Reviews: ONE NIGHT ON THE ISLAND & THE UNSINKABLE GRETA JAMES

 

Hey everyone!  I hope you all had a nice weekend. Did anyone watch the Super Bowl?  I had it on as background noise while I was blogging but wasn’t really rooting for anyone this year.  It’s hard to believe that we’re already halfway through February and that Valentine’s Day is upon us, but here we are.  Today I’m sharing reviews for two outstanding books that I was fortunate enough to read last week.  I was having a busy, draining week because of work so it was lovely to have two 5 star reads round out my week for the better.  One Night on the Island is the third novel I’ve read from Josie Silver, and Jennifer E. Smith is a new-to-me author.

 

Reviews:  ONE NIGHT ON THE ISLAND & THE UNSINKABLE GRETA JAMESOne Night on the Island Goodreads

Author: Josie Silver

Publication Date: February 15, 2022

Publisher:  Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

Josie Silver is the queen of writing beautiful, heartfelt stories and her latest novel, One Night on the Island, is exactly that.  It features a young woman named Cleo, who writes a popular dating column for a British publication.  Her column follows her as she searches for her soulmate. Thus far her journey has been entertaining but unsuccessful, and now that she is about to turn 30, her boss thinks now would be a great time for Cleo to do something special for her column to mark the occasion.  The boss’ idea of something special is to send Cleo to Salvation, a remote island in Ireland, on a mini sabbatical of sorts, where she can relax, re-energize, and basically fall in love with herself. The culmination of this journey would be a self-coupling ceremony where she marries herself, to signify that she’s at peace with herself and happy she’s single.

Cleo isn’t completely sold on the self-coupling idea but decides time for self-care in a remote location might not be such a bad thing.  That is, until she discovers that the cabin she is supposed to be staying in has been double-booked and there’s no where else to stay on the tiny island.  Great…how is she supposed to embark on a journey of self-reflection and self-love with an unwanted roommate, especially when that roommate is a handsome American photographer named Mac who gets under Cleo’s skin from the first moment they meet?

I really loved the chemistry between Cleo and Mac.  There are some hilarious moments between them as they verbally sparred over who was most entitled to stay in the cabin and when they resort to drawing a chalk line through the center of the cabin to carve out space for themselves.  But it’s not all humor between these two.  Mac is separated from his wife, on the verge of divorce, and is missing his kids like crazy.  He’s pretty heartbroken and has no idea what his future is going to look like. He has, on the surface, come to Salvation to photograph the island for an exhibit, but he’s also there to do some soul searching.  In spite of their initial animosity toward one another, Cleo and Mac begin to talk and realize that their reasons for being on the island aren’t so different.  I really loved once they made it to this part of their relationship and began to grow closer.

While Cleo and Mac and their growing relationship definitely stole my heart, I was also completely enamored with all of the residents of Salvation.  They’re basically one big extended family and they welcomed Mac and Cleo with open arms.  The sense of community and how they were all there for one another just made my heart swell.

I have to admit that I was a little nervous that the self-coupling aspect of the story would be a little hokey, but Silver pulls it off flawlessly and it ended up being one of the most moving and magical moments of the whole book for me.  The rugged terrain of Ireland didn’t hurt either, adding so much atmosphere and beauty to the moment.

If you enjoy heartwarming books that feature both a romance as well as an intimate personal journey for its characters, I highly recommend One Night on the Island5 STARS

 

Reviews:  ONE NIGHT ON THE ISLAND & THE UNSINKABLE GRETA JAMESThe Unsinkable Greta James Goodreads

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group – Ballantine

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from Netgalley.  All opinions are my own.

The Unsinkable Greta James is the first novel I’ve read from Jennifer E. Smith and boy does it pack an emotional punch!  It follows successful indie musician Greta James as she takes a week-long Alaskan cruise with her estranged father.  The cruise was meant to be a 40th wedding anniversary trip for Greta’s parents, but Greta’s mom passed away unexpectedly.  When her father announced he was going on the cruise anyway because the trip meant so much to his wife, Greta reluctantly agrees to accompany him so that he won’t be alone with his grief.

