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Lost In Pages: Book Reflections May 2024 – Second Chances and Parallel Lives

Lost in Pages May 2024

My book reflections May 2024 have a common theme: Second Chances, infused with a lot of magic, alternate universes and realities.
I’m in love…with all the books I’ve read in May because they have opened me up to other worlds and moved me in ways I haven’t expected.

My dear friend Fiona, aka Fee, said it so perfectly: I “love how with novels it’s like we are swept up into a new world, but also the characters travel with us, like friends sitting down with me for a picnic.”

And I want to quote January Andrews, the main character in Beach Read by Emily Henry:
“Here’s the thing about writing Happily Ever Afters: it helps if you believe in them.”

Book Reflections May 2024
One of my bookshelves: my easel bookshelf.
Years ago I found an old easel and I saw it on my wall showcasing books. I had a vision and made it real soon after.


(first published: April 2, 2024; Publisher: Forever; 432 pages, Paperback; Book series: Part of Your World #3)

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
(read book: May 4, 2024)

Hand holds a book by Abby Jimenez with the title: 'Just for the summer'; the book cover is a beautiful artwork showing a couple happily running in the low water of a lake, followed by a dog; the sun is setting behind the mountains.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this novel gets multiple of awards. It’s a masterpiece!
The moment I started reading it I was hooked. I especially loved the alternating perspectives between the two main characters, Emma and Justin, it just made it so much more engaging.

Emma and Justin & Their Fake Relationship

Justin thinks he’s cursed because each woman he dates miraculously finds her soul mate right after they part ways. He must be so fed up with it that he somehow feels the need to make this public and publishes a very funny post on Reddit where it soon goes viral.
Emma, a traveling nurse, reads his post and can’t help but identify so much with Justin, despite it being such a funny story.
She’s experiencing the same dilemma as all the people she’s dating somehow end up with their perfect match after they split.

Emma finds Justin’s story quite intriguing and his humor quite attractive, and with a little push from her best friend she messages him on Reddit.
And…he responds.
And they hit it off right from the start – as allies…

They devise a plan: to date, break up, and nullify each other’s curses.
Brilliant idea. If they only knew … This wild idea just might have a chance of succeeding but maybe not in a way they anticipate.

Being so intrigued, Emma, unexpectedly assigns as a traveling nurse in Minnesota, and seizes the opportunity to fake-date Justin, and with her best friend, she rents a charming cottage on a private island on Lake Minnetonka.

Justin and Emma make it clear from the very start that this is about to last just for the summer.
Well, again if they only knew!
As the summer days stretch out, Emma and Justin find themselves growing closer, the lines between their fake relationship and real emotions blurring more each day.

Justin, who is used to being the perpetual stepping stone for others’ happiness, begins to see a future where he isn’t just a footnote in someone else’s love story. Emma, on the other hand, starts envisioning a life that isn’t overshadowed by her mother’s toxic presence. They both realize that for the first time in a long while, they aren’t just surviving—they are living.

The Trope of a Faked Relationship

The trope of fake relationships is a bit overused in my opinion. I see it so often; and it’s interesting why it attracts so many readers, including myself. Don’t get me wrong I myself love it too. But I wonder why there’s such a hype around it. Perhaps it’s the allure of seeing two characters navigate the complexities of pretending to be in love, only to discover real feelings along the way.

I can see how this trope often brings a mix of humor, tension, and heartfelt moments, making it a rollercoaster of emotions that many readers find irresistible. Additionally, fake relationships often provide a safe space for characters to confront their fears and insecurities, leading them to personal growth and deeper connections. I can imagine it’s a narrative that resonates with the hope that love can blossom in the most unexpected places.

And that feels good, right? Because it offers a comforting sense of predictability and the promise of a happy ending. And who doesn’t want that?! There’s something very soothing about it.
But that’s just my personal take on the trope of fake relationships. 😉

And in Just For The Summer Jimenez takes the fake relationship trope to a whole different and exciting level.

