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January 2024 Book Reviews

Books I read this month:

(Click on the cover images to purchase from Powell's Books)

Happy Place by Emily Henry:

This novel follows a group of friends on their decade-long tradition of a Summer trip to Maine. Emily Henry writes cute and funny dialogue between old friends who are coming into their careers and adult lives. The story flashes back to years past and follows the events of their special week together. Things are changing in their lives, the main focus is a couple in the group who have secretly split but are faking their feelings in front of their friends. It’s funny and heartbreaking and heartwarming. I was invested in this relationship - I was reading late into the night because I needed to know what happened to break this sweet couple up and then I needed to see it through to the end, hoping they would get back together! The characters are so well written with real insecurities, relatable life changes and challenges and big, forever love for each other. It has a couple of sexy parts, making this my favorite romantic fiction book ever. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Oh Sam, Sadie and Marx! You will forever be in my heart. I listened to this book. The author writes these main characters so beautifully and with details that really brought them to life for me. Much of the book was very moving but not so intense that it was stressful to follow along with their lives. I loved the introduction into video games, some of the history of design and that world. I appreciated the insight into chronic pain and grief. It doesn’t tie up with a bow like I usually prefer, as the author has left us room to imagine what their futures might hold tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Secret Book of Flora Lea by Patti Callaghan Henry

What a story! This book has mystery, history, sisters, lovers, grief and longing. It gripped me right away. There are two very mild sex scenes, otherwise making it a book I could/would read with a preteen. The sibling story and young love story is so endearing. During World War II, two sisters are sent to the country while London is being bombed. They have a magical year, with the older sister Hazel (15) falling for a local boy and the younger sister Flora (6) protected from the horrors of war with nature, fairytales and love from her sister and their country family. Their peace is shattered when Flora vanishes one day. The book follows Hazel’s adult life as she uncovers evidence that Flora may still be alive twenty years after her disappearance. I listened to this book and could not devour it fast enough. The tale is just intense enough that, especially as a parent, it was a bit unsettling not to know how it ends. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

The Circus Train by Amita Parikh

This historical fiction set during the World War II era follows the life of a young woman named Lena, the daughter of an illusionist in a fancy circus. I liked following along with her life challenges, overcoming disabilities and being an outcast to have great success academically in a time when women had limited opportunities. Lena’s story is alongside the stories of her father and her friend Alexandre, who are torn away from the circus and made prisoners in a Jewish encampment. The plot is a bit of a tangle, but overall I enjoyed the book. ⭐️⭐️⭐️✨

Ruthless Vows by Rebecca Ross

The second book in the pair (see December review for Divine Rivals). Rivaling Gods, war, and young, but true, love. Roman and Iris are very sweet characters, relentless in their efforts to do what’s right, combined with their desire to end up together. I love the magic of their typewriters and their charming letters back and forth. I have always liked Greek mythology so I really enjoyed both Divine Rivals and Ruthless Vows for the tales they wove in. Enva shows up more in this book and her strength along with Iris’s makes this a good book for young women, too. The few romantic scenes in these books are totally mild. I listened to this book on Audible. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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