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I haven’t been on top of my book reviews lately, but I’ve read a few fun books so far this summer! Here’s my mini reviews of recent reads—some from the spring, but mostly my summer reads.
The backlist titles have surprised me, but it’s true: I’m officially an Emily Henry girlie now after reading and loving Happy Place.
Books I’ve Read Recently in 2023
Beach Read by Emily Henry
It’s probably strange to most Emily Henry fans that I’ve read her books from the latest publication to the earliest, but that appears to be what I’m doing! Beach Read was definitely one of my favorites, and I totally get the hype now.
If you haven’t read it, Beach Read is a summer gem—it’s funny, heartfelt, charming, and the perfect romance story for literary lovers. January Andrews, a romance novelist who finds herself newly single and grieving her father’s death—not to mention the secrets he carried—seeks solace in her deceased father’s house on the beach.
She meets her next-door neighbor, Augustus Everett, who just so happens to be her college rival and fellow author.
The banter, the emotion, the personal journey toward forgiveness and acceptance . . . oh, it’s just so good. I fell in love with January and Gus, and I love that Emily Henry made them real: flaws and scars and fears and all.
Beach Read was published on May 19, 2020, from Berkley.
People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
I wasn’t expecting to love People We Meet on Vacation so much, because it seems to be a more controversial pick of all the Henry books. But this one might be . . . my . . . favorite? No, I think that will always be Book Lovers, but still. This was a close second.
People We Meet on Vacation follows a young travel influencer named Poppy and her former best friend Alex, who used to join her on her epic vacations every summer for years.
Poppy has it all—the dream job in her dream city—but since she and Alex haven’t hardly spoken in two years, she realizes he’s what she’s missing, and she’s willing to try one more final vacation to try and mend their friendship.
This story is such a classic rom-com, feel-good story with the “girl next door” and friends-to-lovers trope. But Emily Henry does it so well.
I loved how she weaved from past to present timelines so readers get to travel with her and watch her friendship and love for Alex blossom. Their chemistry jumps off the page, and they’re both such well-rounded characters.
It’s the internal struggles and growth for me, but the joy of exploring new places through Poppy’s eyes was a fun summer perk, too.
People We Meet on Vacation was published on May 11, 2021, from Berkley.
This Time Tomorrow by Emma Straub
I don’t need to say too much about This Time Tomorrow because I wrote a whole review on it, but I definitely loved this book so much. It will be on my list of favorite 2023 releases, for sure.
I’m excited to read more of Emma Straub. I’ve read All Adults Here and loved it, but this one was just on a different level for me. I’m not a huge sci-fi reader, and I think that’s what I loved about this book: it’s time travel without the heavy explanations and science.
This Time Tomorrow is a poignant, tender book about a girl who loves her father. The book asks the question, What would you do if you could relive your most cherished moments? As an Enneagram Four, I mean, the nostalgia was perfection.
And when I learned Emma Straub wrote this book when her own father was in and out of the hospital, it felt so deeply personal and courageous. If you haven’t picked this one up yet, you should.
I should also mention this book is narrated by my favorite audiobook narrator, Marin Ireland. Definitely worth the listen!
This Time Tomorrow was published on May 17, 2022, from Riverhead Books.
Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club by J. Ryan Stradal
Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club was an absolute joy and treasure to read. It definitely has some intensely difficult themes and plot elements, so make sure to look into content warnings if you’re a sensitive reader, but wow the heartache was worth it.
My dear friend Katie from @Lifebetweenwords has been telling me to read J. Ryan Stradal for years, so I’m glad I picked this one up.
This book is about a couple from two different restaurant families in beautiful Minnesota and how the dreams we have for our lives change as we grow older.
Aside from the gorgeous descriptions of rustic Minnesota and the nostalgia of supper clubs in the midwest that are slowly fading away, this book is about love, loss, legacy, and how we move forward in the midst of tragedy.
Saturday Night at the Lakeside Supper Club was published on April 18, 2023, from Pamela Dorman Books.
Memphis by Tara M. Stringfellow
Memphis is such a beautifully written book. I have to be honest though, I don’t think this one was for me. Some of the tragedies in this book were so hard to read about that I almost put it down on multiple occasions, so definitely read content warnings before diving in!
