REVIEW – The Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver

This book was a rollercoaster of emotions for me, but not in the way you’d think. It started off heartbreaking and lovely. There were a few moments, even in the midst of Lydia’s grief, where she had a sense of humor and made me chuckle. The good? Lydia’s grief felt realistic. It didn’t feel forced or too over the top (or that she “got over it” too quickly). It was easy to put myself in her place and imagine that i’d think and do some of the same things.

The parallel timeline is gut-wrenching – at first. I felt so bad for Lydia, and how she felt torn between two worlds. But some things just aren’t right…and it almost felt like it could have been too easy for Lydia to choose one world over the other. I did feel that this was a bit long – there were moments that seemed repetitive.

This would have been a four-star read for me if not for that ending! It felt cliche and just…that Lydia deserved…well, maybe not “better” but something a little less obvious.

REVIEW – In Five Years by Rebecca Serle

In Five Years is getting a LOT of hype right now, and I can see why. Dannie is a very organized, very detail-oriented lawyer in NYC. When she nails the most important interview of her career (and gets engaged the same day!) she ends up falling asleep and wakes with a jolt – five years into the future. She’s in an unfamiliar bed with a man she’s never met. There’s an engagement ring on her finger, and it’s not the one she just said “yes!” to. Back in the present, Dannie’s “vision” hangs over her head as she navigates her way through her new job and engagement.

Four and a half years later, Dannie meets the mystery man from her dream. Life unravels from there, and what follows is a heartbreaking love story (but not one that you’d expect).

This book gets heavy – FAST. I knew something sad was probably coming, but had no idea what. The main foundation of this story is a strong female friendship, and the romantic components take a backseat (as they should in this instance).

This is a tearjerker for many (although it didn’t make me cry – not many books make me cry…) and I can see it showing up on some “Best of…” lists at the end of the year.

REVIEW – Have You Seen Me? by Kate White

This has such a great premise – Ally shows up at work one morning, only to be told she hasn’t been employed there for five years. She spends the entire book piecing together the bits of her lost memory. There’s a cold case from her childhood that plays a role here, and overall I was interested to see where the story ended up.

However…it didn’t really end up anywhere. Do we figure out where she was? Yes. Do we find out what triggered her memory loss? Also, yes. (I don’t see these as spoilers, as it’s pretty much explained in the synopsis.) However, the tone of the book shifts in the last 100 or so pages and I found myself going “seriously?” during a few parts.

I think there’s an audience for this book – those who are new to the thriller genre or those who want to read a thriller without too much complexity or gore.

Thank you Harper/Harper Perennial for sending me a copy of this book!

REVIEW – Meg & Jo by Virginia Kantra

“This was love. Not holding back, not keeping score, but doing things for each other. Giving to each other. Not out of obligation, but generously, because it was a joy to offer.”

Little Women is one of my favorite books, and i’ve recently re-immersed myself in the story. I re-read the classic in December, before seeing the (amazing, perfect, flawless) movie in theaters. When I heard about this contemporary retelling, I knew I had to pick it up.

Meg & Jo offers a few modern twists on classic moments, and they work for the most part. It doesn’t quite have the coziness that you get from reading Little Women, but I think that’s just a symptom of the modern-day setting. On the bright side, the setting offers a relatability that the original lacks.

“Too bookish, too stubborn, too ambitious, too competitive.”

I found Jo’s story to be a bit more interesting, but isn’t that always the case? Meg has chosen the “typical” path – marriage, babies, etc. – which is exactly what works well for her. I think many of us felt we were a “Jo” when we read the original book, and I think parts of her personality are even more relatable in this retelling.

I did not expect this book to be so adult (a pleasant surprise)! There are some steamy scenes, but nothing too descriptive or explicit if that’s a concern of yours. It’s relatively tame compared to other books out there.

What did I love? CHEF. Oh, Chef. My favorite character in this book and a great spin on the character he mirrors in the original.

And a warning: there is going to be a character in this book that you’ll probably hate. You’ll hate them for good reason. I felt a little conflicted about their storyline at first, but giving the modern setting and the surrounding narrative, it does make sense.

I did feel like Beth and Amy were missing from the story, but their stories are forthcoming from what I understand.

Will this be as beloved as the original? Of course not. But it’s a nice little supplement for fans of Little Women who find themselves wanting to spend more time with the March sisters.

REVIEW – When You Read This by Mary Adkins

“This whole time I thought my real life hadn’t started yet. Turns out that was my life. I have six months or so to make that okay, somehow.”

Oh, this book. I was intrigued by the premise initially, but I loved this book so much more than I would have anticipated. We follow our three main characters – Iris (recently deceased), her boss Smith and her sister Jade – through a series of emails, text messages and blog posts. The format of this novel made it a very quick and easy read – I flew through the majority of this book in a matter of a few hours.

“We are not special. We do not survive death. We only think we are, and do.”

This is an amazing portrayal of grief, presented in snippets. Smith is grieving the loss of his friend and coworker. Jade is grieving the loss of her sister. And through Iris’ blog posts, we witness her grieving the loss of “what could have been.” It’s sad and it’s funny (like, laugh out loud funny). It’s cliche to say “I laughed, I cried,” but, truly…I laughed. I cried. There are a few notable side characters, like Carl (you’ll hate him, then you’ll kind of love him).

“‘We die as we lived,’ some guy wrote. But how did I live?”

Thank you Harper Books/Harper Perennial for sending me a finished paperback copy of this book!

REVIEW – After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid

“Isn’t it nice, once you’ve outgrown the idea of what life should be and you just enjoy what it is?”

This book is…fine. TJR is great at writing page-turning books (I read this over the course of one day).

There’s a lot of profound advice and thought-provoking points throughout the story. But there are also some predictable and sugary sweet moments (which is probably great for fans of contemporary romance, but it’s not my usual genre so take my opinion with a grain of salt!)

Like her other books I’ve read, TJR is also great at writing stories that would translate well on screen. After I Do would likely be a popular movie if it were ever adapted.