Arc Review: The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks by Shauna Robinson

Title: The Banned Bookshop of Maggie Banks
Author: Shauna Robinson
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance / Women’s Fiction
Publication Date: November 1st, 2022
Publisher: Sourcebooks Landmark
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

I, Maggie Banks, solemnly swear to uphold the rules of Cobblestone Books.
If only, I, Maggie Banks, believed in following the rules.

When Maggie Banks arrives in Bell River to run her best friend’s struggling bookstore, she expects to sell bestsellers to her small-town clientele. But running a bookstore in a town with a famously bookish history isn’t easy. Bell River’s literary society insists on keeping the bookstore stuck in the past, and Maggie is banned from selling anything written this century. So, when a series of mishaps suddenly tip the bookstore toward ruin, Maggie will have to get creative to keep the shop afloat.
And in Maggie’s world, book rules are made to be broken.
To help save the store, Maggie starts an underground book club, running a series of events celebrating the books readers actually love. But keeping the club quiet, selling forbidden books, and dodging the literary society is nearly impossible. Especially when Maggie unearths a town secret that could upend everything.
Maggie will have to decide what’s more important: the books that formed a small town’s history, or the stories poised to change it all.” (Goodreads)

This was such a fun read! If I would have started sooner in the day when I did start it would have easily been a one-sit read.

The book is told from one point-of-view and it comes from Maggie. She is trying to figure out what to do with her life as of currently she is living with her parents and doesn’t have a job. Opportunity knocks when her friend, Rochelle, calls to ask if she would be interested in taking over her bookstore when she is on maternity leave. From that point on, things get quite interesting when she arrives in Bell River and the town will never be the same.

Maggie was a great character. I think we have all been there in wondering what is next in life. We see our friends on social media and have doubts about our future. Maggie is trying to find a job that isn’t just a job. She wants something that will be fun in some ways and keeps her occupied as she has tried many things before but never stuck to it. It was easy to understand her. Plus, she is quite humorous with her jokes, especially when she talks to Malcolm.

I wouldn’t say this is specifically a romance but Maggie does find herself going after a certain someone in the book. It is very much a slow-burn but it’s cute and had me rooting for them from the beginning. She is the shine to his grump! I liked that they both pushed each other to venture out of their comfort zone.

All of the other characters in the book were great as well. Some had bigger roles than others, but they all felt like they had a purpose. I even liked learning about Edward Bell and the secrets that could be hiding in the closet.

The plot has a little bit of everything. There is some romance, secrets, drama, and finding one’s self. It is fast-paced but not too fast where you feel like it is missing information. The town was a fun setting and I liked learning about the people who lived there and what is up with the addiction to Edward Bell.

Overall, this was a great read! I enjoy a book about books and this was no different.

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Arc Review: The Wedding Season by Katy Birchall

Title: The Wedding Season
Author: Katy Birchall
Genre: Adult Contemporary / Romance
Publication Date: May 3rd, 2022
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: ⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and netgalley for a complimentary earc to review! All opinions are my own.

“Freya Scott is getting married. Her wedding to Matthew, her long-term boyfriend, is the first of eight in her calendar this year, and as someone who prides herself on being meticulously organized, Freya is intent on making it the perfect day to remember.

But when Matthew calls things off hours before they walk down the aisle, Freya’s entire life plan goes up in smoke. Humiliated and heartbroken, the last thing she wants is to attend a summer of other peoples’ nuptials on her own.

Fortunately, her friends have an idea: together they devise a series of outrageous challenges for Freya to complete at each event, designed to distract her from Matthew and what might have been. From getting stuck in an old church bathroom and needing to be rescued by the vicar to making out with a barman at a French chateau, Freya realizes that despite herself, she might just be having fun.

By the time the final wedding arrives, she will discover that the road to a happy ending sometimes has unexpected detours, that “I do” is only the beginning––and that perhaps her own love story isn’t over just yet.” (Goodreads)

When I saw that this book was written by an author I had previously enjoyed last year I figured why not and requested it! The cover was also pretty hard to resist. Although the beginning chapter sets up for a unique plot, I felt that it wasn’t as developed as I would have liked and relied more on the quirky endeavors of the main character.

Freya Scott was dumped the day of her wedding. I feel like that is a story anyone would want to read about. She goes through a lot of emotions and some of the may be borderline crazy. With the help of her two best friends, they set out to give her tasks to complete during the wedding season. I thought this was a nifty idea and gave Freya something to focus her time on.

