Reviews: THE LITTLEST LIBRARY and BET ON IT

 

Happy Friday! I hope everyone had a great week and that you all have exciting plans for the weekend.  I’m sure mine will be filled with plenty of reading and getting caught up on my blog hopping.   Today I’m sharing my thoughts on two of my recent reads, one of which was such a delightful surprise that I could easily see it making my “Best of” list at the end of the year.

 

Reviews:  THE LITTLEST LIBRARY and BET ON ITThe Littlest Library Goodreads

Author: Poppy Alexander

Publication Date: July 19, 2022

Publisher: Avon Books

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

I’m not even going to lie. I picked up The Littlest Library by Poppy Alexander because of that adorable cover.  Who can resist a charming little red phone booth converted into a library?  I sure couldn’t! I went into this book expecting a story just as cute as the cover and got so much more.  The Littlest Library is a heartwarming story about community, family, and finding your place in this world.  Oh and of course, it’s also about books. 😊

When we meet the protagonist, Jess Metcalf, she is having a rough go.  She has just lost her job as a librarian, her grandmother has recently died, and when Jess tries to take a drive to clear her head after dealing with her grandmother’s estate, she takes a wrong turn and her car breaks down right in the middle of a tiny town in the English countryside.  What Jess doesn’t realize at the time is that her wrong turn and subsequent breakdown is about to change her life in ways she never could have imagined.

I really adored Jess. She’s just so sweet and it’s obvious how much she loves her grandmother, Mimi.  When I learned that her grandmother had practically raised her, my heart just broke all the harder for Jess when Mimi died.  I also found it incredibly moving that Mimi, who knew she was dying, had boxed up all the books that she and Jess had treasured over the years to make sure that Jess kept them all.  I loved the bond between these two women so much and especially that their bond was made all the stronger by the books they shared. Mimi’s last wish is for Jess to go out and find herself a new adventure, rather than stay in their old house alone.  When Jess’ car breaks down in this cute little town in the country, she decides it’s a sign to do just that and buys herself a little cottage that happens to have an old red telephone booth on its property.

As much as I loved Jess, I really think the star of the book is this red phone booth and all that it symbolized, both for Jess and for the people in her new community.  When Jess decides to clean it up and turn it into a little library, using hers and Mimi’s books, it gives her both a renewed sense of purpose and a wonderful way to connect with the people in the town, who haven’t had a library of any kind in years.  They are starved for books and Jess is their hero.  It made me smile watching so many people come and check books out, chat with each other and with Jess.  There’s also a bit of a slow burn romance involving Jess and a grumpy neighbor that was enjoyable to read about, but I have to admit that I was pretty tunnel visioned on the library and the magic its books worked on everyone.  Who knew a little phone booth and some books could create such a renewed sense of community to a town and give a young woman the fresh start she’s looking for?

I love books about books so I fully expected to enjoy The Littlest Library, but let me tell you, it far exceeded my expectations and left me with the biggest smile on my face.  An absolute gem of a book!  4.5 STARS

 

Reviews:  THE LITTLEST LIBRARY and BET ON ITBet on It Goodreads

Author: Jodie Slaughter

Publication Date: July 12, 2022

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

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

Bet on It by Jodie Slaughter was a much deeper read than I was expecting based on that cute cover with the bingo card.  While the novel does feature a fun and sexy romance, it also offers an in depth exploration of social anxiety and panic attacks.

When we meet the protagonist, Aja Owens, she is having a panic attack in the local grocery store.  A young man named Walker sees her in distress and helps her through the attack.  Aja is mortified that he has witnessed her anxiety getting the best of her, but at the same time, she can’t help but notice how hot Walker is.  When she then heads to Bingo night, she runs into Walker again.  It turns out he is the grandson of her favorite bingo partner and that he’s in town to help his grandmother who has recently taken a nasty fall and is still healing from her injuries.  Aja, still embarrassed that Walker witnessed her having a panic attack, would love nothing more than to get up from the bingo table and run away, but Walker seems genuinely happy to see her so she lets down her guard and decides there’s no harm in getting to know him better.

I enjoyed the chemistry between Aja and Walker very much.  It was so much fun to watch the two of them bond over bingo, surrounded mostly by the senior citizen crowd.  Their banter was hilarious at times, and once it becomes clear they are physically attracted to one another, they even make a steamy bet based on which of them can get a bingo first.  While they definitely had a lot of fun together, I appreciated that they also had real discussions about mental health and that Walker reveals to Aja that he recognized her panic attacks because he also occasionally has them.  The author does a wonderful job of exploring panic attacks and social anxiety both realistically and with great sensitivity.

There’s some added drama in the story that revolves around Walker and his past.  He can’t wait for his grandmother to get better because he wants to get out of town and away from bad memories as soon as possible.  His attraction to Aja throws a kink into those plans and it was interesting to watch the two of them navigate through such a messy situation.  While I felt bad for Walker as we learn more about his past, there were times when I didn’t like him as much as I liked Aja.  I felt that some of his thoughts about Aja’s curvy body were a little cringeworthy at times, and I wanted to knock him upside the head. That’s probably just a “me” thing though so I wouldn’t let it put you off from reading the book.

Overall, Bet on It is an entertaining read that should appeal to anyone who enjoys not only a fun romance but also emotional and heartfelt exploration of mental illness.  3.5 STARS

 

20 replies
  1. Mica - Away From The Blue
    Mica - Away From The Blue says:

    The littlest library sounds like such a cute read! I’ve added it to my want to read list. I can’t add it to my hold list at the library as I have too many books requested on there, haha! Just waiting for some to come in do I can pick them up and free up some space on my hold requests, ha!

    Hope you are having a lovely weekend 🙂
    Mica – Away From The Blue recently posted…Linen Outfits In Winter: Magnificent 8 Style Challenge

    Reply
  2. Carla
    Carla says:

    Both great reviews, Suzanne. I am looking forward to The Littlest Library, it really tickles my fancy. I’m glad you enjoyed both of these. I do like a story that deals with mental health issues well and of course seniors and bingo both sound fun. I don’t like body shaming issues though, so might pass on Bet On It.

    Reply
  3. Sam@WLABB
    Sam@WLABB says:

    Look at that! We gave the same ratings to these books. OMG, yes! What Mimi did with those books. One of my favorite parts along with the wonderful community Jess found. If I had gotten a bit more at the end, I would have gone 5 stars on Littlest Library. It was very sweet, fun, and heartwarming.
    Sam@WLABB recently posted…Sloth Goes Places: New Jersey

    Reply
  4. Verushka
    Verushka says:

    The Littlest Library is genuinely such a gem — every review I’ve read has been glowing about it! The community around the library and around Jess is just ❤️

    Reply

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