I’m pretty happy with the books I read in May and June so far. May was a little bit of a slump month for me and I was playing catch up with ARCs, but I’m finally out of the dry patch and back to my love of reading! Slumps are usually unpredictable me, and not the best thing for a book blogger, so it’s always great to finally feel motivated to pick up a book again. Here are the books I read in May and June 2020!
She’s single. But it can still be complicated…
Penny Bridge has always been unlucky in love.
So she can’t believe it when she meets a remarkable new man.
Followed by another.
And then another…
And all of them want to date her.
Penny has to choose between three. But are any of them The One?
My rating: ☆ ☆
Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC!
The Love Square is honest and emotional read with lovable characters and a satisfying conclusion. It highlights the importance of finding yourself, and discovering what will make you truly happy. The book started off strong. It was engaging and funny, I liked the characters and it felt mature and relevant. But as the plot went on it sadly started to lose me.
One thing I realised early on in the book was that I didn’t particularly care who Penny ended up with. I wasn’t keen on any of the men, and I found their individual arcs to be unimpressive. Romantic chemistry was seriously lacking between the three and Penny. I was more interested in her infertility struggle and journey to IVF than who she actually fell in love with. The Love Square didn’t read like a romance despite its title, which was disappointing.
The main character is a cancer survivor, and I really liked how the author highlighted the struggles that come after treatment. The character points out how anyone going through treatment is desperate for it to be over, but no one really talks about what happens when it’s actually over. And as someone who has not been through that kind of traumatic experience, it was interesting to learn how someone who is cancer-free feels after their victorious battle. It doesn’t all just go back to normal, and I really wished this was explored a bit more in the book.
Laura Jane Williams is brilliant at writing conversation. The dialogue in The Love Square, much like Our Stop, is appealing and charming. As a reader, you thoroughly get to know the characters through their speech. The personalities of each of the characters really shines, especially through the way they interact with one another. I found it really easy to distinguish the difference between Penny’s love interests, her family and her friends.
Overall, The Love Square was okay. I adored it in the beginning, but as the story developed I lost interest in the original concept. By the end, I was only focused on Penny’s stability rather than her love story.
Two families. One cancelled flight. And a last minute house swap…
Things get desperate for strangers Harriet and Sophie when they become stranded with their families in Heathrow’s Terminal 5. Each woman has her own reason for really really really needing the family holiday they’ve anticipated for months. But an unruly volcano has other plans for them. When their flights are cancelled, the families swap houses and discover that sometimes the best things in life happen close to home.
This ash cloud has a silver lining, even if no one can quite see it yet.
My rating: ☆☆☆☆
Thank you to the author and publisher for this ARC!
If you like The Holiday, you’ll like this book. The Staycation gives the same fuzzy charm as any feel-good movie. It’s heartfelt but funny, which in my opinion, is the best combination.
After a cancelled flight to Italy, Harriet and her family end up staying in Sophie’s house in London. While Sophie and her family end up staying in Harriet’s house in rural Gloucestershire. Neither of the women have perfect marriages. The flame between Harriet and James is dying out, and despite the little moments they have together, there’s a still a cavity between them. Dan thinks of himself as a provider to Sophie. He pretty much arranges everything she does and wears. What he calls it “looking after”, most people would call possessiveness.
The plot is totally addictive. When I put the book down, I was still thinking about the characters and the story. I always wanted to know what would happen next. I also found myself feeling really comfortable with this book. It’s the kind of story I would reach for when the sun is shining. Despite the struggles the characters face, there’s something about Gorman’s writing that just feels warm and inviting.
The characters were so well developed. I knew who I liked and who I didn’t like from just a few pages of dialogue, which gave the book a good head start. However, I definitely feel like we could have had more from James as a character. Dan had the kind of personality that’s very easy to figure out. It doesn’t take long to dislike him. James on the other hand didn’t seem to have much of an opinion on anything, didn’t react much, and fell into the background.
Still, I would have liked more from the ending, it felt a little rushed. I wasn’t totally satisfied, and I think the circle could have been completed with an epilogue or a fuller conclusion.
Overall, The Staycation is an entertaining read. I liked the dynamic between the two families and the fact they both had to overcome challenges to grow closer. If you’re looking for a relaxing, poolside, charming read, this is the book for you.
Knows her own mind.
OLIVE is many things, and it’s ok that she’s still figuring it all out, navigating her world without a compass. But life comes with expectations, there are choices to be made, boxes to tick and – sometimes – stereotypes to fulfil. And when her best friends’ lives start to branch away towards marriage and motherhood, leaving the path they’ve always followed together, Olive starts to question her choices – because life according to Olive looks a little bit different.
