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Literary Friday: Four Mini Book Reviews

Friday, February 24, 2023


Happy Literary Friday, My Lovelies!  Today I'm sharing with you a literary rabbit hole I went down at the first of the year.  Each review will be short and sweet since I'm sharing four books in this post.


Before I get to the reviews, I want to share with you my newest book from Forget-Me-Not Bookshop.  HERE is the Etsy link.  

A 1951 printing of Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell.
The fabric binding is reclaimed from a tablecloth and was bought at a vintage emporium in Hertfordshire. It dates from the 1950s so a similar age to the book.

Have you ever read Gone With the Wind?  I've read it twice, and I like to collect unusual editions of books I like.  Other titles I collect are Rebecca, The Secret Garden, Emma, and A Wrinkle In Time.

Now on to the mini reviews...

I read The Book Haters' Book Club by Gretchen Anthony at the end of 2022.  I enjoyed the book so much, and it led me down a literary rabbit hole.  I'll explain in my review.

According to Goodreads:

All it takes is the right book to turn a Book Hater into a Book Lover…

That was Elliott’s belief and the reason why he started The Book Haters’ Book Club—a newsletter of reading recommendations for the self-proclaimed “nonreader.” As the beloved co-owner of Over the Rainbow Bookstore, Elliott’s passion and gift was recommending books to customers. Now, after his sudden death, his grief-ridden business partner, Irma, has agreed to sell Over the Rainbow to a developer who will turn the cozy bookstore into high-rise condos.

But others won’t give up the bookstore without a fight. When Irma breaks the news to her daughters, Bree and Laney, and Elliott’s romantic partner, Thom, they are aghast. Over the Rainbow has been Bree and Laney’s sanctuary since childhood, and Thom would do anything to preserve Elliott’s legacy. Together, Thom, Bree and Laney conspire to save the bookstore, even if it takes some snooping, gossip and minor sabotage.

Filled with humor, family hijinks and actual reading recommendations, The Book Haters' Book Club is the ideal feel-good read. It’s a celebration of found family and a love letter to the everyday heroes who run bookstores.

My Review:

This book was sad because of Elliott's death.  We learn so much about him from those he left behind:  He was definitely loved, and the grief from his death is a large part of the narrative.  His partner, Thom, has a chip on his shoulder about Irma, Elliott's business partner for almost forty years.  He was slightly jealous of her.  There's also a lot of family drama between the sisters Bree and Laney and their mother Irma.  They don't communicate well at all.

Interspersed between chapters are back issues of The Book Haters' Book Club Newsletter.  Gretchen Anthony asked independent booksellers from across the country to recommend books to include in the fictitious newsletters.  I truly enjoyed reading about the books.  Some of them I had read before, and some were new to me.  Three books in particular piqued my interest,  and I checked them out from my local library.  I am such a hopeless book nerd!

These are the three books I checked out from the library.

The first book I read was Abbi Waxman's The Garden of Small Beginnings.  

According to Goodreads:

Lilian Girvan has been a single mother for three years—ever since her husband died in a car accident. One mental breakdown and some random suicidal thoughts later, she’s just starting to get the hang of this widow thing. She can now get her two girls to school, show up to work, and watch TV like a pro. The only problem is she’s becoming overwhelmed with being underwhelmed.

At least her textbook illustrating job has some perks—like actually being called upon to draw whale genitalia. Oh, and there’s that vegetable-gardening class her boss signed her up for. Apparently, being the chosen illustrator for a series of boutique vegetable guides means getting your hands dirty, literally. Wallowing around in compost on a Saturday morning can’t be much worse than wallowing around in pajamas and self-pity.

After recruiting her kids and insanely supportive sister to join her, Lilian shows up at the Los Angeles botanical garden feeling out of her element. But what she’ll soon discover—with the help of a patient instructor and a quirky group of gardeners—is that into every life a little sun must shine, whether you want it to or not…

My Review:

I was fairly certain that I would enjoy this book because I adored Waxman's The Bookish Life of Nina Hill.  I was correct in my assessment!  I do want to warn y'all that it is also sad because Lilian's grief over the loss of her husband is palpable.  This is the story about a family: I love how close Lilian is to her sister and sister-in-law.  Her mother, however, is a narcissist, and I enjoyed reading how Lilian handles her.  