The complicated dynamics of the relationship between Greta and her dad captivated me from the start.  It’s clear that they love each other immensely and would do anything for each other, as is evidenced by Greta agreeing to be stuck on a ship with her dad for a week. But, that said, it’s equally clear that the relationship is very strained and that much of the strain is due to Greta’s dad not approving of her career in music. I immediately became invested in them mending their relationship, especially seeing how much they were both hurting over the loss of Greta’s mom.  Whether they realize it or not, they need each other more than ever before.

Greta’s journey in this book isn’t just about repairing her relationship with her dad though. It’s also a journey of healing for herself.  Her mom was her biggest fan, attending her rock concerts and holding up a sign that read “Greta’s Mom” on it.  Knowing that she would never again see her mom’s face and sign in the crowd again emotionally wrecked her and she actually breaks down on stage in the middle of her first performance after her mom’s death.  The moment went viral and she received a lot of bad press over it, to the point where she doesn’t even know if she has a career anymore.  She’s at a crossroads and trying to figure out how she can move forward.

I adored Greta and was 100% in her corner as she navigates her way through the minefield of pain and grief that surrounds her. I became especially enamored with her when a teenage girl recognizes her on the ship and tells her that she plays guitar like Greta and wants to be just like her.  They share several scenes throughout the book and it’s so sweet to see Greta take the time to mentor this girl even with the weight of the world on her shoulders.

The Unsinkable Greta James is one of the most moving books I’ve read in a while.  It’s a sad but hopeful story and it really made me think a lot about the importance of family and the power of healing. I will also freely admit that I cried my eyes out several times, especially as I approached the final heartwarming moments of this beautiful story. It’s one that is going to stick with me for a while, no doubt about it.  5 STARS

26 replies
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      It was such a great book. I didn’t touch on it in my review but I also really loved the indie rock star angle of the story. There’s quite a bit about her creative process and how her grief impacts that.

      Reply
  1. Amanda Kay Oaks
    Amanda Kay Oaks says:

    Great reviews! I really enjoyed One Night on the Island, as well!

    I had the superbowl on in the background, as well. I don’t generally care about football but it’s the first time in my life that my hometown team, the Cincinnati Bengals, have made it, so I felt obligated to at least pay a small amount of attention lol.

    Reply
  2. Angela
    Angela says:

    Haha, the halftime show was basically the highlight of the Super Bowl for me! Hooray for two 5-star reads in a week! That’s awesome! I’m really looking forward to One Night on the Island, so I’m glad to hear it was a hit for you.

    Reply
  3. Sam@WLABB
    Sam@WLABB says:

    High five! We both loved these, but seriously, they were so good. Yes! The people of Salvation were such a special treat. I would love to return there. You wrote “Greta’s Mom” and I wanted to cry. So beautiful! I was happy we got to know her mom so well via memories. She was wonderful!
    Sam@WLABB recently posted…#AmReading

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      I agree about getting to know Greta’s mom. Such a special lady and yes, the sign made me cry several times as I was reading. And don’t even get me started about the sign at the end, lol.

      Reply
  4. Greg
    Greg says:

    Books always make things better. 🙂 And I didn’t watch the Super Bowl AT ALL. Usually I do just for the commercials at least if I’m not into theteams, but this year… nopers. Weird. Maybe I’m sports’d out from the Olympics lol. Anywho… both of thse sound fabulous but I especially like the sound of that first one, and the Ireland setting doesn’t hurt!
    Greg recently posted…Song of the Week

    Reply
  5. verushka
    verushka says:

    These are both such wonderful reads, Suzanne, but Greta, her mom and her ‘Greta’s Mom’ sign was just ❤️. I adored that, and the promise of the father/ daughter relationship in it.

    Reply
    • Suzanne
      Suzanne says:

      It was such a wonderful read, and getting to know Greta’s mom through memories of how supportive she was of Greta had me in tears several times. It was just so moving!

      Reply
  6. Literary Feline
    Literary Feline says:

    I hope work wasn’t as exhausting for you this week–but what are the chances, right? I could really use a vacation. I am looking forward to the long weekend. I just wish I didn’t have so much to do! The end of March can’t come soon enough . . . Both of these books sound amazing, Suzanne. I am not sure which one appeals to me more: The Unsinkable Greta James or One Night on the Island. I will have to read them both!
    Literary Feline recently posted…Where Is Your Bookmark: A Wedding and a Dead Body & Connect Five: Top of My Graphic Novel/Manga TBR Pile

    Reply

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