This was a mixed week of audiobooks and physical books, with some really good reads topping my list!
Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust
A loose retelling of Sleeping Beauty with so much depth and nuance, I loved this book. Read my full review of Girl, Serpent, Thorn by Melissa Bashardoust here.
Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan
I loved Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan and am disappointed that I let this one sit on my Book of the Month backlist for so long. This is a contemporary romance about Yasmen and Josiah, who thought their love would never fall apart, but when life gets too hard, the two stopped talking and their marriage ended. Despite that, they still remain dedicated to their children and their thriving restaurant business, and soon both Yas and Si question if there’s still a spark between them. This is a second-chance romance story, with a lot of heart and I loved how Kennedy Ryan wove Black culture, mental health, and friendship into this novel. It looks like this is the first book in a series, and I can’t wait for what comes next.
The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle
I love when a book is more than what I expected it to be. Based on the synopsis and the cover of The Royals Next Door by Karina Halle, I thought this book was going to be a gossipy take on royal neighbors moving into a small town. Yes, it’s that, but the love story between elementary schoolteacher Piper and royal bodyguard Harrison is sweet and lovely, making this a good almost-summer read.
Heard It in a Love Song by Tracy Garvis Graves
Having loved Tracey Garvis Graves’s book The Girl I Used to Know, I was excited for Heard It in a Love Song when it first published, but kept pushing it back on my reading list. This story of Layla, a singer/music teacher, and Josh, an electrician and single dad, is sweet beyond measure, as both leads try to discover what makes them happy after their first marriages end. While the book was predictable, the writing was impeccable.
Go Set a Watchman by Harper Lee
Like so many people, I consider To Kill a Mockingbird to be a nearly perfect book, but I’d heard mixed reviews about Go Set a Watchman, the 2015 published follow-up that was discovered after Harper Lee’s death. I have many mixed emotions about this book, which I have to believe was the intent of the author. Jean-Louise Finch (Scout) is all grown up and living in New York City, but when she comes home to Macon, Alabama, she discovers that her revered father, Atticus, is not the hero she has believed him to be. This was a hard character shift to understand after thinking of Atticus as one of the greatest fathers in American literature.
The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz
What I thought would be a ghost story about a creepy location for a writer’s event turned out to be so much more. The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz, her debut novel, has ghosts, lovers, frenemies, and mysteries galore. It is a character-driven novel with so many twists of whodunnit that you’re never sure of who is in control. Alex, the protagonist, is thrilled to receive a last-minute invite to Rosa Vallo’s secluded Blackbriar Estate for the famed author’s exclusive writer’s retreat, but when she finds her former best friend, Wren, amongst the other guests, Alex quickly learns that what is supposed to cure her writer’s block could be much more complicated.