Reviews: Long Story Short, It Was a Good Time!

Hello everybody! Today, I have another review post for you, this time with all the books having some sort of link to reading or writing or both, which is something I always really enjoy in a book. Onto the post!

Talk Bookish to Me by Kate Bromley

This has been one I’ve wanted to pick up for a while, so I made it my “let’s read a romance book and convince myself real love exists” book to try and stave off my inevitable February blues. It’s a second chance romance focusing on Ryan and Kara, who dated in college and are now reunited years later when they end up in the same wedding party completely unexpectedly. I found the lovers to enemies to lovers again vibe very fun, and I did find a lot of the romance very sweet, especially because delightful Duke the dog plays such a big part in things! The story within a story was actually really fun too. While I do want to add the caveat that I didn’t necessarily agree with some of the choices the characters made (ie I don’t think I’d have taken Ryan back, personally, Kara is more forgiving than I am!), I thought this was a super fun, feelgood read and it gave me all the warm fuzzies I was looking for. I’m very much looking forward to reading the author’s next book as well, it sounds so fun and I think it’s set in a theatre!

The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams by Mindy Thompson

Everything that has said this is perfect for people who love Pages and Co is absolutely correct, but I’d also say that you’d very likely enjoy it if you’re a fan of Julie Abe’s wonderful Eva Evergreen books. It’s about a girl named Poppy who lives in 1940s New York, in an incredible magical bookshop that allows people from all different times and places to visit if they need its magic, which is a concept I just LOVED. Then her older brother’s best friend dies in the war and his desire to use the shop’s magic to save him endangers not just Rhyme and Reason, but all those who love it. The magic and the world of this was so interesting and it made me desperate to be able to visit one of the magical bookshops, and wishing I could become a Shopkeeper with a special bond to one even more. I also really enjoyed the American perspective on world war 2, because I can’t remember ever having read a book on that before and I love learning new things about this period of history. Poppy’s deep, undying love for her family and her bookshop and the conflict that creates made this a real page turner for me, and her (mostly epistolary) friendship with Theo was a lovely part of the story, as was the bookshop setting, which meant there was just the right balance between darkness and light. This is such a strong, creative debut and I’m really interested to see what the author brings out next, as I can’t find any details online so far.

Room to Dream by Kelly Yang

This is the third and final book in the fantastic Front Desk series, and while I’m sad this is the last we’ll see of Mia and the Calivista motel, I thought it was a really nice ending to the series. It sees Mia and her family travel back to China for a period of time, and then when they get home she is once again having to save the Calivista, which is being threatened by a chain motel company this time. The reason this book is in this post, as it isn’t entirely obvious, is because Mia dreams of being a writer, and in this book she gets her own column in a magazine designed to help Chinese students learn English. I liked the focus on journalistic integrity that feels very much relevant today given we’re in the era of “fake news” etc, and Mia learns a lot about this and herself and what she wants through writing. I love the conversations about complicated friendship, consent, capitalism and racism, both overt and covert. These are wonderful books that cover so many difficult topics and it makes me unbelievably angry that they’re being banned in some schools and states in America. I think they have so much to say, and they’re also just incredibly enjoyable reads with loveable characters and a lovely message.

The Book Smugglers by Anna James and illustrated by Marco Guadalupi

This is the 4th book in the Pages and Co series, which I’ve been reading since 2018, and it takes the series in a new direction, as this one predominantly follows Milo, the nephew of the magical Sequipedalian’s driver, who we met alongside his uncle in the previous book. And no shade to Tilly or Oskar because I do adore them, but this was undoubtedly my favourite of the series to date. Milo is such a sweetheart of a character and my heart broke for him sometimes because he is just so lonely and doesn’t feel loved, but I also loved seeing him gain confidence and learn more about his (undeniably intriguing!!)/what happened to to parents. I’m also very interested in this new plotline with the Alchemist and the Botanist, and the expansion of the world that this is allowing to happen. I loved the book wandering into the Wizard of Oz, especially as it pokes gentle fun at the differences between the book and the film, and also the Railway Children because I have read and loved that. And the comfort characters coming to help at a pivotal moment made me cry because it just felt so authentic and I wish my comfort children could have been with me in presence at some points in my life, even though they’ve always been with me in my head. This felt like such an amazing bridge between the first three books and the new arc and direction of the series, and I am extremely excited to read the Treehouse Library once it’s out!

