Review: The Good SisterTitle: The Good Sister
Author: Sally Hepworth
Genre(s): Romance, Thriller
Pages: 309 (Hardcover)
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Steaminess: 2 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Fern Castle works in her local library. She has dinner with her twin sister Rose three nights a week. And she avoids crowds, bright lights, and loud noises as much as possible. Fern has a carefully structured life and disrupting her routine can be ... dangerous.

My Thoughts

I was really excited to read THE GOOD SISTER because my IRL friend Jenny recommended it to our book club and I usually enjoy the same type of thrillers she does. We decided to read it as September’s book and I’m glad we did so I’d read it sooner rather than later.

I loved THE GOOD SISTER. It was a fantastic story that kept me reading until I was done with the book. I saw the big twist coming a mile away; it didn’t ruin the suspense or story for me, though, because I still wanted to know how everything would play out. I wasn’t disappointed.

I really liked the characters in THE GOOD SISTER. I liked that even though I guessed the twist, I still kept wondering if I was right. I also loved that a couple of the main characters were neurodivergent. I have sensory issues, not to the extent Fern does, though. I really connected with that aspect of Fern’s character.

Angry is just a pen name for sad…. In my experience, nine times out of ten if you are kind to the angry person, you will calm them down and find out what is really going on with them.

I would’ve given THE GOOD SISTER 4 stars, except near the end Hepworth perpetuated the stigma that people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) are violent psychopaths. BPD’s misunderstood even among the psychological community. Those trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) understand BPD the most. I simply wish she had talked to a DBT-trained psychologist or someone who’s diagnosed with BPD before she used BPD as one of the reasons why the antagonist did what they did.

I don’t think cancelling someone is the right answer, though, because it takes away from what’s important—educating as many people as possible to help break the stigma surrounding BPD and other mental illness. Because of this, I’ll continue to read and, most likely, enjoy Hepworth’s novels.

Have you read THE GOOD SISTER? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for sexual assault, loss of a child, and loss of a parent.

Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens AgendaTitle: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Series: Simonverse #1
Genre(s): Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance, YA
Pages: 325 (Kindle)
Source: Library
For: Play Book Tag
Rating:
Steaminess: 1 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight.

My Thoughts

I grew up in a very conservative religious family. Like many Christian religions, my religion believes acting on “same-sex attraction” is a sin. Because of this, I knew about SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. But, because it’s about a closeted gay teenager, I’ve always shied away from reading it. I began questioning my own sexuality about eight years ago and I came out as queer on June 1. I’m now ready to embrace that part of me without feeling shame, which includes reading LGBTQ+ literature.

Last year, I watched LOVE, SIMON on Hulu and fell in love with Simon Spier and his story. Because of the movie, I wanted to read SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. I decided to read it as part of Pride Month.

Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever.

SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA is a heart-warming story of love and acceptance in all its forms. Simon’s coming out felt familiar. When I read about his fear of rejection and/or disappointing those he loved if he came out, I felt like I understood.

I really felt for him when he was outed without his consent and bullied at the hands of other students in his school. I actually really love how Albertalli used the bullying Simon faced as a way for him to feel supported by his friends, family, and teachers as they rallied around him.

I loved the characters in SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. I loved the relationship he had with Blue. I loved reading their emails to each other. They were fun and witty. I also loved his relationship with his parents and sisters. His family was protective and supportive, but not without their flaws which made the story more realistic.

Have you read SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for bullying.

Review: Every Summer AfterTitle: Every Summer After
Author: Carley Fortune
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 320 (Paperback)
Source: Library
For: Personal Interest
Rating:
Steaminess: 3 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Six summers to fall in love. One moment to fall apart. A weekend to get it right. They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek--the man she never thought she’d have to live without.

My Thoughts

When I read Wendy’s review of EVERY SUMMER AFTER, I put it on hold right that second at my local library. There was a little bit of a wait, but I finally got it a couple of weeks ago. I’m so happy I read it because I adored this book!

The friends-to-lovers trope is one of my favorites and this one didn’t disappoint. I haven’t read many second-chance romances, but I think I will if they’re anything like EVERY SUMMER AFTER. I thought Fortune was a master at writing sexual tension between her characters, and I loved Percy and Sam’s interactions because of it.

Betrayals don’t cancel each other out. They just hurt more.

EVERY SUMMER AFTER is a heart-warming story of love, betrayal, loss, and redemption. I’m really glad I put my other reads on hold to make sure I got this one read before I had to return it to the library. Not only is it a fun contemporary romance, it also deals with some heavy themes to give the story some depth.

I ended up reading EVERY SUMMER AFTER in two sittings, which isn’t normal for me. If I can read a book that fast, then you know I really love the characters and story. I thought each character had distinct personalities and were fun to get to know. I don’t think there was a character I hated. Besides Percy and Sam, I also really loved Charlie, Sam’s older brother.

I adored the setting of EVERY SUMMER AFTER. It made me think of all the time I’ve spent sailing on Bear Lake with Corey and his family. Whenever the characters were on the dock down at the lake, I could picture it perfectly.