The Saturday morning gardening lessons Lilian attends for her job is just the therapy she needs.  The cast of characters participating are both fascinating and very well-drawn.  They all become a family of sorts and help each other during difficult times.  Found family is a trope I love, and the way Waxman handles it in this heartwarming story is perfect.  I highly recommend it.

Next, I read The Friend by Sigrid Nunez.

According to Goodreads:

A moving story of love, friendship, grief, healing, and the magical bond between a woman and her dog.

When a woman unexpectedly loses her lifelong best friend and mentor, she finds herself burdened with the unwanted dog he has left behind. Her own battle against grief is intensified by the mute suffering of the dog, a huge Great Dane traumatized by the inexplicable disappearance of its master, and by the threat of eviction: dogs are prohibited in her apartment building.

While others worry that grief has made her a victim of magical thinking, the woman refuses to be separated from the dog except for brief periods of time. Isolated from the rest of the world, increasingly obsessed with the dog's care, determined to read its mind and fathom its heart, she comes dangerously close to unraveling. But while troubles abound, rich and surprising rewards lie in store for both of them.

Elegiac and searching, The Friend is both a meditation on loss and a celebration of human-canine devotion.

My Review:

I know, I know....three books in a row about grief.  GOOD GRIEF, what was I thinking?  Ugh...

I would not suggest that you read this book unless you are in a very good place emotionally:  It is a bit on the depressing side.  I thought I'd love it because it's about a Harlequin Great Dane, but unfortunately I did not because it might be one of the top five saddest books I've ever read.  However, I truly do love Sigrid Nunez's voice.  She is a very gifted writer, and I'm glad I read this book for that fact alone.  There is also an unexpected plot point or two in the book, and it's heartwarming to read about the love and care of a dog who is also suffering a great loss.

The third book I read was The Cape Ann by Faith Sullivan.

I love that the cover has an Edward Hopper painting on it.

According to Goodreads:

Lark Erhardt, the six-year-old narrator of The Cape Ann, and her fiercely independent mother dream of owning their own house; they have their hearts set on the Cape Ann, chosen from a house catalog. But when Lark’s father’s gambling threatens the down payment her mother has worked so hard to save, Lark’s mother takes matters into her own indomitable hands. A disarmingly involving portrait of a family struggling to stay together through the Great Depression, The Cape Ann is an unforgettable story of life from a child’s-eye view. 

My Review:

I am a fan of this novel: It should be considered an American classic!  There's so much to love about this book. Lark is a fantastic narrator as she attempts to understand the adults in her life and their (sometimes) juvenile and cruel actions.  There's a true sense of time and place: I could feel the bitter Minnesotan winters during the height of the Great Depression.  The story's conclusion is hopeful, yet it left me wanting more of the story.  Fortunately there's a sequel entitled Gardenias.  I ordered both The Cape Ann and Gardenias for our family library.  I haven't read the sequel yet, but I will probably read it soon.

If you like historical fiction set during The Great Depression, a story full of hope and endurance, and well-drawn, strong and indomitable female characters you'll remember long after finishing the book, then you should enjoy The Cape Ann.

Are you interested in reading any of the four books?

Coming Soon:

Join us March 1st for field trips and travels!

Until next time...

Happy reading!
Ricki Jill


  1. The Book Haters Book Club sounds good to me, but the others not so much...I do appreciate your honest reviews~

  2. Thanks for introducing me to several titles I wasn't at all familiar with! They look like wonderful reads and your reviews are really well conceived. I also love your Gone with the Wind volume and the beautiful way it was bound.

  3. These all sound really good. Thanks for your wonderful reviews. Happy Friday. Have a good weekend. Hugs. Kris

  4. Interesting books, thanks for the reviews. I have read Gone With The Wind and I love your book. I also have a copy of The Secret Garden from when my mother was a child in the 1930's and it's a treasure. xo

  5. Thank you for the reviews. :-)


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I'm Ricki Jill. Welcome! I'm honored that you're reading my blog. I enjoy sharing my creative lifestyle @ The Bookish Dilettante. For more information about my blog, please read the Start Here page. Thank-you for stopping by, and I hope you'll consider following me via email.

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