dash of a love triangle (it’s good, I promise!) and I loved how it worked out in the end.

One particular chapter at the end had me tearing up and wanting to hug Natalie. A fantastic and poignant read that I’d easily recommend!

Overall audience notes:

  • Women’s Fiction / Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses
  • Violence: low
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: loss of a spouse (theme), loss of loved ones, grief, depression

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Book Review

Book Review: Sunkissed by Kasie West

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: YA Contemporary + Romance
Length: 320 pages
Author: Kasie West
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Release Date: May 4th, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A lighthearted and swoony contemporary YA romance by fan-favorite author Kasie West about a girl who finds that a summer spent at a family resort isn’t as bad as she imagined…and that falling in love is filled with heartache, laughter, and surprises!

After being betrayed by her best friend, Avery is hoping for a picture-perfect summer. Too bad her parents have dragged her and her sister to a remote family camp for the entire summer. And that’s not even the worst part. Avery also has to deal with no internet, a cute but off-limits staff member, and an always-in-her-face sister.

But what starts as a disaster turns into a whirlwind summer romance as Avery embarks on an unexpected journey to figure out what she truly wants and who she wants to be.

HIT HOME.

This made me want to relive some of my high school years and figure out some aspects of my life. I love how this was approached. Watching Avery find her passion and owning her truths to her family and friends really resonated. I have been deeply reminded why I love Kasie West’s books and the way she’s able to captivate and fill my cup.

Avery was a great teenage main character. Not over the top dramatic, but honest in her faults, and struggling to remember her strengths. I loved her character progression and how she took a chance on her summer to try new things.

Add in a sweet romance with Brooks and I was smitten. Teen, summer love! Oh how cute. I liked their relationship a lot too. From being honest with one another, and learning (and admitting) about communications issues felt true. This whole book was a warm summer hug.

I read it in a day and it was super cute and relatable to my soul.

Overall audience notes:

  • YA Contemporary + Romance
  • Language: none
  • Romance: kisses
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: a parent in a care home (unable to care for themselves after a stroke)

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Book Review

Book Review: Meet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher

Rating: ☆☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary romance
Length: 352 pages
Author: Libby Hubscher
Publisher: Berkley
Release Date: March 23rd, 2021
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

Marin Cole has never:
Seen the ocean
Climbed a mountain
Taken a risk on love
….But if her sister’s plan works, she just might do all three.

Ever since her journalist mother died on assignment, Marin has played it safe, refusing to set foot outside the state of Tennessee. Her wild-child younger sister, Sadie, has trotted the globe as a photographer, living off of art and adrenaline.

When Sadie returns from a tough assignment abroad and looks a little worse for wear, Marin reluctantly agrees to a sisters’ spa weekend on the tropical island of Saba. But her lifelong fear of travel is affirmed when Sadie misses the flight, Marin’s luggage gets mixed up with another passenger’s, and an episode of turbulence sends her hurtling into the lap of Lucas Tsai, the handsome stranger who stole her sister’s seat.

For the first time in a long time, Marin has to step outside of her comfort zone as she explores the island with Lucas and learns what she’s been missing out on. With each breathtaking new experience, Marin gets closer to her real self, the man she’s falling for, and the heart-wrenching truth about why she’s there in the first place.

EMOTIONALLY BEAUTIFUL.

LOVED THIS BOOK SO DANG MUCH Y’ALL.

This was filled with so much!!

I love the strong bonds of sisterhood. Marin and her sister, Sadie were partners in life and everything else. I adored both of them with all of my heart and their family dynamic hit home in many ways. I’m going to start crying just trying to type this review out.

The romance was incredibly tender. It was somehow quick-moving but perfectly paced. I was all in from the moment Lucas sat beside Marin on the plane. It was incredibly romantic and had me swooning and cheering them on. It was everything I love to see in an passionate island getaway.

The setting had me wanting to brave my own fear of flying and get on a plane ASAP. It was enchanting and the locals were fantastic. I love that Marin got to meet many new people and really explore for the first time in her life.

Marin had incredible growth. She stretched and found a whole new world to stand in. Marin chose herself [finally] first and it allowed her to be able to see where she wanted to go next and with who.

Many times I was brought close to tears and the pure raw emotion emanating from the pages. This story will break you completely down and still be able to hand out hope in the end. I love how this combined life and love together to create one magnificent read. I couldn’t put this down and I loved every second of it (even if I wanted to cry half the time).

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary romance
  • Language: a little
  • Romance: kisses to closed door
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: a dicey plane ride, a loved one with terminal illness, loss of a parent

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Book Review

Book Review: All About Us by Tom Ellen

Rating: ☆☆☆☆
Audience: Contemporary Romance
Length: 400 pages
Author: Tom Ellen
Publisher: HQ
Release Date: October 13th, 2020
Image & Other Reviews on: Goodreads

BOOK SUMMARY:

A chance encounter leads to the journey of a lifetime in this powerful and emotional love story, perfect for fans of One Day, Me Before You and In Five Years.

If you could turn back the clock, would you choose a different life?

Ben’s always loved the month of December, but this year, with his relationship with Daphne on the rocks, it’s missing its usual magic. And then his old friend Alice gets back in touch. Ben’s always thought of Alice as the one that got away, and he can’t help but wonder: what if he’d done things differently all those years ago?

He never imagines he might get to find out… but when a stranger sells Ben a mysterious watch one freezing winter’s night, he’s astonished to wake up the next morning on 5th December 2005: the day he first kissed Daphne, leaving Alice behind.

Now Ben must make the biggest decision of his life, all over again. But this time around, will he finally find the courage to follow his heart?

All About Us is a captivating novel of heartbreak and loss, friendship and hope – and how the choices we make throughout our lives will shape our destiny.

AN ENJOYABLE RETELLING.

I must have missed the memo that this was A Christmas Carol modern retelling. Am I upset about this fact? Not a bit, I loved the way this was written.

It’s a much more somber and heart-felt Christmas/Holiday romance. There’s a lot to unpack with Ben and watching him find his way again. He had an incredible character arc that I appreciated and felt for. I ended up in his corner, wanting him to learn from his mistakes and becoming a better man.

I didn’t love that there was a cheating aspect woven into the plot. It’s a bit of a gray area type cheating, but still there emotionally and physically. Though usually I really hate a book that has this, I found myself not hating it as much this time around. It had its reasons for being there and captured the essence of what Ben was choosing to do.

Seeing Ben and Daphne rekindle things and work through them was a beautiful touch. I don’t read (or even come across) many romance involving a married couple and I always feel them on a different level as someone who is married.

Overall audience notes:

  • Contemporary Holiday Romance
  • Language: some strong
  • Romance: kisses; a mention of a few closed door scenes (no detail)
  • Trigger/Content Warnings: emotional/physical cheating, sudden loss of a parent, depictions of depression and grief

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