Thursday, November 23, 2023

In a Nutshell Reviews

In a Nutshell Reviews are my version of mini-reviews, because sometimes, you just want the highlights.

Sweet Sorrow
 by David Nicholls
Published by Mariner Books on July 9, 2019
Age/Genres: Adult, Fiction, Romance

From the best-selling author of One Day comes a bittersweet and brilliantly funny coming-of-age tale about the heart-stopping thrill of first love—and how just one summer can forever change a life.

Now: On the verge of marriage and a fresh start, thirty-eight year old Charlie Lewis finds that he can’t stop thinking about the past, and the events of one particular summer.

Then: Sixteen-year-old Charlie Lewis is the kind of boy you don’t remember in the school photograph. He’s failing his classes. At home he looks after his depressed father—when surely it should be the other way round—and if he thinks about the future at all, it is with a kind of dread.

But when Fran Fisher bursts into his life and despite himself, Charlie begins to hope.

In order to spend time with Fran, Charlie must take on a challenge that could lose him the respect of his friends and require him to become a different person. He must join the Company. And if the Company sounds like a cult, the truth is even more appalling: The price of hope, it seems, is Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet learned and performed in a theater troupe over the course of a summer.

Now: Charlie can’t go the altar without coming to terms with his relationship with Fran, his friends, and his former self. Poignant, funny, enchanting, devastating, Sweet Sorrow is a tragicomedy about the rocky path to adulthood and the confusion of family life, a celebration of the reviving power of friendship and that brief, searing explosion of first love that can only be looked at directly after it has burned out.

This is my first book by Nicholls, and I really enjoyed it.

There is this part, near the end, where Charlie talks about how this was a love story, and I agree. It was about first love, familial love, paternal love, among other types of love. It seemed like a tale of first love on the surface, but it was also a coming-of-age tale.

Before his pending nuptials, Charlie looked back on the summer he first fell in love. This was a difficult time in Charlie's life. Charlie's father's mental health had been deteriorating for some time, and when his mother left, he was expected to look after his dad. This was stressful and pushed Charlie towards some poor decision making and into a bad place. Meeting Fran and joining The Company would prove to be life changing in the long run, but in the short run, it made his life bearable.

I am making this sound so heavy and sad, but I actually had quite a rollicking good time reading this book. There is nothing like being in the head of a teen boy. I laughed quite a bit and really appreciated Charlie's humor. It kept this story from being too heavy or gloomy. I took quite a personal journey with Charlie, but I was very happy with where he landed.

How to Find Love in a Bookshop
 by Veronica Henry
Published by Penguin Books on May 19, 2016
Age/Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Fiction

The enchanting story of a bookshop, its grieving owner, a supportive literary community, and the extraordinary power of books to heal the heart

Nightingale Books, nestled on the main street in an idyllic little village, is a dream come true for book lovers--a cozy haven and welcoming getaway for the literary-minded locals. But owner Emilia Nightingale is struggling to keep the shop open after her beloved father's death, and the temptation to sell is getting stronger. The property developers are circling, yet Emilia's loyal customers have become like family, and she can't imagine breaking the promise she made to her father to keep the store alive.

There's Sarah, owner of the stately Peasebrook Manor, who has used the bookshop as an escape in the past few years, but it now seems there's a very specific reason for all those frequent visits. Next is roguish Jackson, who, after making a complete mess of his marriage, now looks to Emilia for advice on books for the son he misses so much. And the forever shy Thomasina, who runs a pop-up restaurant for two in her tiny cottage--she has a crush on a man she met in the cookbook section, but can hardly dream of working up the courage to admit her true feelings.

Enter the world of Nightingale Books for a serving of romance, long-held secrets, and unexpected hopes for the future--and not just within the pages on the shelves. How to Find Love in a Bookshop is the delightful story of Emilia, the unforgettable cast of customers whose lives she has touched, and the books they all cherish.

From the title, one expects this to be about finding love in a bookshop. That was something that happened. Emilia's father fell in love twice in a bookshop. The bookshop may be what brings romance into Emilia's life as well, but it was also about how a bookshop can touch our lives.

Early on, Emilia's father talks about how a bookshop is the heart of a town, and Nightingale Books truly filled that role. We see this though several different storylines involving different members of the community where the common thread was the bookshop. I loved how it tied everyone together and was a place of solace and joy, as well as a safe harbor.

As it seems to be the way of all stories involving bookshops, Emilia needed to save the shop. This was no easy task, but it really bought the community together. I felt like it was the ending that put this one over the top for me. Henry gave all these characters I had grown to care for great endings. My heart was absolutely filled to bursting at the end from glee and all the fabulous bookish things included in the story.

Have you ever preformed Shakespeare?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. I'm glad you enjoyed these so much! Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. How to Find Love in a Bookshop sounds so good! Glad you enjoyed both of these.

    1. It was a sweet story. Loved seeing how important this bookshop was in the community

  3. Endings can really make a story shine. How to Find Love in a Bookshop sounds like something I'd enjoy.

    1. The ending was the best! It definitely put that one up a notch for me.

  4. I love books about bookshop and how they touch our lives!