I will say that I never connected to the characters. Freya was a bit much at times and I understand wanting closure but she kept trying to contact him, even his mother, when he had said he needed time. She also was obsessed with a plant that he took which was just odd to me but I guess that is for those who consider themselves a plant mom, lol.

The characters all felt the same when they spoke and it was hard to actually picture who was talking because of it. Their personalities just blended together.

I was prepared for there not being romance as the author’s other book didn’t really have it either. Freya does find herself talking to another guy but it is a very small subplot. If you are looking for a romance, this book won’t be it.

The book solely focuses on humor as it’s main source of entertainment and although somethings were humorous for me, it also felt like a lot at times. Some bits just felt repetitive as well.

Overall, this one was okay but ultimately didn’t really work for me. I still would try this author again as I liked her other book and can still see this one doing well.

E-Arc Review: What’s Worth Keeping by Kaya McLaren

Title: What’s Worth Keeping
Author: Kaya McLaren
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Contemporary
Publication Date: January 19th, 2021
Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin
Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Thank you to the publisher and Netgalley for an e-copy to review! All opinions are my own.





In Kaya McLaren’s What’s Worth Keeping, during one unforgettable summer, three generations of one family receive the best gift of all time: a second chance…

The day her doctor says the one word that no one wants to hear, Amy Bergstrom discovers a secret that her husband of 25 years has been keeping from her. Now that the months of treatment and surgeries are behind her, she escapes her claustrophobic life seeking healing, peace and clarity in an ancient forest in Washington State, a forest that holds memories of her childhood summers.

After dropping off his daughter at Amy’s Aunt Rae’s horse ranch in the mountains of New Mexico, Officer Paul Bergstrom visits the fixer-upper he had bought years ago as a place to retire with his family. Although it appears fine on the outside, the inside is a disaster—just like his marriage. When he finds himself with more off-duty time than he expected, he lovingly repairs his dream home, building the future he so desperately wants.

Witnessing her mother’s health crisis had been terrifying enough, but learning the cause was genetic leaves Carly with the sense that all of her dreams are pointless. With the help of her eccentric great aunt and a Clydesdale named T. Rex, Carly just may find her faith in her future again.

Amy, Paul, and Carly discover that love and family are worth keeping in this powerful, emotional, and hopeful novel.”(Goodreads)

This book follows three point-of-views. Each one is of a family member that is trying to find themselves after heartbreaking events.

Amy is a mother and wife who recently beat breast cancer. That takes a toll on someone emotionally and physically. My mother had cancer once (different than what the book was) and it brought back a lot of those memories. Not only had she dealt with that but her marriage is falling apart and her dad has Alzheimer. I also felt everything she was feeling when it came to her dad, except it was my grandma who couldn’t remember anything anymore. It’s a terrible thing to go through and reading those parts in this book just had me reeling in the emotions.

Paul is a father and husband who is having a hard time coping from the Oklahoma City bombing. PTSD is no joke. I’ve seen someone deal with it during a plane show. The loud noises were just too much for him. He hides his feelings and it causes issues in the marriage.

Carly is their daughter and has had a hard time coping with what has happened to her mother. Since she may carry the same gene as her mother, which means she could be at higher risk, she doesn’t know what that means for her. She is newly graduated from high school and trying to work through hard questions about life.

I am so glad that each of these characters had a point-of-view. It makes the plot just that more heartbreaking and emotional. You start to understand that it isn’t always what the other person thinks. Sometimes people are going through problems on their own and they don’t want to be a burden and they just don’t know how to open up and cope. Having terrible communication can be frustrating but it is so real in all relationships!

Even though this book is heartbreaking, there is healing as well. Each character is taking their own journey and finding out what it means to live again. The ending is pretty open but it was satisfying enough and left me happy to know that maybe things will be alright.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. Emotionally, I wasn’t prepared but it was so worth it!

Mini Book Review: 500 Miles from You by Jenny Colgan

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48748054Title: 500 Miles from You (Scottish Bookshop #3)
Author: Jenny Colgan
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: June 9th, 2020
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

synopsis header
New York Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan returns to the beloved Scottish Highland town of Kirrinfief, which readers first met in The Bookshop on the Shore, and adds a dash of London’s bustling urban landscape. 

Lissie, is a nurse in a gritty, hectic London neighborhood. Always terribly competent and good at keeping it all together, she’s been suffering quietly with PTSD after helping to save the victim of a shocking crime. Her supervisor quietly arranges for Lissie to spend a few months doing a much less demanding job in the little town of Kirrinfeif in the Scottish Highlands, hoping that the change of scenery will help her heal. Lissie will be swapping places with Cormack, an Army veteran who’s Kirrinfeif’s easygoing nurse/paramedic/all-purpose medical man. Lissie’s never experienced small-town life, and Cormack’s never spent more than a day in a big city, but it seems like a swap that would do them both some good.

