CONTEMPORARY & ELIN HILDERBRAND READS: August & September Mini Reviews 

One last semi-August mini review round up! Today, I’m going to be sharing mini reviews a few more books that I read towards the end of August and the first few of my September reads. This is my first week at work and while I am really excited about my job (I’m teaching middle school English) & like being back in a work routine, I am definitely going to miss my summer days spent reading, especially since I know that I won’t be reading as much in September as I did in August. As was the theme of my summer reading, today I have a few contemporary fiction reads and yes, 4 Elin Hilderbrand books, to recap. 

Seven Days in June by Tia Williams – Seven Days in June is THE romance book that has taken over my bookish feeds over the past few months. I knew the book featured two Black protagonists, but I didn’t know much else going into it. A few book recommendation sources have recommended this one if you’re in a book hangover after reading Robinne Lee’s The Idea of You, and while I think fans of that book will still enjoy Seven Days in June, Seven Days in June has much more serious and darker tone (and doesn’t have the whole older woman dating a younger celebrity synopsis). Seven Days in June follows two famous Black authors, Eva & Shane, who are both connected by their past in high school (warnings for drug and alcohol abuse and self harm). I really liked Tia William’s writing style and the writing plot lines surround Eva and Shane’s careers. Eva also has an autoimmune disorder that largely affects her lifestyle, which was overall something I haven’t read in a book before. My Rating: 4/5 Stars 

The Rehearsals by Annette Christie – Everyone knows that I’m up for any book about weddings, which led me to Annette Christie’s debut, The Rehearsals. This contemporary read follows college sweethearts Megan and Tom & their disastrous rehearsal dinner before their wedding. After a mega fight, Megan and Tom wake up on the morning of their wedding, only to become stuck in a Groundhog Day-type loop where they repeat the day of the rehearsal dinner again. The time-loop premise totally worked for me in this one, having loved exploring the what-ifs in Tom and Megan’s relationship and their relationship development through the repeated days. I totally admit that I have a love-hate relationship with the ending. I wanted more closure but also I sometimes like a what’s next kind of ending (trying to avoid spoilers). My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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FAVORITE ELIN HILDERBRAND BOOK: The Blue Bistro Review

8377676Summary (from the publisher): Adrienne Dealey has spent the past six years working for hotels in exotic resort towns. This summer she has decided to make Nantucket home. Left flat broke by her ex-boyfriend, she is desperate to earn some fast money. When the desirable Thatcher Smith, owner of Nantucket’s hottest restaurant, is the only one to offer her a job, she wonders if she can get by with no restaurant experience. Thatcher gives Adrienne a crash course in the business…and they share an instant attraction. But there is a mystery about their situation: what is it about Fiona, the Blue Bistro’s chef, that captures Thatcher’s attention again and again? And why does such a successful restaurant seem to be in its final season before closing its doors for good? Despite her uncertainty, Adrienne must decide whether to open her heart for the first time, or move on, as she always does.

My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts: 

You probably know that I’ve been on an Elin Hilderbrand kick in 2021. It’s my reading goal over the next few years to read her entire backlist – I say a few years only because I feel like I’ll save her books for summer since they are the PERFECT summertime reads for their ‘summer on Nantucket’ setting (although I do plan on reading her Paradise and Winter series later this year) and she will be only publishing three more Nantucket books before her retirement. I read this recent article about her retirement and it kind’ve made me hopeful that we might still get more books from her, just not one every year or necessarily set on Nantucket? 

Elin Hilderbrand fangirling set aside, while I’ve read 11 of her books so far (I’m hoping to get at least two more this month), The Blue Bistro is by far my favorite out of all her books, with 28 Summers and Summer of ’69 at the #2 and 3 spots. The book follows Adrienne, who has spent most of her twenties working in hotels across the world and after another not-so great break-up, finds herself on Nantucket for the summer. Almost as soon as she arrives, Adrienne receives a job offer from a man named Thatcher, the co-owner of Nantucket’s best restaurant that will be closing its doors at the end of summer. Adrienne soon finds herself caught up in life at The Blue Bistro, a relationship with Thatcher, and figuring out the mystery behind the restaurant’s chef, Fiona, and the reason why The Blue Bistro will close at summer’s end. 

