Ten Mini Book Reviews Pt. 28

Hello everyone! I’m back with another set of mini book reviews! This post will feature Mary Jane, All The Light We Cannot See, Come Fly the World, Carrie Soto is Back, Alexander Hamilton, Meet Me on Love Lane, Cover Story, Lessons in Chemistry, Velvet Was the Night, and The Name-Bearer.

These books put my total read in 2022 up to 104! I’m so close to catching up with where I am now too!

Note about my ratings: I’ve switched to using the StoryGraph to track and rate the books I’ve been reading. This site uses 1-5 stars, 5 being the highest, in 0.25 increments. Feel free to friend me on the StoryGraph – my username is StarringPamela there!

One more promo, I started a Bookstagram! Follow me at Instagram.com/StarringPamelaReads!

Mary Jane by Jessica Anya Blau

I read this book after a friend recommended it! I actually checked out the audiobook which I would highly recommend!

Mary Jane is a young, sheltered girl from a well-off family, taking a job as a summer nanny to a family completely different from her own. The job shows Mary Jane a world that she’d been completely unaware of, and she finds herself with a new outlook on life than she ever thought possible.

Now, I really liked this novel although I will say I thought it was a bit much considering Mary Jane was 14. Even so, Mary Jane’s story was hilarious and so fun to read. She has a great inner monologue, all the characters are so intriguing, and the imagery is so good! I really felt like I could see everything Mary Jane was seeing and really enjoyed reading this book.

I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

I read this book as I’d previously enjoyed another book by the same author.

This novel features multiple characters in occupied France during World War II. Marie-Laure is a young, blind girl who flees Paris with her father and moves in with her eccentric uncle. Warner is recruited into the German army when his mechanical gifts are discovered. Although they don’t know each other, their lives connect in many ways throughout the war.

I did struggle to get into this one to be honest. I did eventually enjoy it once I got further into it but at first I was very confused. I would say that it was really cool to see the story come together and it did it in a really creative way, which I really liked. There were elements of a little of everything that I enjoy to read and the characters were really interesting to get to know as well.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Come Fly the World: The Jet-Set Story of the Women of Pan-Am by Julia Cooke

I read this book for the non-fiction book club at my library.

This book explores the careers of several women who worked for Pan Am in the 1960s and 1970s. Pan Am had strict requirements for the stewardesses they hired, such as a college degree, speaking at least two languages, height and weight restrictions, and had to be under 26 years old to be hired. Then the slow movement of requiring women to quit once they got married, to pushing that back to when they became pregnant, and eventually until they felt like it. The book also spotlights several women and their own careers with Pan Am, their experiences, and how their careers impacted the world.

I will say as a millennial woman reading this, it was an incredibly eye-opening book. It was just wild to see how limited a college educated woman was in the 60s and 70s! The older women in the book club who lived during that time were equally amused at how the millennials were blown away by this. Of course, we knew options were limited, but it was still weird that the women had to meet so many requirements yet still couldn’t get many jobs. It was a really interesting book, although I will say it was overall more tame than one might expect in terms of adventures and actual stories from the stewardesses.

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid

I greatly enjoy TJR books, so I had to to read her new novel!

Carrie Soto is a retired tennis legend who comes back to compete once she realizes her records are at risk of being shattered by a new-comer in the tennis world. Carrie faces intense training after being out of tennis for several years, competing against women much younger than her in their peak physical capabilities, and being considered generally unlikable by her peers and the media.

I adored Carrie as a character and the novel as a whole! Carrie was so interesting and motivated! I was going to attempt to listen to the novel on audiobook, but switched to the physical copy of the book pretty quickly. The Spanish just was a little too cringe in the audiobook version! Oh, Carrie is Latina (hence her last name) so I did enjoy that part of her story although I know it’s controversial since TJR is not. But I did really like Carrie and her journey and I had a great time reading it.

I gave this book 4.75 out of 5 stars.

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

I read this book because of the musical inspired by it!

This biography tells the story of the first US Treasury Secretary and Founding Father, Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was largely a forgotten figure in history, following his early death, so this biography is considered the first and only full biography of Hamilton’s life.

This biography actually took me several years to get through! I first started this book years ago at the height of the Hamilton hype following the musical and got half way through. I actually had the physical book, but ended up getting the audio book from the library and listening the bulk of this while on vacation. I finished up the audio version after the vacation since I still only got halfway through. I totally could have finished it earlier but chose to go back and start from the beginning. I don’t think I needed to start over again since I actually remembered most of it. But I did appreciate getting to read it from the start again.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Meet Me on Love Lane, Volume 2 (Hopeless Romantics #2) by Nina Bocci

I read this for the fiction book club I’m a part of at my library.