Other than that, the prose was dazzling and I did think this book was profoundly moving.
The characters went through so much, and they are certainly strong, inspiring characters. I wanted more for them, though, if that makes any sense.
For a multi-generational story about the strength of women and a rich community life, Memphis lost steam for me by the end. I will still probably pick up another book Tara Stringfellow writes!
Memphis was published on April 5, 2022, from the Dial Press.
The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise by Colleen Oakley
I read this one in late spring, so it’s not as recent, but oh, I enjoyed The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise. What a wonderful premise! I love a good road trip story, and I adore an unlikely friendships story even more.
This book is about twenty-one-year-old Tanner Quimby, who’s a bit isolated and aimless, and Louise Wilt, an elderly woman who begrudgingly hires Tanner as her caregiver. Neither wants to be roommates, but they stumble into the situation all the same.
Tanner starts to notice strange happenings around Louise’s house but tries to ignore them—until Louise shows up in her room with a packed bag at one o’clock in the morning insisting they leave town immediately.
This is a wild adventure story that is surprisingly tender, funny, and heartfelt. I enjoyed the unraveling of the mystery and the pacing quite a bit. I love a crotchety but endearing old lady, and I was sufficiently entertained. It was cutesy—not a blow-you-away sort of story, but a fun spring/summer read.
The Mostly True Story of Tanner and Louise was published on March 28, 2023, from Berkley.
Gigi, Listening by Chantel Guertin
Gigi, Listening was a book I hadn’t heard much about, but when I decided to give it a go, I was pleasantly surprised. This is a cute contemporary romance for the literary lover about a book owner who takes an impulsive trip to England to meet a male audiobook narrator whose voice she’s fallen in love with.
Gigi Rutherford is a sweet, likable character, and I really loved the premise of this book. She lives in her own head most of the time, and she’s definitely a hopeless romantic.
But when she shows up hoping to meet the man of her dreams, things don’t go according to plan.
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This book was predictable but fun, for the most part, and I loved the descriptions from the ten-day bus tour through the English countryside, as well as all of the cast of characters she meets along the way.
It was a sweet story about self-reflection, how we’re all meaning makers with our own intentions.
If you’re looking for a charming, light and fluffy contemporary romance, give this one a go.
Gigi, Listening was published on March 28, 2023, from Kensington.
Current Reads in Summer 2023
Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson
I’m enjoying this one a lot so far! It’s been a while since I’ve been able to be totally immersed in a multiple POV story about a flawed family, especially without a discernible plot.
Pineapple Street follows the Stocktons, an old money family in New York City. As readers, it feels like we are a fly on the wall for the adult children, and it definitely gives the Gossip-Girl-for-Adults kind of vibe as we follow New York’s one-percenters.
It’s a sharp, funny, interesting look at family, love, and class.
I sometimes struggle with omnicient POV because I feel distanced from the characters. That’s how I felt with The Nest by Cynthia D’Aprix, which so many people loved. I’m hoping Pineapple Street doesn’t leave the same taste in my mouth, but so far, I’m intrigued enough to keep reading!
Pineapple Street was published on March 7, 2023, from Pamela Dorman Books.
The Unsinkable Greta James by Jennifer E. Smith
This one has been a long time coming! I have to admit, I was so excited to read The Unsinkable Greta James when it first came out, but I’ve put it down several times without getting too far, and I’m not really sure why?
Sometimes when I pick up an anticipated book, I worry that I’m not ready for it (hi, hello, big mood reader over here) or that it won’t meet my expectations. I suspect that’s what’s going on.
Either way, I’m excited to get into it and see for myself. The writing definitely sucks you in—this is a propulsive story about Greta James, a popular musician who finds herself on an Alaskan cruise with her emotionally distant father after the death of her mother.
The Unsinkable Greta James is about grief, love, loss, second chances, healing past wounds, and a little bit of romance (here’s hoping that part gets a little more engaging).
The Unsinkable Greta James was published on March 1, 2022, from Ballantine Books.
Those are my mini reviews and brief thoughts so far on recent reads and current reads in 2023! Have you read any of these books? What are you reading currently? Let me know!