The Summer Pact by Emily Giffin

☕☕☕☕ / 5

Thank you, Netgalley and Random House Publishing, for the advanced copy. 

The Summer Pact opened with a storyline that drew me in. I was excited to read on and discover what happened to the characters. And then it happened. One of the main female characters found out her fiance was cheating on her. I almost threw my Kindle across the room. I was this close to marking it “did not finish” and moving on to another book.

I’m glad I decided to keep reading, although I still hate that the catalyst for growth was because of cheating. I’m very much over female main characters finding happiness or changing because their significant other was cheating. 

The events of the book start when the three main characters, Lainey, Tyson, and Hannah, are in college and fast-forward to their early thirties. The point of view shifts between each of the three, but it is easy to follow and interesting to see the same events through different eyes. The characters each have great arcs throughout and change over the course of the story. I also enjoyed the dynamics between the three of them. I wish there had been more to show the dynamic between Tyson and Hannah. It was there but didn’t feel as fleshed out as Lainey and Hannah or Lainey and Tyson.

The book was easy to read and understand. The sentences flowed well, and the dialogue was relatable. Giffin also did a great job setting the scene and describing the various settings. I could picture them in my mind and could see this making a cute movie. 

Overall, I enjoyed this book, and it probably would have had five stars if cheating hadn’t been involved. For me, it’s become a lazy plot point to spur a woman to “find herself”! I would have preferred that Hannah’s jumping-off point have something to do with her relationship with her mother instead. It would have been something different and more intriguing. 

The plot around death and grief was well-written and made me reflect. Each character reacted differently, making for an interesting read. Much of the storyline also revolved around family and what that means, blood and found. I really feel these plotlines were stronger and more relatable than the cheating.

If you enjoy found family and friends who will be there for you no matter what, The Summer Pact may be for you.

Booked for Murder by PJ Nelson

☕☕☕☕ / 5

Thank you, Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press, for the advanced copy for review. 

Are you ready to be transported to a small town in Georgia? 

Then you need to read Booked for Murder by PJ Nelson. Nelson captures the feel of a small town and builds up the history around the Old Juniper Book Store and its characters. It reminded me of Cabot Cove of Murder, She Wrote fame.

Who is threatening the bookstore and the church down the street? You will want to keep reading to find out! There is good pacing and tension throughout, and the resolution felt satisfactory but left enough open for future books in the series. There were a couple of twists I didn’t see coming, but the main one was predictable. It didn’t affect my enjoyment of the book, though.

This book hooked me from the start, and I did not want to put it down. It definitely fits the cozy mystery genre right down to the cat trope! I enjoyed a couple of themes, which mostly revolved around ghosts of the past and what makes a place home. Is it where you were born, or is it more about the people? 

Booked for Murder is definitely setting up for a series, and you got an excellent introduction to the cast of characters and their dynamics. There is limited development because the author wants to save some of that for future books. The main female character had more chemistry with the fire chief over the gardener, but it feels like the author will push her to the gardener. They had too much in common and were too similar of characters to make a good match. I look forward to seeing if I’m wrong about future love interests! Overall, the main characters had some change and were likable. 

Nelson’s writing was straightforward to read and follow. The main female character’s point of view helped maintain consistency throughout and limited us to only what she knew and felt. I did feel some of the dialogue wasn’t as relatable. The characters sometimes spoke in depth and quoted things off the top of their head, which felt a bit pretentious. I don’t believe every character would have such a great memory!

If you are a cozy mystery lover, definitely check out Booked for Murder!

All Systems Red by Martha Wells

☕☕☕☕ / 5

It felt like we jumped into the middle of a world, and it took a little bit to build up the lore and worldbuilding. It started to come together in the second half. I thought the plot started a little slow, but it was needed to build the background information. I thought it resolved a little too quickly and easily, but it did leave room for future books.

The main character, a self-proclaimed murderbot, did change, and I liked the dynamics between the murder bot and humans. The murderbot’s motivation and wants were a little harder to figure out. I expect it in a series because we should learn a little more about the murderbot as the series goes on.

The book was very easy to read. I did feel like I was shoved off a cliff at first, and it took me a bit to understand. I enjoyed the point of view of the murderbot. It could also allow access to others so you can see some of their thoughts. I was very engaged and wanted to keep reading. I thought it fit the genre tropes well. 

The YouTube Formula by Derral Eves

☕☕ / 5

This book was very dry, despite listening to the audio version. It made sense and was easy to digest, but he used only the same two or three stories as examples. I thought having a new example each time would be better rather than going back over the same few. It got old fast.

It was too redundant, and I have no desire to re-read or reference it. Using the same stories over and over did not keep my attention. I felt the author didn’t bring anything new to the topic and only knew what he was doing three times in his career. It wasn’t a broad enough range.

It was easy to understand and follow. I got a couple of ideas I could implement. 

The Creative Act by Rick Rubin

☕☕☕☕☕ / 5

The Creative Act’s text flows well, makes a lot of sense, and is easy to read. The sentences and chapters are short and digestible, and the writing flows well from chapter to chapter. I liked the little snippets between some of the chapters. I highlighted a lot of good tidbits throughout.

Most of the examples were focused on music, which doesn’t surprise me, but I would have liked some other examples of different creative outlets. For the most part, Rubin knows what he’s talking about. I would not take his medical advice, which he did touch on in this book.

I liked that the concepts and chapters were short and sweet. You wouldn’t think it was a 400+ page book. The items here could be easily implemented; I started some of them while reading the book! I really enjoyed this book and took a lot away from it. It was useful, enriched my understanding, and will have a lasting impact. 

What have you read recently? Any five-star reads?


Jenna Volden has a degree in business and has spent the last 10 plus years working for others. She believes it is time to start her own photography and writing business. She enjoys running, coffee and helping others achieve their goals. Gluten-free foods are a lifestyle, not a choice, for her due to celiac disease. She is currently based in Phoenix, Arizona.


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