This is the second book in a series that we did not read in order. Charlotte is the main character of this book, and she is “temporarily” moving back to her small hometown in Pennsylvania after being fired from her job back in New York City. While Charlotte has not been back since childhood and forgotten most of her life before she left, she quickly settles into her life in Hope Lake and catches the eye of two eligible men in town.

Now, there was a lot of this book that we, as a book club, were confused by. Overall we chalked it up to the fact that we were reading the second book in a series of three, so maybe not everything was explained in this one in particular. But overall these rom-com type books do require a bit of suspension in disbelief. Overall, Charlotte was a fun character to follow and Hope Lake was vividly charming. Oh, I will add that the cover is very misleading though. The cover has these gorgeous fall leaves featured on it, but most of the story takes place in the summer!

I gave this book 4.25 out of 5 stars.

Cover Story by Susan Rigetti

This book was recommended to me by one of my besties and also her mom!

This book gives major Inventing Anna vibes. The novel features character Lora, who meets Cat while interning at a magazine one summer. Lora has dropped out of college after losing her scholarship and is struggling to get her career started. Cat offers Lora the chance to move into her suite at a luxury hotel in exchange for ghostwriting a book for Cat. On the outside, Cat is an heiress trying to make her own way while still living off her father’s money, but as Lora gets closer to Cat she realizes not all is what it seems.

This was a really fun read! At the end I was questioning everything and I was so intrigued during the entire story! The book is written super creatively too, as it’s mostly Lora’s diary entries but also text messages, news articles, FBI correspondence, emails, and other communication mediums. The entire time there is a feeling that something is a little off, as the story slowly unfolds. I really enjoyed this one!

I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus

I read this one after seeing it everywhere on social media and a few of my ballet friends recommending it!

Elizabeth Zott is a scientist in 1960s California, who finds herself the unlikely TV star of a cooking show. Zott faces many, many challenges as a woman and single mother at the time, but through it all she sticks to her values and beliefs, demanding rather than requesting the respect she is due.

I loved this book! Elizabeth Zott is such a cool character. While it is, at times, frustrating at how stubborn and unyielding she is, at the end I was left proud of her for sticking to what she felt was most important. Elizabeth was a character I could identify with in many ways, and I loved reading her story.

I gave this book 4.75 out of 5 stars.

Velvet Was the Night by Silvia Moreno-Garcia

I read this one after seeing it highlighted in Libby! It was also on President Obama’s summer reading list of 2022.

This novel follows Maite, a secretary living a bland life in 1970s Mexico City. Maite agrees to house and cat sit for her neighbor, Leonora, for a weekend. But when Leonora fails to appear, Maite starts a search for her in and around the city. Elvis is a young man who loves rock ‘n’ roll but works as a goon for a politically motivated group in the city. He is soon tasked with finding Leonora, which leads me to Maite as well. Leonora is revealed to be in possession of some photos that the people after her do not want to get out, which throws an unsuspecting Maite into a dangerous search.

This book was so thrilling and dark! I really enjoyed the setting as I am a little familiar with Mexico and a bit on the politics of that time too. The characters themselves, Maite and Elvis especially, were also so intriguing. I listed to the audio book of this one and it was really good! I do want to read other books by Moreno-Garcia, as I haven’t yet. I just really liked how vivid her story was!

I gave this book 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Name-Bearer (Flowers of Prophecy #1) by Natalia Hernandez

I saw this book on TikTok! I actually came across the author last year when she had the dream that inspired this novel.

The Name-Bearer has been training her entire life to receive and deliver the name of the royal child. But when the child is finally born and the Name-Bearer visits the Flowers of Prophecy meant to name the baby, they refuse to do so as they claim another child was born that same day who is the actual future monarch. The Name-Bearer, now considered a traitor, goes on the fun to join the Daughters of Danray at their training facility for warrior women. She trains to someday be able to find the Unnamed Prince, who the Flowers of Prophecy claim will bring peace to the kingdom.

I loved this book! I felt like I already knew the story from the TikToks but I loved actually reading the novel. Hernandez brought a lot of Hispanic culture into the story and wove it in beautifully. I was honestly surprised at how slowly the novel unfolded until I realized it’ll actually be two books. I will say the book did a bit too much “telling” versus “showing” for my liking in the world building but I still really enjoyed it. I do think the characters were phenomenal though and I really liked reading about each one.

I gave this book 4.75 out of 5 stars.

So those are ten of the latest books I read lately! These are finally books I actually read recently, the most recent I finished just a few days ago! I’m so glad to finally be caught up!

Thanks for reading!


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