Monday, March 27, 2023

Book Review of "Beyond That, the Sea" by Laura Spence-Ash

Do you love historical fiction and coming-of-age stories? Looking for a unique new perspective in a familiar genre? Check out my review of  "Beyond That the Sea" by Laura Spence-Ash.

Monday, March 20, 2023

Book Review of "Hello Beautiful" by Ann Napolitano


Interested in stories about sisters and found families, with a dose of coming of age, oh and also how about some romance?! Looking for your next four or five star read? Keep reading this post to check out my review of Oprah Book Club's 100th book pick, "Hello Beautiful" by Ann Napolitano.


Hello Beautiful

by Ann Napolitano

goodreads // amazon // library

William Waters grew up in a house silenced by tragedy, where his parents could hardly bear to look at him, much less love him—so when he meets the spirited and ambitious Julia Padavano in his freshman year of college, it’s as if the world has lit up around him. With Julia comes her family, as she and her three sisters are inseparable: Sylvie, the family’s dreamer, is happiest with her nose in a book; Cecelia is a free-spirited artist; and Emeline patiently takes care of them all. With the Padavanos, William experiences a newfound contentment; every moment in their house is filled with loving chaos. But then darkness from William’s past surfaces, jeopardizing not only Julia’s carefully orchestrated plans for their future, but the sisters’ unshakeable devotion to one another. The result is a catastrophic family rift that changes their lives for generations. Will the loyalty that once rooted them be strong enough to draw them back together when it matters most? An exquisite homage to Louisa May Alcott’s timeless classic, Little Women, Hello Beautiful is a profoundly moving portrait of what is possible when we choose to love someone not in spite of who they are, but because of it. ( from  

Book Review and Discussion of
"Hello Beautiful" by Ann Napolitano


Ann Napolitano books are always my favorite Even though I actually read her last novel, "Dear Edward" three years ago, I feel like I read it just last month. The memories from the book and the emotions in it are still easy for me to connect with, which as a reader with a long list of books read, is an especially difficult accomplishment for an author! If you haven't read "Dear Edward" yet - do it because it is so, so good. I loved "Hello Beautiful" in a similar way and I'm sure I'll be thinking about this book for a while, wondering about the characters, and reflecting on all of the quotes I saved while reading. I can not wait to see what Napolitano writes next; she is absolutely one of my favorites!

Check out some of my favorite quotes from "Dear Edward" by the author of "Hello Beautiful", Ann Napolitano.

"Hello Beautiful" strikes so many different emotions I really feel like this novel has something for everyone. In part because it covers so many different characters and also stages of life. I really rooted for these characters and also felt incredibly sad with them. It was an emotional rollercoaster in the way only a really good book can be!

Characters to love and hate I can't wait for other readers to grab this book to see which characters they love and connect with the most. A common struggle for readers is finding a hateable character and then the novel is ruined for them by that character. I think my favorite character in "Hello Beautiful" was Alice. And my least favorite was definitely Julia, and I do not think I will be alone there. Reading that character's storyline will be an understandable challenge for some readers because a huge chunk of the book was from her perspective. Her story ultimately didn't bother me as a reader but it might bother other people.

Such a good book club choice Because this book hits so many different emotions and also raises so many interesting questions it would be an excellent book club pick. For example, most of the characters in this book take substantial risks in their lives and most of those risks are worth the reward, but others are less so. So many interesting conversations could be generated by looking at those risks, deciding if they were worth taking, and how they might play out off of the page. Any book with a hatable main character is also sure to generate lots of conversations and I felt like this book has that covered too.


Things I Struggled With

Repetitive A common criticism I saw checking out the Goodreads reviews, and one that I also agree with is that "Hello Beautiful" becomes repetitive. I think repetitive themes in novels are fine, I don't need a ton of action and prefer character-driven plots which can tend to show the same themes, but in actual character experiences it wears on me. Pretty much the entire book, the main characters are repeating the same emotional struggles just in a new place. Their thoughts about those problems and how they choose to solve them, or not solve them, don't change over the course of most of the novel and after 400 pages, it did become a bit frustrating. 

Frustrating characters If you are someone who gets frustrated with character choices and that puts you off when reading a book, this one might not be for you. For example, I really struggled with Julia's character because she just refused to grow emotionally, at least not in the way I would hope. By the end of the book, I was even more frustrated that she didn't understand why her poor choices would have negatively affected her daughter's ability to form relationships - definitely a "throw the book across the room" frustration moment for me. 


Related - There were so many beautiful quotes in "Hello Beautiful". Click the image below to see which quotes from "Hello Beautiful" by Ana Napolitano made my list!

Have you read "Hello Beautiful" by Ann Napolitano? Comment below and let me know what you thought of the novel! I'd love the hear if you found any of the characters especially frustrating or which of the plot lines you most connected with! If you haven't read it yet, share with me a book you recently read that you think would make for a great book club discussion. Thanks for reading, readers!

Thank you to the author and publisher for providing an early copy for review. Please know that as a "girl about the library" where books are always free, my opinions expressed in this post are truly my own.

Monday, March 6, 2023

Book Review of "The Circus Train" by Amita Parikh

Thinking about picking up January's Book of the Month pick "The Circus Train" by Amita Parikh? Keep reading to check out my thoughts on this World War II circus themed historical fiction novel!