Sunday, May 1, 2022

Mini Book Reviews: April 2022

Disclaimer: I received a PRC of An Island from NetGalley and the publisher in exchange for my review. As a member of Brooks Run Happy Team, I received a copy of Running with Purpose from Brooks Running. This post contains affiliate links.

I was fortunate this month to have a variety of different books! My hands-down favorite--which will probably be my favorite book of the year--was Lessons in Chemistry. Quirky, clever, and creative, I loved that the main character was a strong woman trying to make it in the very male-dominated science world. It was hard to start the next book--I just wanted to savor it and stay in her world. Has that ever happened to you with a book?

An aging lighthouse keeper finds bodies that wash onshore all the time. He usually buries them. The latest arrival appears to be breathing, so he leaves him be. When he wakes up, he takes the man back to his cottage to feed him. They don't speak the same language and the arrival of this stranger unearths memories of the lighthouse keeper's troubled past and paranoia. Most likely the stranger is a refugee from a boat but is he a criminal who intends to take over the island? The narrative alternates between the past and the present. An Island is a short novel and the prose is sparse but gorgeous. It is amazing how much can be expressed to the reader in so few words.  This title will be released on May 17. 

Separation Anxiety is a quirky story about a middle-aged woman who is feeling the pain of watching her child separating from her as he grows up. Separated from her husband but still living with him gives her more angst. And her best friend, who has always been her support person, is dying of cancer. She begins purging the house of items accumulated over the years. When she finds a baby sling, she begins wearing it with the family dog inside! Naturally, she becomes the object of ridicule everywhere she goes. This could have really been a downer, but the author handles it with moments of laugh-out-loud humor. I like reading books about imperfect people and their foibles--this was a heartwarming, fun read. By the way, I recently saw a woman at the airport wearing a dog in a sling. Do you think she read this book or is this becoming a thing?

This is the best book I've read in a very long time! Lessons in Chemistry is a smart, fun read set in the early 1960's about a bright young woman who loves chemistry and wants to do research in a lab and earn her PhD. She's clearly ahead of her time and the world of science is controlled by men. Her efforts to succeed are humorous and horrifying. During her quest, she meets and falls in love with her soulmate, a Nobel prize-winning chemistry nerd. He doesn't mind her ambition nor her lack of a filter, instead convincing her to join his rowing crew. Life throws some unpleasant twists her way, yet she plows ahead, making her way in the world. This book made me laugh out loud so many times. The story is full of interesting characters and the writing is impeccable. I hated for it to come to an end. I cannot think of a more perfect book. Love, love, love!

Sister Stardust is the story of a young woman who moves to London in the 1960s and befriends a famous model and actress. When the actress travels to Morocco with her wealthy husband, she takes the young woman with her. A kind of coming of age story, the young woman is plunged into a world of celebrity, hedonism, and drugs. Based on the life story of Talitha Getty, who was married to J. Paul Getty, there is a lot of name-dropping in the book. Over time, the partying and excess spiral out of control. I grew up in the 60s and 70s, so books about this era always intrigue me. I wasn't disappointed! It starts out slow in the beginning, but once they travel to Morocco, I couldn't put it down. 

The Soulmate Equation was a fun, if not somewhat formulaic romance novel. Best friends, working at a coffee shop, see another regular, a darkly handsome man. One of the women approaches him and learns that he's a scientist, developing a matchmaking tool using DNA obtained from saliva. The ladies spontaneously drive to the company headquarters, get a tour, and submit samples for the test. Meanwhile, one of the women, walking to the restroom, hears Mr Darkly Handsome call her 'ordinary' to one of his colleagues. Burn! I won't ruin the rest of the book for you, but you can fill in the blanks. Definitely one of the more entertaining romance novels I've read. But I have to ask: why do people 'growl' at each other in these books?

Running with Purpose: How Brooks Outpaced Goliath Competitors to Lead the Pack tells the story of how this insightful CEO propelled Brooks Shoes to its position as the number 2 running company in the world. Great read! You can read my full review here.

A young woman travels to Paris to visit her brother, only to find that he is missing. None of the other residents in his apartment building seem to know anything about him. She begins to do her own investigation, uncovering all kinds of secrets about the mysterious building and the people who live there. In the author's notes, Lucy Foley comments that this was the hardest book she's written. I could feel that struggle as I read this rather convoluted story. None of the characters were likable except for Jess, the main character, and maybe Theo, the guy who helps her. There wasn't much of an element of suspense either as Jess does her own clumsy investigating. The Paris Apartment wasn't a bad book--after all, I stuck with it--but you could probably skip it.

I had hoped to finish up Memphis in time for this recap, but you'll have to wait until next month for that one. you follow me on Goodreads? I'll post my recap there when I'm finished. 

Have you read any of these books? What are you reading currently? 

Fortunately, this isn't a problem for me.
I just need more time for more books!


  1. I really enjoyed Lessons in Chemistry, too, although I wasn't prepared for the couple of slightly grim scenes. So well done and wish-fulfilling and cheering overall though! My review's out this week.

    1. I can't wait to check out your take on it. Maybe being so science oriented made me love it so much?

  2. Wow, that is quite a glowing review for Lessons in Chemistry! You convinced me, and I just place a library hold on it. These all sound good- other than the Lucy Foley. I'll definitely skip that one.

    1. Tell me what you think!!! I just loved the writing and the main character. Very quirky.

  3. I read The Guest List by Lucy Foley which was quite good. What a shame she couldn't follow up with The Paris Apartment book (which apparently is a New York Times bestseller).

    Thanks for the Lessons in Chemistry review!! Will definitely read that one. So glad you're filtering out all the good reads for us!

  4. Well how can I not read Lessons in Chemistry after that review ;) My "to read" list is getting longer and longer thanks to you - thanks for sharing!

  5. I liked paris apartment but it did drag on a bit. Lessons in Chemistry sounds like a great summer book. Thanks for the recs

  6. I have to agree with you about Lessons in Chemistry. This is by far the best book I have read in a very long time. I can't remember when I enjoyed a book so completely. Thank you so much for bringing it to my attention.