In London, the gentle Cormack is a fish out of the water; in Kirrinfief, the dynamic Lissie finds it hard to adjust to the quiet. But these two strangers are now in constant contact, taking over each other’s patients, endlessly emailing about anything and everything. Lissie and Cormack discover a new depth of feeling…for their profession and for each other.

But what will happen when Lissie and Cormack finally meet…?” (Goodreads)

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I don’t know why but this one just wasn’t clicking for me. It could be my mood. Maybe it just wasn’t the right genre for me at the time, I’m not sure. I do enjoy this author’s writing but I just couldn’t get into the characters or the plot.

I started this series at the beginning of June. The first book was my favorite. The second book was good but the characters were as memorable for me. This one was like the second but also a bit less. There is really nothing wrong with the book per say. Maybe I just didn’t care for the characters because the relationship lacked. 🤷‍♀️ There are a lot of maybe’s in this review, haha.

There are cameos from the previous characters and I really liked reading about them once again.

Besides the relationship lacking, I also did not like the part about the cat being ran over. As a cat owner that is a no-go. I skipped over all the parts talking about it. The cat didn’t die but yeah, not for me.

Overall, it was okay. I just couldn’t really enjoy it for whatever reason and it is what it is.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Audiobook Review: The Switch by Beth O’Leary

audiobook

48842183Title: The Switch
Author: Beth O’Leary
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: August 8th, 2020
Publisher: Macmillan Audio

Thank you to the publisher and NetGalley for an early edition of the audiobook for this title to review. All opinions are my own.

synopsis header
A grandmother and granddaughter swap lives in The Switch, a charming, romantic novel by Beth O’Leary, who has been hailed as “the new Jojo Moyes” (Cosmopolitan UK)…

When overachiever Leena Cotton is ordered to take a two-month sabbatical after blowing a big presentation at work, she escapes to her grandmother Eileen’s house for some long-overdue rest.

Eileen is newly single and about to turn eighty. She’d like a second chance at love, but her tiny Yorkshire village doesn’t offer many eligible gentlemen.

So they decide to try a two-month swap.

Eileen will live in London and look for love. She’ll take Leena’s flat, and learn all about casual dating, swiping right, and city neighbors. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire: Eileen’s sweet cottage and garden, her idyllic, quiet village, and her little neighborhood projects.

But stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected. Will swapping lives help Eileen and Leena find themselves…and maybe even find true love? In Beth O’Leary’s The Switch, it’s never too late to change everything….or to find yourself.” (Goodreads)

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After enjoying this author’s first book last year, I knew I wanted to read this one. Since NetGalley now has audiobooks, I was able to get it from there and listen to it early. Although it didn’t hit me in the feels like The Flatshare, I still liked my overall experience with this one.

This book is split into two point-of-views. For the audiobook, there is two different narrators which I really enjoyed! Especially since one of the point-of-views was Leena’s Grandmother. If it wasn’t for the two different narrators it would probably be harder to distinguish the two, ha.

Out of the two main characters, I liked Eileen the most. She is trying to find her groove after her husband left her. It would be hard at that age to get out of your comfort zone. Props to her for trying new things!

Leena is definitely still going through a lot when it comes to her family after her sister’s death. It’s understandable.I’m not really sure why I didn’t care for her. I wouldn’t really say there is anything wrong with her. I think that she was very hard on her mother but at least they work it out in the end. Family is very important and it does play a big role in this book.

The plot focuses more on the characters and their development vs. the romance aspect. Eileen has more romance going on in her life than Leena and Leena doesn’t get much happy romance until the end of the book. I do wish there would have been more when it came to the romantic relationships.

At times the plot also felt a bit slow to me. This could just be because of the content. I did really like how the two switched places. It reminded me of a lot of movies I enjoy where that is the whole beginning.

Another cool feature about the audiobook narration is that when they would call someone they made it sound like an actual telephone call. It was a nice detail!

Overall, it was still a good book just not really what I was expecting and lacked that connection or feelings like I had from this author’s first book. I think it is more a case of its me and not the book because this author is a fantastic writer.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

 

 

Book Review: The Bookshop on the Shore (Scottish Bookshop #2) by Jenny Colgan

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41716692._SY475_Title: The Bookshop on the Shore (Scottish Bookshop #2)
Author: Jenny Colgan
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: June 25th, 2019
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks

synopsis header
“A grand baronial house on Loch Ness, a quirky small-town bookseller, and a single mom looking for a fresh start all come together in this witty and warm-hearted novel by New York Times bestselling author Jenny Colgan.

