August Reads Reviews
Now that I'm done with my MFA, I've been able to get back into reading for fun. I read five books in August and I enjoyed all of them. So, I thought I'd share my reviews. I'm going to rank them from my least favorite to my favorite.
5. The Theory of Happily Ever After is about a scientist, Dr. Maggie Maguire, who studies what makes people happy. She got a two book deal for her groundbreaking research, but right before she's about to start work on the second book, her fiance breaks up with her and she spirals, which results in her bingewatching Hallmark movies. Her friends book her on a cruise in hopes of breaking her out of her funk and she meets two handsome, but very different men. Can she find her way back to her first love of science or is her career dead in the water?
A huge Hallmark movie fan myself, I loved the many references in the book. I liked the way the two potential love interests were introduced and set up, though I appreciated that the book never really veered into a full on love triangle. I thought Maggie's work was interesting, and I enjoyed reading her arc.
What I didn't love was how awful Maggie's friends were. Her friend Haley was my least favorite character. She seemed more interested in making sure her publicist career didn't tank than her friend's wellbeing and her obsession with Maggie's love interest, Sam, just rubbed me the wrong way. I couldn't help thinking of the saying "with friends like these, who needs enemies" the whole time I read the book.
All in all, it was an enjoyable read, and I give it 3.5/5 stars.
4. The Sparrow Sisters is about three sisters, Sorrel, Nettie and Patience, who live in the small town of Granite Point. Though they come from one of the founding families of the town, they don't quite fit in. Patience is the town healer, using herbs grown in the sisters' garden to help townfolk with various ailments. When a new doctor arrives, he's suspicious of Patience's methods, particularly with a young boy with autism. And when that boy mysteriously dies, Patience becomes the focus of a modern day witchhunt. Will the doctor's growing feelings for Patience lead him to help defend her or will history repeat itself?
I wanted to read this book because of the recommendation from Sarah Addison Allen, one of my favorite authors. Like Allen, the book had just enough magic to pique my interest and the sweet love story between the doctor and Patience satisfied my romanticism. I liked how the book echoed the awful history of witch trials and what some of Patience's ancestors were subjected to.
However, I was a little disappointed with how predictable the book was. I knew pretty early on what had caused the tragic death of Matty based on earlier evidence. It would have also been nice to see more of the sisters' dynamic. Once the doctor was introduced into their lives, the story focused more on the sisters individually rather than their bond.
Overall, I loved the story and give it 5/5.
3. Who Says You Can't Go Home follows big-city dreams Kylie as she returns to her hometown of Camden Lake after her life hits rock bottom. She's lost her job, she can't afford her apartment, and so she returns with a chip on her shoulder. One of the first people she meets on arrival is local sheriff, Derek, whom she had a crush on all through high school. Sparks fly between the two, even though Derek has it in his head that Kylie has become a big city snob. But when she offers to help with an event to save the town he loves so much, he starts to see her in a different light. Will Kylie go back to her big city life after the event or has the small town charm of Camden Lake lured her back for good?
I LOVED this book. So often misunderstanding in romance are weak and pointless, where you think that if the characters were better communicators, none of this would have happened. But in this case, the misunderstanding makes perfect sense and it's adorable when the characters come to realize their parts in it. I loved Kylie and Derek's chemistry, the representation of differently abled people through Kylie's brother, and the various side characters that brought a richness to the small town.
One thing I didn't like was Derek's weird fascination with Sex and the City. It was explained in the book, but it still just felt off to me. He had a bit of a grumpy side, and I think some of the things he said to Kylie could have been pulled off without that reference. But really, it was a small thing in an otherwise amazing book. I highly suggest you go read it. I give it 5/5!
Andria Henry is a fellow CBG author, and she recently released an alternative ending for her book through her newsletter. I highly recommend you read the book and sign up for her newsletter so you can see how Who Says might have ended!
2. Three Sisters is about three women who are neighbors and become unlikely friends on a small island. Andi, Deanna, and Boston are all at turning points in their lives. Andi has just moved to Blackberry Island after a failed engagement. She has dreams of turning the downstairs of her new house into a pediatric practice and has hired a handsome local contractor to do the work. Boston lost her baby, her only child, a few months ago and is still grieving. She used to paint, but hasn't been able to do more than draw several images of her beloved child. Deanna's husband has threatened to leave her if she doesn't change, and she might lose her daughters if he goes. She's tried so hard to be perfect, she's lost sight of the person she once was, her true self. Can these women overlook their differences and find strength in a newly formed friendship?
I wanted to read this book as it was suggested as a comp for my book, Barefoot in Blue Heron. It's told from the three women's point of view and it weaves together beautifully. There's a lot of laughter and tears throughout the book as each woman regains their footing after very different loses. I expect this is the first of many of Susan Mallery's books I'll read and I can't wait to dive into another masterpiece! I give it 5/5 stars!
1. The Unhoneymooners is a hilarious rom com that follows Olive as she embarks on her sister's honeymoon with her enemy, Ethan. After her sister Ami's wedding, everyone gets food poisoning except for Olive and Ethan. With a free honeymoon up for grabs, the unlikely pair decide to make the best of things. What starts off as a fake marriage slowly becomes more as the former enemies learn more about each other, and the lie that initially kept them apart. But when Olive realizes the truth about her sister's new husband, will she keep the peace to save both relationships or drop a truth bomb that will rock all of their worlds?
As with Who Says You Can't Go Home, the misunderstanding in this book makes perfect sense, though it's slightly more sinister than Kylie and Derek's experience. I loved reading as these two let down their walls and let go of their defense mechanisms. It was beautiful to see them grow as people and as a couple. The dialogue was hilarious and some of the situations they found themselves in were fresh takes on classic tropes. I give it 5/5. It was by far my favorite August read!
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Book reviews, random thoughts, and writing samples from an aspiring author.