The Characters & the Setting

Each chapter revealed new layers to their personalities and motivations, drawing me deeper into their world. And that’s exactly what makes an author a good author.
Emma’s resilience and determination shone brightly, while Justin’s introspective nature offered a subtle counterbalance, adding depth to their (fake) relationship.

I often times wanted to shake Emma and scream at her to f***ing let down her guards and stop being so annoyingly stubborn and rigid.
I got sometimes so frustrated with her character to be honest, but I think that is what made the story so much richer and captivating, and so involving.
But I also felt so much for her and my heart was breaking for her every single time her toxic mother came into the scene.

I love Abby Jimenez’s depiction of Emma’s connection with her mother. Through Emma’s character, the novel explores how her mother’s past actions have influenced and molded her. Tragically so.
The reader gains a deep understanding of Emma’s guarded nature, and her reluctance to let others in except for her best friend. It highlights the profound impact of childhood trauma on someone with such narcissistic and toxic parents, and how it leads them to sabotage relationships and their overall well-being in their adult life. The portrayal of how she’s always out for an escape as soon things get too intimate is striking.

Emma’s and Justin’s interactions were both touching and realistic, and became even more interesting as they grew closer together; filled with moments of tenderness, conflict, and growth. A lot of growth!

The setting of the story added another layer of richness, with vivid descriptions of their surroundings that made the scenes come alive. Whether it was a bustling cityscape or a serene countryside (island life), I felt like I was right there with them, experiencing every moment. I want to travel there.

The plot twists were cleverly woven into the narrative, keeping me on the edge of my seat (or couch 😉) and eager to find out what would happen next. The Jimenez’s skillful use of foreshadowing and suspense ensured that each revelation was both surprising and satisfying, making the story an unforgettable journey. And trust me, I was laughing, sobbing, and ugly crying throughout the entire book.

By the time I reached the final page, I felt a deep connection to Emma and Justin, as if they were old friends. And I experienced so much emotional release and relief, it’s almost unreal.
Their journey of self-discovery, love, and resilience left a lasting impact on me, and the themes explored in the story resonated long after I had finished reading.

Just For The Summer was not just a fleeting escape but a truly profound experience that touched my heart and mind in ways that I can’t even fathom; and it healed certain aspects of myself because I was exploring deep seeded emotions within myself. Sometimes we’re not aware of what we’re not aware of. 😉
I look forward to reading more from Abby Jimenez, because now I got hooked. She’s got a remarkable gift for storytelling and character development. Absolutely admiring!

About Abby Jimenez

Abby Jimenez is a New York Times bestselling author and Food Network champion living in Minnesota. Abby founded Nadia Cakes out of her home kitchen back in 2007. The bakery has since gone on to win numerous Food Network competitions and has amassed an international following. Abby loves a good romance, coffee, doglets, and not leaving the house.” (Source: Abby Jimenez’s Website)

Some of my favorite Quotes from the Book

“In a world where you can choose anger or empathy, always choose empathy.”

“Not everything that comes out of crisis is bad. Sometimes your traumas are the reason you know how to help.”

“Unhealed trauma is a crack. And all the little hard things that trickle into it that would have rolled off someone else, settle. Then when life gets cold, that crack gets bigger, longer, deeper. It makes new breaks. You don’t know how broken she was or what she was trying to do to fill those cracks.
Being broken is not an excuse for bad behavior, you still have to make good choices and do the right thing. But it can be the reason. And sometimes understanding the reason can be what helps you heal.”

“Maybe home isn’t a place. Maybe it’s a person.”

“Because when you’re in love, you do hard things.”

“I’ve been waiting my whole life to feel like this and I thought it was a curse that nobody else ever worked out. But it wasn’t. It’s just that they weren’t you.”

“To me, love meant you stayed. But now I understood that love sometimes means you let someone go.”

“Sometimes the best way to show love or be kind to someone is to meet them where they are.”

“You are not what happened to you. You are what you do next.”

“Unhealed trauma is a crack. And all the little hard things that trickle into it that would have rolled off someone else, settle. Then when life gets cold, that crack gets bigger, longer, deeper. It makes new breaks. You don’t know how broken she was or what she was trying to do to fill those cracks. Being broken is not an excuse for bad behavior, you still have to make good choices and do the right thing. But it can be the reason. And sometimes understanding the reason can be what helps you heal.”