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Beach Reads + Contemporary Romance: July Review Roundup 

You likely know that summer is my biggest reading season, in part that if I’m spending the day in the pool or on the beach, I have a book (or two) with me, & that I am fortunate enough to enjoy some extra time off in the summer as a teacher. I’m definitely doing the most amount of reading than I have ever done before in the summer, averaging anywhere between 4-6 books a week. I mentioned in my 10+ book mini review round up back in June that because I’m reading so much, I haven’t been necessarily writing full reviews for every single book I read & I’ve been enjoying the shorter length mini review format where I maybe don’t write as much in my traditional mini review posts and share more books that I’ve read. I have a few full length reviews planned for the next few weeks, but I definitely have a feeling I’ll be sharing another similar round-up in July! Today I’ll be sharing mini reviews forYA and adult contemporary books (including some romances of course) & a few beach reads from Elin Hilderbrand. 

The Secret Bridesmaid by Katy Birchall – I LOVED The Secret Bridesmaid. This British contemporary following a woman whose hired by brides to be a bridesmaid/undercover wedding planner and is recommended to serve in a royal wedding for a diva of a bride was SO good. It was the perfect blend of self-growth, relationship development (including friendship & romance), and having such a fun story. If you’re a fan of books with some sort of wedding storyline, check this one out! My Rating: 5/5 Stars 

If I Never Met You by Mhairi McFarlane – My local county library branch is closed for at least the first half of July, so I’ve been visiting another local branch and I’ve loved getting to find books that my local library doesn’t have, including so many books from Mhairi McFarlane! She’s a go-to British contemporary romance author from some of my most trusted book rec sources, so I started with what feels like her most recommended book, If I Never Met You. The book uses the fake dating trope, as lawyer Laurie agrees to fake date her co-worker after her long-time boyfriend and also fellow colleague breaks up with her. I liked that the book begins with Laurie’s relationship with her ex and we see the break-up happen and unravel instead of jumping right into the fake-dating. This was overall a fun read and I’m looking forward to checking out more of her books. My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

Heart & Seoul by Jen Federick – I was running on the reading rush that was Axie Oh’s upcoming XOXO (review coming to the blog on Monday!) That made me want to read another book set in South Korea, leading me to Jen Frederick’s Heart & Seoul. This contemporary romance (although I think it does read more as a women’s fiction/contemporary drama) follows Hara, a Korean adoptee who decides to go to Seoul for the first time to learn more about her birth parents. I liked that the book balanced so many elements and wasn’t all about the romance or Hara’s adoption/birth story. The book puts way more focus on family than the romance, although I did like the relationship. I’ve read a few books with Korea as the setting, but this book gave such an interesting perspective on the lifestyle and customs there. I was kind’ve mixed on the ending, in the sense that I thought it would’ve been a unique ending for a contemporary romance while also wanting MORE and I was happy to find out that there will be a book #2, Soulmates, in January 2022. My Rating: 4/5 Stars

Silver Girl by Elin Hilderbrand – I’m on a slight & unexpected mission to read as many Elin Hilderbrand book as possible this year. Elin was recently interviewed on Bad on Paper Podcast, and Silver Girl came up in their conversation. I was a bit hesitant going into this one because I wasn’t super intrigued by the synopsis, as the book follows Meredith’s downfall due to her husband’s Ponzi scheme and hiding from the media with her former best friend in Nantucket for the summer. However, I became so much more addicted to this story than expected, having actually loved the focus on friendship and how the story intertwined the past & present. My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

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ADD THESE SUMMER READS: May 2021 Mini Reviews

I’ve been in such a great reading mood lately! I’ve been able to read 1-2 books during the week & then another book or two on the weekends. We’ve been having a few sunny Saturdays and Sundays, which means spending the day outside reading in my backyard. If you’re already preparing your summer TBR like I am, make sure you check out these 4 contemporary books below.

Summer of ’69 by Elin Hilderbrand 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars

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Two weekends ago on a sunny Saturday, I was craving a book that I could binge-read while sitting outside all day, which meant it was time to pick up another Elin Hilderbrand book! After loving 28 Summers back in March, I decided to pick up another one of her more recent releases, Summer of ’69. Set in, you guessed it, the summer of 1969, the book follows three daughters and their mother’s summer on Nantucket and Martha Vineyard while their brother & son has been recently deployed to Vietnam. 