Desperate to escape from London, single mother Zoe wants to build a new life for herself and her son Hari. She can barely afford the crammed studio apartment on a busy street where honking horns and shouting football fans keep them awake all night. If she doesn’t find a way out soon, Zoe knows it’s just a matter of time before she has a complete meltdown. On a whim, she answers an ad for a nanny job in the Scottish Highlands, which is about as far away from the urban crush of London as possible. It sounds heavenly!

The job description asks for someone capable of caring for three “gifted children”, two of which behave like feral wolverines. The children’s widowed father is a wreck, and the kids run wild in a huge tumbledown castle on the heather-strewn banks of Loch Ness. Still, the peaceful, picturesque location is everything London is not—and Zoe rises to the challenges of the job.

With the help of Nina, the friendly local bookseller, Zoe begins to put down roots in the community. Are books, fresh air, and kindness enough to heal this broken family—and her own…?” (Goodreads)

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After finishing the first in this series I knew that I wanted to continue and Scribd had the next audiobook so it was no brainer that it would be my next audiobook. Although this one just wasn’t as good as the first, I still liked most of what I read.

This is more of a companion novel to the first one because it does follow new characters but Nina from book one is still part of the plot which I really liked. We get to see where life has taken her.

Zoe is a single mother who is trying to do what is best for her child. I may not be a single mother but I can understand doing anything for your child. I will always put my child’s needs before my own. She is strong and even courageous to set out on a new path away from the busy city. She also takes on a lot as a nanny to children who don’t behave very well, but she treats them so well and I loved seeing their bonds grow.

As with the first book, the plot isn’t built on romance. It is more to show the development of these women and learn about their stories with just a bit of romance sprinkled in. This one did have less romance than the first and I would have liked to see more from it but that’s okay.

Overall, I am still enjoying this author’s writing and am excited to listen/read more of her books.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)

Book Review: The Bookshop on the Corner (Scottish Bookshop #1) by Jenny Colgan

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28372019Title: The Bookshop on the Corner (Scottish Bookshop #1)
Author: Jenny Colgan
Genre: Women’s Fiction / Contemporary Romance
Publication Date: September 20th, 2016
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

synopsis header
“Nina Redmond is a literary matchmaker. Pairing a reader with that perfect book is her passion… and also her job. Or at least it was. Until yesterday, she was a librarian in the hectic city. But now the job she loved is no more.

Determined to make a new life for herself, Nina moves to a sleepy village many miles away. There she buys a van and transforms it into a bookmobile—a mobile bookshop that she drives from neighborhood to neighborhood, changing one life after another with the power of storytelling.

From helping her grumpy landlord deliver a lamb, to sharing picnics with a charming train conductor who serenades her with poetry, Nina discovers there’s plenty of adventure, magic, and soul in a place that’s beginning to feel like home… a place where she just might be able to write her own happy ending.” (Goodreads)

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I know what you are all thinking, “Joanna, this isn’t usually the type of book you would pick.” And, you’re right! But, I have a newer release from this author on hold at my library and then realized she wrote other books in this series but really they are standalones so here we are!

Let me just say, I enjoyed this one a lot! This is a book about books and a young woman finding herself when life just keeps throwing curve balls.

Nina is definitely full of surprises and so relatable. Breaking instead of hitting a deer which causes other harm, that’s me. I literally break for birds, haha. She goes through so many changes from losing her job to finding a new place to live and does it all while rolling with the punches and making it feel like an adventure. It was just so lovely to read about!

There are also times that she finds herself in the midst of romance but it’s not a large part of the book which I was fine with. What we got was satisfying enough and left me rooting for them. Just like other parts of her, it doesn’t always go as planned.

The other characters in this book were great and added a lot to the plot and Nina’s life, especially her friend who always pushes her even if she doesn’t actually think Nina will do it. I really liked their friendship.

Many references can be found about books throughout and I loved it! The plot also has it’s plot twists that left me shook. I didn’t see them coming but it just made me want to continue on because I needed to know what was going to happen next. I will say that the beginning was a bit hard for me to get into because this isn’t my usual read but I am glad I stuck with it.

Overall, this is was a great read and left me utterly happy. I can’t wait to read more by this author soon.

-Joanna TheGeekishBrunette (1)