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett

I’ve said it before when I’ve talked about the Appeal and I’ll just get it out of the way at the start of this review, Janice Hallett is a genius and there aren’t enough superlatives in the dictionary for me to explain to you how great I think her writing is. The format in this one is again quite unusual as this time we are reading transcripts of voice recordings found on the phone involved in a missing persons case. These were recorded by recently released ex-con Steve Smith, who is trying to work out why his remedial English teacher vanished years before, and ends up trying to crack the Twyford Code, which was allegedly left by the disgraced children’s author based on Enid Blyton in her works. The style takes a little bit of getting used to but I think it really adds to the overall feel of the story and gives you such an insight into Steve as a character, which is great as he’s had this fascinating life and he’s honestly really quite funny but also kind of tragic and I feel like I got to know him so well. My favourite thing though, is how well Janice writes mysteries. There were times I thought I had a clue what was going on, and I was absolutely off base and had no clue, and there was actually one particular twist I’m RAGING I got tricked by (mostly because I should have known better after the Appeal!!!) and this is just such an incredible exciting, twisty, thrilling mystery that kept me guessing and staying up later than I really should have and making me gasp like someone who’s never read a mystery book before. And I am already SO excited for Janice’s next book, especially as it’s returning to the email format used in the Appeal and the little extract in my Waterstones exclusive of this was unbelievably intriguing.

The Last Library by Freya Sampson

I had expected to like this, but when I picked it up, it just absolutely captured me in that really special way I wanted it to, and it was such a great companion for a day where I was feeling particularly rubbish and ill. It’s the story of a young library assistant named June, who becomes involved in a campaign to try and save the library she works in from being closed down. I think libraries are absolutely vital, I actually borrowed this book from mine, and they are such wonderful places that help so many people and provide a safe space when you really need one. The ragtag bunch who form FOCL (the jokes about the pronunciation of this made me laugh more than I care to admit, by the way!) are just the most excellent people- June is shy and still grieving, and seeing her come back to life is so moving, especially. Her relationships with Stanley and Alex made me cry at multiple points because they felt so real and so special and I just loved them. Mrs B made me laugh ALL THE TIME, and Marjorie was a very complex lady that I wasn’t always sure what to make of her, but I think she has a good heart deep down. The ending felt very realistic and not tied up in a neat bow, but was also very satisfying and comforting in that I felt like the characters were going to be just fine after I said goodbye to them.

The Burglar’s Ball by Julia Golding (recieved a copy from the publisher in exchange for my honest review)

The second in this series of middle grade mysteries sees a young Jane Austen go back to her old school with her sister Cassandra, to attend a ball, and then someone’s diamond necklace is stolen and Jane sets out to investigate. I think Jane is such a wonderful character, and while I haven’t actually read anything by her, I do find her very interesting and I love this portrayal of her as a young person, who wants to create a better world and make life fairer for minority groups. On a similar note, I think all the in jokes and stuff to do with Jane Austen’s works are really fun, even though I probably didn’t quite catch all of them. New characters Marianne and Brandon were great additions, and it was lovely to see Deepti from the previous book as well. And Grandison the dog is wonderful, of course!! The solution to the mystery was very fun and not what I’d expected, and it all came together really well, so it was definitely a satisfying read. I’m hoping there will be at least a couple more books in this series, especially as I’d like one inspired by Pride and Prejudice!

Property of the Rebel Librarian by Allison Varnes

I bought this either just before or just after my spine surgery, which is to say it’s been my TBR for quite a while, but when I was thinking about doing this themed post it was just a natural choice and it also felt very timely given the current spate of book banning happening in the United States. It’s about a girl named June (that’s two in the same post, how fun!!l whose life changes completely after her very strict parents discover she’s been borrowing books they deem inappropriate from her school library, and everything she loves is suddenly taken away. Then she finds a little free library on her walking route, and she starts up a contraband library for her classmates. First of all, this has one of my favourite opening lines I can remember, because it just sets up the tone of the book and endears you to June’s narrative in the most perfect way. On that note, I obviously just adored June- she felt very relatable and I loved the humour of the narration, and her budding romance is just the sweetest thing. Matt was a lovely character too, as was super cool girl Abby, and I obviously loved her librarian and her ethos towards putting books children need into their hands. This book really reinforces the idea that books are absolutely vital and that stories have immense power, which is something I don’t think I’ll ever tire of reading about.

Thank you so much for reading! Have you read any of these books, or are you planning to? What did you think? And which books with a focus on reading and writing do you love? I’d love to chat with you in the comments!!

Amy xx

Author: goldenbooksgirl

Disabled book blogger who also writes TV, film, music and other posts from time to time | UKYABA Champion Teen 2018 | Email: | she/her

4 thoughts on “Reviews: Long Story Short, It Was a Good Time!”

  1. Ooh, I like the sound of Bookshop of Dust and Dreams much more than Pages and Co – do you think I’d like it?
    I’m hoping to read the next Front Desk books soon!


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