Since clearly we’ll be spending our summers cooped up inside during this whole extended pandemic, we need to have an arsenal of activities at the ready to keep us busy. My solution is obviously to read a lot. Think, even if you can’t go or travel anywhere, then at least you can travel inside your books to imaginative lands and places.
This is the right memoir for any former sleepaway camper. Camp Girls captures the magic of sleepaway camp that any former camper or counselor will know all too well. As a former camper who spent eight summers in the Minnesota wilderness at a small all-girls sleepaway camp, I couldn’t stop grinning at the biography’s authenticity and Krasnow’s reasons why camp is so special to so many of us.
The memoir is told through the author’s own biographical memories, camper testimonials, and plenty of research, and Krasnow told a compelling tale about why camp matters to so many of us. I swear, with every chapter and new story introduced, I kept thinking back to my own wacky camp stories and friends! I just couldn’t stop smiling, laughing, or even crying. The book itself did feel quite short in terms of page length: I wanted more. I wanted it to trigger even more memories because camp was such a special place for me, and this book made me yearn to remember how far I’ve come and how camp has made me, well, me.
Enemies-to-lovers is my favorite romance trope because the romance feels justified and earned by the time the leads realize their feelings. This novel lives up to that and is 100 percent adorable. Totally squeal-worthy. I love how independent our protagonist Liya is and how cute Jay is as he’s head over heels in love with her, even when she tried to push him away. Seriously, I could feel my heart beating so loud during this sweeping, romantic, and cute story! In fact, I couldn’t stop reading this story even way past midnight; I just had to find out what happened next because their love story feels so real, authentic, and earned as these two people break past their boundaries to eventually find love and acceptance.
The book starts where headstrong engineer Liya walks out the door of a dinner party set up with an eligible bachelor whom her folks are trying to marry her off to. It’s a shock to both of them when Liya keeps spotting her one-time suitor around town, and it’s Jay. Jay has everything right on paper, but after Liya’s behavior during that first meeting he’s embarrassed and infuriated to see her. Although, that tension is too much to resist in this second chance love story.
Liya is realistic and a character that you can relate to, from seeing her break down and let him into her world and her heart, which was so moving to read. Also telling this story using diverse characters is a huge step for the genre in terms of representation and what we need more of: more perspectives and different people’s stories. The book is beyond cute by the end and I just need a sequel right now to see where their love story went. Completely precious.
No one should be surprised that a Sittenfeld novel earns five stars from me. After all, I still re-read Eligible a few times a year. Her newest novel reimagines Hillary Clinton’s life and political career stemming from one question, “What if she hadn’t married Bill Clinton?”
The fact that this compelling novel was based upon one of my feminist heroes and was authored by one of my favorite authors, I was initially drawn to this book. Then once I started it, I just couldn’t put it down until I finished it! The beginning feels a bit like Hillary Clinton’s biography, but that just proves how well researched it was on Sittenfeld’s part. Then, you get into her fictionalized portrayal of relationships, career What Ifs, and more.
It’s so cute, interesting, and feisty and fierce at the same time, I honestly couldn’t stop reading. Sittenfeld’s portrayal of Hillary is everything a young Miranda emulated and to see that woman can be strong and powerful without the help of a man was inspiring and just everything. Much like Eligible, I couldn’t put it down and yearned to finish it in a single sitting. (Mission accomplished on that front!) This book is like the empowering twist of history we’ve needed and yearned for since 2016 and I’m so glad to have read it.
Available: May 19
As a Girl Scout alumna, I was touched to pick up this true story about how the first Girl Scout troop out of a New York homeless shelter was started, as well as both the leaders’ and girls’ commitment to the core values of Scouts that made my heart swell. The nonfiction read also provided an in-depth look at the homelessness crisis in New York, amongst other cities, and shined a light on these kids and their lives and hopes. The book shows that despite all our differences, at the end of the day, everyone is an equal Girl Scout sister and it’s such an inspiring story that makes you as a reader want to do more to help.
The book depicts the growth and eventual popularity of this new troop as readers get an inside look at troop leader and founder Giselle Burgess, her family of five kids, and other Scouts and their families from the troop. New York Times journalist Nikita Stewart accurately told the life stories and dreams of these Scouts and their families for an authentic portrayal. It’s a remarkable story and I’m glad it was shared with the world.
Available: May 19
While it takes a minute to figure out the different chapter perspectives and get into the root of the story in the witty read, it soon evolves into a very interesting and compelling read. The chapters are quite lengthy, however, it reads quickly thanks to an engaging storytelling that you just want to keep reading to find out what happens next.
The book starts when a struggling Manhattan musician is hired to play music for a mommy-and-me playgroup amongst NYC’s elite residents. Musician Claire is soon pulled into these women’s oh-so-glamorous lives and dangerous secrets. They make up an Instagram-perfect clique: hostess with the most-ess Whitney is an aspiring influencer, recent SAHM Amara is struggling to adapt to her new role, and old-money Gwen is quick to dole out Mommy advice as a mom of two. Soon, spending time with these moms, Claire is thrust into their glamorous world and discovers unsettling truths that could tear the group apart for good.
