Saturday, June 10, 2023

In a Nutshell Reviews

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

Twice in a Lifetime
 by Melissa Baron
Published by Alcove Press on December 6, 2022
Age/Genres: Enchanted Realism, Romance

The Time Traveler's Wife meets Oona Out of Order in this imaginative and moving debut novel of a love more powerful than time.

Isla has fled the city for small-town Missouri in the wake of a painful and exhausting year. With her chronic anxiety at a fever pitch, the last thing she expects is to meet a genuine romantic prospect. And she doesn’t. But she does get a text from a man who seems to think he’s her husband. Obviously, a wrong number—except when she points this out, the mystery texter sends back a picture. Of them—on their wedding day.

Isla cautiously starts up a texting relationship with her maybe-hoax, maybe-husband Ewan, who claims to be reaching out from a few years into the future. Ewan knows Isla incredibly well, and seems to love her exactly as she is, which she can hardly fathom. But he’s also grieving, because in the future, he and Isla are no longer together.

Ewan is texting back through time to save her from a fate he is unwilling to share—and all she can do to prevent that fate is to learn to be happy, now, in the body she has, with the mind she has. The only trouble is the steps she takes in that direction might be steps away from a future with Ewan.

Melissa Baron’s time-crossed romance features a quintessentially endearing and brave protagonist, and an engrossing plot that will keep you turning pages until its breathtaking finish.

Wow! This one really put me through the wringer. I loved the idea of Isla communicating with her husband who was from the future, and after seeing how precious they were together, I wanted him to help change her future. We all know how changing something in the past alters the future, and that was one of the problems with this plan. But Ewan and Isla fiercely wanted to find their way back to each other, and they were willing to really go the distance to make it happen.

Isla’s battle with mental illness was a huge part of this story, and I thought Barton handled it with great care. Though this book was a lot heavier than I expected, but the love between Ewan and Isla that kept me reading. It was of paramount importance that they find a reality where they could grow old together. There were so many tears, but also an abundance of heart explosions. This was a hard book to review because I didn’t want to reveal too much, but I can promise a multitude of feels and surprises.

Ms. Demeanor
 by Elinor Lipman
Published by Harper Perennial on January 10, 2023
Age/Genres: Contemporary, Fiction

From one of America's most beloved contemporary novelists, a delicious and witty story about love under house arrest

Jane Morgan is a valued member of her law firm--or was, until a prudish neighbor, binoculars poised, observes her having sex on the roof of her NYC apartment building. Police are summoned, and a punishing judge sentences her to six months of home confinement. With Jane now jobless and rootless, trapped at home, life looks bleak. Yes, her twin sister provides support and advice, but mostly of the unwelcome kind. When a doorman lets slip that Jane isn't the only resident wearing an ankle monitor, she strikes up a friendship with fellow white-collar felon Perry Salisbury. As she tries to adapt to life within her apartment walls, she discovers she hasn't heard the end of that tattletale neighbor--whose past isn't as decorous as her 9-1-1 snitching would suggest. Why are police knocking on Jane's door again? Can her house arrest have a silver lining? Can two wrongs make a right?

What does a high powered lawyer do when she is on house arrest? Lots of things, like starting a social media channel dedicated to making food from extremely old cookbooks, or plotting revenge on the nosey neighbor who get her put in home confinement. She may also discover another neighbor wearing an ankle monitor and agree to a business arrangement of sorts. These are just a handful of things Jane did to pass the time and amuse me.

I loved the premise of a lawyer put on house arrest for, ahem, indecent exposure. There was plenty of social commentary subtly woven into this lighthearted story that was packed with quirky characters, humor, over the top antics, and some romance too. The romantic subplot was probably my favorite part (not shocking to anyone who knows me). It was fun seeing the relationship between two people on home confinement turn into something so sweet and real. They were a great pair.

Overall, I enjoyed my first Lipman book and look forward to reading from her backlist.

Who would you want to contact if you had a magic phone?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. I love time travel and alternate realities so that first one definitely appeals to me!

    1. This had a bit of a Lake House feel, and I thought the author used the future self interactions well. It definitely created quite a bit of tension for me.

  2. I am not sure if I am ready for a book with mental illness right now but that one seemed to have really moved you Sam!

  3. I love a good marriage in crisis book, especially when they manage to put things back together! Ms. Demeanor sounds like a hoot! I think I'd enjoy both of these books!

  4. I'm happy to see your review of Twice in a Lifetime because it's been on my TBR for quite a while. Actually, my library keeps coming up and I keep pushing it back. For some reason, every time I get notified I feel like I'm not in the mood for it. Reading your review reminds me of why I wanted to read it. :)

    1. It's a book I didn't really see much buzz for, but my library had it, and I enjoyed it. It deals with some weighty matters, but it's done well. It never felt like "too much" for me