Book Review: Newish Releases

What have you been reading lately? There has been a burst of titles released that I have been eager to get my hands on…let’s see how they stacked up!


1. The Bookseller by Cynthia Swanson

This debut novel got a lot early buzz, and after reading it, I can see why. Kitty is a single woman living in 1962 who co-owns a bookshop and lives a quiet life of books, her best friends, and her cat. So when she begins having entirely-too-realistic dreams, it rocks her to her core. In the dream, she is married with children, living an idyllic life very different from the one she knows. As the novel continues, everything becomes more real, perspectives shift, and Kitty is torn in two. This novel was really quick to read, engrossing, and would appeal to any lover of women’s fiction. I wasn’t sure what ending I was rooting for, but I found the one I was given compelling and thought provoking. Highly recommended!

2. My Sunshine Away by M. O. Walsh

In the summer of 1989, our unnamed narrator finds his childhood shattered – his longtime crush is attacked in their sleepy Baton Rouge neighborhood. This indelibly Southern novel is at once dark and brooding and yet tender and amusing. Full of unforgettable characters – including our mysterious narrator – this novel isn’t action packed, but rather driven by the characters over the course of years, rather than days. This novel has been heaped with praise, and rightfully so. For fans of that elusive mix of literary and popular fiction, I would recommend this title!

3. The Half Brother by Holly LeCraw

Take a typical love triangle, turn it on its head, and set it at a New England boarding school, and you have this novel. This is definitely literary fiction: lyrical and densely written, with lots of introspection and little dialogue, this delves more into relationships and what’s expected than into being action-packed. I loved the setting, and the prose was well-written, but at times I struggled with the pace of this novel. I’m glad I read it, though…

I also just finished Gorge by Kara Richardson Whitely, which was an interesting memoir. Kara climbed Kilimanjaro after losing 120 pounds. After gaining it back, and more, she tried again…and failed. This memoir is about her third attempt to summit Kilimanjaro…while not being a size 2. Though at times her internal dialogue was repetitive, the overall honesty and theme of the memoir really spoke to me, and Kara really told the reader about the struggles, the views, and the friendships forged on the trail. Not for everyone, but as a “big gal” myself, I enjoyed the hopeful tone of the story!

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