In the book, the twist at the end in regards to one of the characters is wow, just so unexpected, like, huh she’s truly an evil genius with chutzpah. Doing all of the *this* for her babies and her families. The book keeps getting juicier with every secret out, which there is plenty, and I couldn’t stop reading until it was way past midnight and I finished the book.
Available: May 19
It’s a sweet women’s fiction novel, with clear callbacks to Jane Austen’s Persuasion. However, the three different perspectives came out of nowhere from the start, especially our protagonist Ashna’s mom’s POV. In contrast, The two characters of Ashna and Rico, you expect to be the different perspectives but not her mom, Shobi. It does help add to the story to make it way more than just a romance between a man and a woman, but also a relationship between mother and daughter. Shobi’s storyline is very, very different from Ashna and Rico’s the one who got away trope. It just caught me off guard at first. The different points of view are quite drastic flipping between one another, and without any chapter headers to help guide readers, and different timelines all over the place, it’s confusing when reading.
In the novel, chef Ashna Raje is desperately looking for a new way to save her family restaurant. Her plan becomes to win the “Cooking with the Stars,” a cooking show competition inspired by Dancing with the Stars. However, she certainly didn’t plan on hopeless cook and soccer star Rico Silva to be her partner, especially considering he was her [secret] first love. But, the viewers are obsessed with their flame-worthy chemistry and ok, fine, so am I.
The story is a complete slow burn, and by more than halfway, you’re still wondering where is the *big* moment or something. I feel like I’m just waiting and waiting for the big climax and something to happen. But the book is well written and intriguing and certainly drew me in, but maybe that’s because I just wanted more. The time jumps are unclear and abrupt, there needs to be a header or a different font or italics to signify a flashback from the present day. As is, without something, there’s an element of confusion. All in all, the story does put a diverse spin on a Jane Austen classic, which is great to see in today’s world. It’s cute that’s for sure, but that’s about it. I’d give it a modest three stars.
Available: May 26
This book feels just like the movie You’ve Got Mail, but with a modern twist using the realm of dating apps. This enemies-to-lovers tale follows two rival dating app ghostwriters (which I was shocked to learn is a real job!) in a completely predictable yet sugary-sweet romance. From the beginning, I could immediately tell where the plot and characters were headed, and it took forever to build and get there; almost too long. It’s a super cute read, but honestly, it’s nothing groundbreaking. Everything is expected.
In a Cyrano-type scenario, dating app ghostwriters Zoey and Miles (in back-and-forth perspectives) first only see each other as the jerk who hogs the best table at the coffee shop that they are both trying to work in. Soon, unbeknownst to the two them, they help ghostwrite and manage the dating app profiles of two clients interested in one another. Soon, Zoey and Miles (as their clients) find themselves bantering back and forth at all hours and turns out, they themselves have a bit of a love connection on their hands.
The sugary-sweet love story is a bit boring, and one I’ve seen play out again and again. I just wanted something new and more. But that being said, the end was equal parts adorable, steamy, and romantic. Hey, you gotta love a good enemies to lovers trope.
Available: May 26
This was an engaging, quick read from the get-go and one that gave me so much wanderlust to return to London and visit Scotland. At first, the dual viewpoints switching back and forth is a bit confusing without chapter headings, but other than that, their perspectives are quite obvious. Both Lissa and Cormac make compelling protagonists in their own right and I liked following their stories, quite compelling. Think “The Holiday” but with medicine, because that’s basically the setup here as we follow two simultaneous fish-out-of-water stories and slowly, very slowly, a friendship builds. But, the pacing and timing of everything feels completely honest and genuine and it worked.
After an on-the-job traumatic event, nurse practitioner Lissa is sent from her bustling London hospital into the small town of Kirrinfief in Scotland for a change of pace. She swaps jobs and houses with army veteran and fellow nurse practitioner Cormac as they adapt to new roles and cities. But, they have each other to confide in, well, through email. But once their work emails turn to daily, constant texts (and even exchanging drawings), it’s clear they both feel something different is on the horizon.
The novel is a love letter to small country life more than anything and I couldn’t stop smiling, for the most part. The end does feel quite abrupt like after finally meeting, after several near misses, they just jump into a kiss and a relationship. And for a relationship that was so slow, authentic, and cautious, this just feels a bit forced to make sure we cram a HEA in before the book ends. Also, I wasn’t the biggest fan of the epilogue and I’m not sure it was totally necessary in the first place. Sure, the part with the transplant family was so sweet, but other than that, nothing between Cormac and Lissa was resolved really, and that’s where I wanted to see the romance unfold in the epilogue, based on the book’s timing. Other than that, it was a very cute book that makes me want to head to the UK, like, right now.
Available: June 9
Advance reader copies of each book were provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.