Moving, memorable and a mirror for every woman at a crossroads, OLIVE has a little bit of all of us. Told with great warmth and nostalgia, this is a modern tale about the obstacle course of adulthood, milestone decisions and the ‘taboo’ about choosing not to have children.
My rating: ☆☆☆☆
Thank you to the author, publisher and NetGalley for the ARC!
The book jumps between the past and present years of Olive’s life. I didn’t expect this format, but it made it so such much easier to get to know the characters. Although the entire story is told from Olive’s point of view, the reader gets to know her friends incredibly well. Like most friendship groups, every person plays a role. I really like how the author managed to keep each voice very unique but lifelike. No character bled into another, they all had a different tone which added to the authenticity of this tale.
I love that I can’t relate to the main character in any way, yet it’s so easy to empathise with her. Her personal battle isn’t something I’ve given much thought to, but it didn’t diminish how she felt to me. Olive is so human it was difficult not to feel for her. She isn’t perfect by any means. There are a lot of things she does that irritate me. But it was an understandable irritation, the same way you become irritated with yourself for mistakes and missteps. Olive has her good days and her bad, and I like that the author included both in her story. It made everything seem more down-to-earth.
Gannon’s writing is warm and compassionate, even as the characters in her book struggle with weighty issues. Motherhood is explored in a variety of ways through the characters, and no path feels less significant than the other. This book really forces you reflect and it’s a brilliant quality for a novel to have. As we see the group evolve, it subtly pushes the reader to examine their own choices and desires.
The only thing that stopped this novel being a five-star read was the length. Some chapters or moments didn’t feel necessary, and I was tempted to skim a few pages. I also appreciate that Olive was going through a very real struggle and felt alone, but her thoughts felts repetitive from time to time. There were a few times I felt like the character said the same things over and over.
I really enjoyed reading Olive. This debut novel explores a woman’s decision to live child-free, life after a break-up, female friendship, and navigating adulthood. And Emma Gannon’s original and honest voice made it a refreshingly pleasant read.
Eileen is sick of being 79.
Leena’s tired of life in her twenties.
Maybe it’s time they swapped places…
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 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.
Once Leena learns of Eileen’s romantic predicament, she proposes a solution: a two-month swap. Eileen can live in London and look for love. Meanwhile Leena will look after everything in rural Yorkshire. But with gossiping neighbours and difficult family dynamics to navigate up north, and trendy London flatmates and online dating to contend with in the city, stepping into one another’s shoes proves more difficult than either of them expected.
Leena learns that a long-distance relationship isn’t as romantic as she hoped it would be, and then there is the annoyingly perfect – and distractingly handsome – school teacher, who keeps showing up to outdo her efforts to impress the local villagers. Back in London, Eileen is a huge hit with her new neighbours, but is her perfect match nearer home than she first thought?
My rating: ☆☆☆☆
Check out my full review here!
The Switch is a wholesome, heart-warming and unbelievably charming story. It was delight to read, and reminded me exactly why I’m such a fan of Beth O’Leary’s voice.
I sincerely laughed out loud reading this book. The humour is well-timed and well-placed, never feeling gawky. It’s intelligent and occasionally subtle, which really contributes to the engaging dialogue between characters. O’Leary perfectly divided the two atmospheres. Yorkshire is Yorkshire and London is London. They run as different speeds, have different attitudes, and even a different air.
The secondary characters were a perfect addition to this book. From Leena’s roommates to the Eileen’s neighbours. They may not have the biggest parts but felt fundamental. In just a few short sentences, you could see the wonderfully reliable alliances Leena has with her friends in London. And the reader gets a sense of community spirit from the first Neighbourhood Watch meeting. I love the quirks the author gave each elderly character from Hamleigh-in-Harksdale. The village is small, but full of pride, and way too easy to the love.
While The Switch reads with a smooth levity, there’s always a layer of the depth that helps the story to reach the heart. Within the plot, the characters tackle grief, insecurity, depression and identity confusion. The author conveys emotion so truthfully, it’s difficult not to empathise with the struggle of the characters.
It may not be a story I’ll rush to reread, but I definitely don’t regret picking up this book. Beth O’Leary and her effortlessly refreshing writing has won me over again. With a picturesque English village, compelling characters, and comically charming wit, The Switch makes a gratifying summer read.
What have you been reading recently?