Ever since I finished reading EVERY SUMMER AFTER, I’ve been trying to decide if I want to give it 4 or 5 stars. I’m honestly still torn about it. For now, I’ve given it 4.5 stars, but I may change it to 5.

Have you read EVERY SUMMER AFTER? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for bullying and loss of a parent.

Review: The Midnight LibraryTitle: The Midnight Library
Author: Matt Haig
Genre(s): Fantasy
Pages: 304 (Hardcover)
Source: Library
For: Book Club
Rating:
Steaminess: 0 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

Between life and death there is a library, and within that library, the shelves go on forever. Every book provides a chance to try another life you could have lived. To see how things would be if you had made other choices... Would you have done anything different if you had the chance to undo your regrets?

My Thoughts

THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY was my IRL book club’s pick for June. I was really excited to read it as I’ve heard a lot of great things. After reading it, I can tell you that I wasn’t disappointed and I hope I can do it justice with my spoiler-free review.

I honestly didn’t know what to expect while reading THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY. It ended up being one of the most profound reading experiences I’ve ever had. It spoke to me like no other book has. I felt seen as someone who has struggled with severe depression, suicidal ideation, and crippling regret for most of my adult life.

But there is no life where you can be in a state of sheer happiness for ever. And imagining there is just breeds more unhappiness in the life you’re in.

I understood Nora, all the emotions she felt, especially the loneliness and despair. I understood her suicidal ideation and urges. AND, even when she didn’t, I knew her depression and loneliness were lying to her–telling her she wasn’t needed, no one wanted her around, she let everyone down, or they’d all be better off without her.

I’m convinced that Nora’s journey through THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY was the only way she could’ve learned what and come to the conclusions she did. After all, one of the lessons the librarian wanted her to realize was, “The only way to learn is to live.”

Haig beautifully illustrates what Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) did in helping me want to build a life worth living. Its message that it’s not too late to start living life is one I think we all need to be reminded of once in a while.

Have you read THE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for suicide, suicidal ideation, and loss of a pet.

Review: Dear Emmie BlueTitle: Dear Emmie Blue
Author: Lia Louis
Genre(s): Contemporary, Romance
Pages: 311 (Hardcover)
Source: Library
For: Personal Interest
Rating:
Steaminess: 1 Flames

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There's a trigger warning for this book. See Trigger Warning section at end of review for more details.
Goodreads Synopsis

At sixteen, Emmie Blue stood in the fields of her school and released a red balloon into the sky. Attached was her name, her email address … and a secret she desperately wanted to be free of. Weeks later, on a beach in France, Lucas Moreau discovered the balloon and immediately emailed the attached address, sparking an intense friendship between the two teens. Now, fourteen years later, Emmie is hiding the fact that she’s desperately in love with Lucas. She has pinned all her hopes on him and waits patiently for him to finally admit that she’s the one for him.

My Thoughts

When I read Wendy’s review of DEAR EMMIE BLUE, I put it on hold right that second at my local library. Fortunately for me, there was no wait and I got to pick it up the very next day. I’m so happy I got it as fast as I did because I absolutely adored this book!

OMG! This book! I can’t say enough good things about it. DEAR EMMIE BLUE reminded me of a cross between My Best Friend’s Wedding and something I’d read that’s written by Beth O’Leary. (If you don’t know, FLATSHARE by Beth O’Leary was my favorite book last year.)

I loved Emmie. I related to her so hard. I didn’t have a flighty mom and I knew my dad, but I’ve dealt with a lot of severe family drama since my early teenage years. I’m a victim of sexual assault and bullying like her. A lot of her fears and anxieties mirrored my own.

Maybe home isn’t a place. It’s a feeling. Of being cared for and understood. Of being loved.

I loved the other characters in the novel too. Her friendship with Lucas and his family was such a great way to set up the story. I loved Lucas’ brother Eliot and I loved his parents Amanda and Jean. Her work friends, Rosie and Fox, were fun and a bit dirty, which endeared them to me because I love dirty jokes. I loved her landlady Louise the most. I absolutely adored every scene with Emmie and Louise together.

I adored the setting. The constant go between England and France. It was so much fun to read about the two towns where Emmie and Lucas lived, the differences between them and Emmie and Lucas.

DEAR EMMIE BLUE is such a beautiful story. I really needed it right now. I felt ALL the emotions. There were times when I laughed, cried, yelled, and swooned. I was on the edge of my seat for the last two-thirds of the novel because I wanted to know how everything panned out.

I honestly don’t want to say anymore because I don’t want to give anything away. Just know that DEAR EMMIE BLUE may be a fun contemporary romance AND it’s so much more! It deals with some heavy themes that give the story some depth. It’s my second 5-star read of the year.

Have you read DEAR EMMIE BLUE? If so, what did you think?

Trigger Warning

There is a trigger warning for sexual assault (not rape) and loss of a parent.