I love books that place over the summer and follow the daily happenings of the main characters. Summer of ’69 exactly fits that premise, with a few secrets and minor scandals along the way. I totally admit that I was a little hesitant going into the 1960s setting, but it was so interesting getting transported to the days of the space race and the Vietnam War. There’s also commentary on women’s roles and race, between Blair’s husband’s desire for Blair to stay home & raise their family and Kirby’s relationship with a young black man. I really like Elin Hilderbrand’s books because she’s able to handle so many plot lines and conflicts while also keeping the writing style quick and easy to fly through -aka the perfect beach read. I definitely liked reading from the daughters, Blair, Kirby, and Jessie’s perspectives, more than their mother, who was a bit on the melodramatic side, but I overall loved this book!

I am SO going to read more Elin Hilderbrand books this summer – I think she’s going to be one of my go-tos when I want a book-in-a-day beach or pool read. I immediately put Elin Hilderbrand’s June release, Golden Girl, on hold after I finished reading Summer of ’69

Anna K: Away (Anna K #2) by Jenny Lee 

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

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Let it be know already that I love anything having to do with Anna K because I absolutely  LOVED Anna K: Away. The sequel to Jenny Lee’s 2020 release, Anna K, the book picks up during the summer after the events of book #1, in which Anna K & co. are grieving over the loss of Anna K’s beloved (trying to avoid spoilers, but if you’ve read Anna Karenina, you can probably figure out who I’m talking about). Anna K is whisked off to Korea, Dustin, Steve, and Lolly are dealing with their own relationship troubles in NYC, and Bea is off to California for a change of pace of her own.

I just love everything about Anna K: Away so much, from Jenny Lee’s writing style to the glamour and drama of these teens’ world. Yes, it is super extravagant and probably unrealistic, but this book is the absolute perfect kind of escape. I loved all of the settings, from California to the Hamptons to South Korea. I think Anna K’s storyline was particularly my favorite because I loved the K-pop and paparazzi storyline while Anna K deals with loss and figuring out her next steps. I really like Bea as a character so it was fun following her storyline, and Lolly and Steve’s relationship always made for some fun drama. I read Anna K: Away nearly a year after reading book #1 and don’t think you necessarily need a reread to get invested in this sequel. You definitely need to read book #1 before book #2 — and should just read this series regardless because it is such a refreshing and mature take on Gossip Girl-esque YA contemporary. 

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RECENT CONTEMPORARY & NON-FICTION READS: March 2021 Mini Reviews 

During March so far, I just have been in the mood to READ. Things have been pretty busy when it comes to grad school and my personal life right now, so whenever I do have some down time, I have been turning to books the most (and my rewatch of Sex & the City on HBO Max). Today’s three mini reviews are all books that I finished reading last week. I ate up the two contemporaries in a matter of days, while I finally finished up my non-fiction pick for the month – blame it on A Court of Silver Flames and my need for some lighter reads for distracting me from finishing it sooner.

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand

My Rating: 4.5/5 Stars 

You likely know that I tend to save any book having to do with summer for late spring and summer time in order to embrace the season. But let’s be honest, I’m always ready for a read featuring my favorite season. Elin Hilderbrand is such a classic summer reading author, so I was excited to check out her much loved 28 Summers. I actually didn’t feel too guilty picking up this beach read in March because the book takes place throughout the year. 28 Summers follows love interests Mallory and Jake, who spend Labor Day Weekend with one another every year since the 1990s, no matter where they are or their relationship status. Ever since she inherited her aunt’s cottage on Nantucket in her twenties, Mallory has always called Nantucket home and longs for her annual weekend with Jake. Jake’s own relationship status with his childhood sweetheart has taken him all over the place in life, but like Mallory, always drops whatever he is doing for their weekend. 

I know it may be difficult for some readers to set aside their feelings about Mallory and Jake’s annual affair – trust me, I had SO many moments while reading this where I just wanted to scream at the two to just be together full time – but my biggest piece of advice is to just enjoy the ride at face-value. This is the PERFECT book to fly through in one sitting on the couch on a chillier day or at the beach this year. I purely am giving it a high star rating because I loved the reading experience of setting down almost everything to just read. I absolutely loved the way the story unfolded, as Elin Hilderband first brings readers to present day 2020 and then transports back in time to the start of Mallory and Jake’s relationship in 1992. Don’t be alarmed by the title of the book as well, since while most of the chapters recap Mallory and Jake’s long weekend, they also explore their lives throughout the year. Most of the book actually doesn’t recap their weekends together, but the time spent apart. I really loved following Mallory’s small-town life living on Nantucket and teaching at the local high school while following her relationship endeavors with Jake and other men. There was something just so wholesome about her personality and life. In short, if you’re any kind of contemporary fan, READ THIS ONE. Read More »