The Unsinkable Greta James

Title:  The Unsinkable Greta James

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Series: N/A

Publication Date: March 1, 2022

Format: E-book

Genre: Fiction

Sub Genre(s): Contemporary, Family


Summary: Greta James’s meteoric rise to indie stardom was hard-won. Before she graced magazine covers and sold out venues, she spent her girlhood strumming her guitar in the family garage. Her first fan was her mother, Helen, whose face shone bright in the dusty downtown bars where she got her start. But not everyone encouraged Greta to follow her dreams. While many daydream about a crowd chanting their name, her father, Conrad, sees only a precarious life ahead for his daughter.

Greta has spent her life trying to prove him wrong. But three months after Helen’s sudden death, and weeks before the launch of her high-stakes sophomore album, Greta has an onstage meltdown that goes viral. Attempting to outrun the humiliation and heartbreak, she reluctantly agrees to accompany her father on a week-long Alaskan cruise, the very one that her parents had booked to celebrate their fortieth anniversary.

This could be the James family’s last chance to heal old wounds, and will prove to be a voyage of discovery for them, as well as for Ben Wilder, a historian also struggling with a major upheaval in his life. Ben is on board to lecture about Jack London’s The Call of the Wild, the adventure story Greta’s mother adored, and he captures Greta’s attention after her streak of dating hanger-ons. As Greta works to build up her confidence and heal, and Ben confronts his uncertain future, they must rely on one another to make sense of life’s difficult choices. In the end, Greta must make the most challenging decision of all: to listen to the song within her or make peace with those who love her.


What I Liked: This was a lovely, realistic portrayal of grief and familial relationships that had me smiling one scene and tearing up the next. I found Greta to be a sympathetic character, even when she was making decisions that I didn’t agree with or found frustrating. One of the things I liked most about this book was the acknowledgement that everyone grieves differently and that we need to allow people the time and space they need to work through their emotions at their own pace. Greta sees her “meltdown” as weak and potentially career damaging, but it takes the time spent and discussions had with Ben and her dad for her to realize how needed that moment was for her to begin to heal.  The relationship Greta has with her dad was heartbreaking and I found myself wishing they could say to each other what they really wanted to without it turning into a fight.  But isn’t that how life is? Especially when the parent and child are both adults with their own lives and ways of seeing the world. They love each other but will they ever see eye to eye? I found it touching when Greta would have little moments of worry about her dad getting older even while she was angry with him or feeling like they would never have a good relationship. The relationship between Ben and Greta was cute and it was refreshing to see two adults that treated each other with respect and were open and honest with their feelings.  Yes, there were moments of miscommunication and angst but it never falls into unbelievable. I found the ending to be satisfying and even though I would have liked more, I appreciate an author knowing when and how to end a story.

What I Didn’t Like: I would have liked more interactions and conversations between Greta and her dad because the resolution to their storyline seemed a bit rushed. Their issues had been going on since Greta was a teenager so I would have liked to see them communicate more.

Who Should Read It: I think this would be a good book club pick that will lead to great discussions, especially about parent-child relationships. I would be hesitant to recommend this to anyone who has lost a parent without giving them a warning about the content.

Review Wrap Up: Smith has managed to write a beautiful story about the loss of a loved one without making the story overly sad or depressing. It was heartfelt and joyful and left me with hope. I believe this book will end up on a lot of people’s best of lists this year.

Favorite Quote: “Maybe the point isn’t always to make things last…maybe it’s just to make them count.”


thespinsterlibrarian

*Thank you to Netgalley and Ballatine Books for providing an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review*

Delilah Green Doesn’t Care

Title: Delilah Green Doesn’t Care

Author: Ashley Herring Blake

Series: Bright Falls

Publication Date: February 22nd, 2022

Format:  e-book

Genre: Romance

Sub Genre(s): LGBTQ+, Contemporary


Summary: Delilah Green swore she would never go back to Bright Falls—nothing is there for her but memories of a lonely childhood where she was little more than a burden to her cold and distant stepfamily. Her life is in New York, with her photography career finally gaining steam and her bed never empty. Sure, it’s a different woman every night, but that’s just fine with her.

When Delilah’s estranged stepsister, Astrid, pressures her into photographing her wedding with a guilt trip and a five-figure check, Delilah finds herself back in the godforsaken town that she used to call home. She plans to breeze in and out, but then she sees Claire Sutherland, one of Astrid’s stuck-up besties, and decides that maybe there’s some fun (and a little retribution) to be had in Bright Falls, after all.

Having raised her eleven-year-old daughter mostly on her own while dealing with her unreliable ex and running a bookstore, Claire Sutherland depends upon a life without surprises. And Delilah Green is an unwelcome surprise…at first. Though they’ve known each other for years, they don’t really know each other—so Claire is unsettled when Delilah figures out exactly what buttons to push. When they’re forced together during a gauntlet of wedding preparations—including a plot to save Astrid from her horrible fiancé—Claire isn’t sure she has the strength to resist Delilah’s charms. Even worse, she’s starting to think she doesn’t want to…


What I Liked: Every character in this book is fully realized, with their own quirks and problems and feelings. Delilah can best be described as prickly but as we find out she has genuine reasons to be that way. It’s a testament to Herring Blake’s skill as a writer that Delilah never comes off as mean, at least to people who don’t deserve it. The queer representation in this book is something that has been missing in a lot of recent romance novels. Many LGBTQ romances seem to include queer characters as an afterthought but both Delilah and Claire feel like real people. Claire’s bisexuality is truly a part of her personality and shapes her thoughts and actions. I don’t know how Herring Blake did it, but she wrote a romance novel that is swoony and funny and heartwarming and also managed to write a touching story about the relationship between sisters and the importance of friends who always support you and the real struggles of co-parenting with an ex and the fear of being alone. Phew!  Every side story got enough time to feel important and I was invested in each and every character.

What I Didn’t Like: Ummm nothing? If pressed to find something to critique, the villains in the story sometimes felt a bit over the top and out of place in a book that overall felt authentic and real. However, the way they are dealt with in the end makes sense to the story.

Who Should Read It:  Any romance fan will find something to love about this book. I think this will end up being on a lot of best of the year lists.

Review Wrap Up: It was truly refreshing to read a romance in which the heroines are their authentic selves and love each other just as they are. The relationships in this book, both romantic and platonic, felt true and I want to be friends with this group in real life. It’s only January but this may end up being one of my favorite books of the year.  

Favorite Quote: “She didn’t have to be alone. Not unless she just wanted to be, and goddammit, she didn’t.”


thespinsterlibrarian

*Thank you to Berkley and Netgalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review*

The Great Believers

Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a crier. I cry at movies. I cry at TV shows. I will even cry at commercials!  But for some reason, it takes a lot to make me cry at books.  In fact, I can’t remember the last time I cried while reading one….until now.  And my crying was intense and prolonged. It was a sustained cry for the last 100 pages.   It was not cute.  This book, while not perfect, is one of the best books I have ever read.  I finished it in 3 sittings because I was so invested in the story and characters.  I am still thinking about it and will continue to think about it for several more days.  I am hesitant to recommend it due to the heaviness of the plot but if you’re looking for a book that will rip your heart out and take your breath away, I can’t recommend this book enough.

Continue reading “The Great Believers”

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