“Not everything that comes out of crisis is bad. Sometimes your traumas are the reason you know how to help.”

“Maybe home isn’t a place. Maybe it’s a person.”

“I’ve been waiting my whole life to feel like this and I thought it was a curse that nobody else ever worked out. But it wasn’t. It’s just that they weren’t you.”

“You don’t have to forgive her. You really don’t. You can still love someone that you’ve decided not to speak to anymore. You can still wish them well and hope for the best for them. Choosing a life without them doesn’t mean you stop caring about them.
It just means that you can’t allow them to harm you anymore. But if you don’t think your life would be better without them in it, then accept that they have cracks. Try to understand how they got them and help fill them with something that isn’t ice.” She peered at me. “If you can choose anger or empathy, always choose empathy, Justin. It’s so much healthier than anger. For both of you.”

“We do not go out of our way for men. We do not inconvenience ourselves for men, we do not change our well-laid plans for men.”

“I think you went through something horrible and that’s who you needed to become to get through it.”


(first published: April 9, 2024; Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; Pages: 384, Paperback;
a Reese’s Book Club Pick: May 2024)

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
(read book: May 7, 2024)

Female hand holds a book by Yulin Kuang with the title: 'How to end a love story', the color of the book is covered by pink-red shades.

What can I say? – This one was a total surprise in the best way possible! How To End A Love Story has quickly become one of my top romance reads this year. Trusting my instincts pays off!!!
Back in April, I stumbled upon How To End A Love Story in the bookstore, feeling really drawn to it; I flirted with the idea of reading it but then opted for other books instead. However, when Reese Witherspoon revealed it as the book of the month for May 2024, I took it as a sign. And I have no regrets! AT ALL! I absolutely adored this book – it captured my heart completely! Like wholly and fully! It’s a Love Story!

Helen and Grant – When the Present outweighs the Past

Helen Zhang and Grant Shepard have not crossed paths in thirteen years since a tragic event forever linked their lives.

She’s a successful author who dedicates herself to her work, and with her popular young adult novels being up for a TV adaption, she travels to L.A. to be part of the writers’ room for the TV adaptation. If she can conquer her impostor syndrome and overcome her writer’s block, she believes her life will fall into place. Los Angeles offers her the fresh start she craves, where she can remain anonymous. However, there’s one exception…

Grant, a screenwriter, is part of the writer’s room. After all those years they meet.
Although he knows working on Helen’s show may not be the best idea, the opportunity to advance his own projects is too tempting to resist.
And this is where both of them get the chance to start writing a new story. Their story!

As time goes by, more and more details and secrets are being revealed.

Will Helen let her walls down and will she let Grant in?

Do they both take the opportunity and overcome their shared past, giving them a second chance?

Important to know: This book addresses the subject of suicide.

Introducing Yulin Kuang

Yulin Kuang is a screenwriter and director, whose credits include The CW’s I Ship It and Hulu’s Dollface. She was once fired from a Hallmark movie for being ‘too hip for Hallmark’ and is the adapting screenwriter of Emily Henry’s People We Meet On Vacation, as well as the writer/director of the forthcoming Beach Read film for 20th Century Studios. Yulin’s own debut novel, How to End a Love Story, has been featured on Vogue, Elle, People Magazine, NPR, and more.

She is a graduate of Carnegie Mellon University, and is repped by UTA, Kaplan/Perrone, and Root Literary.”

Some of my favorite Quotes from the Book

“She’s made only the barest of attempts at dating in L.A.––frankly she finds the game of swiping and messaging and flirting to be somehow both tedious and embarrassing. There shouldn’t be a written record of her rough-draft attempts at dating.”

“You don’t have to be completely healed to be everything I want. To be mine. I want every part of you, you silly infuriating woman. I love the parts of you I haven’t even met yet.”

““You’re my favorite thing to look at in the room.“”

“[…] it’s ridiculous, the buzzing thrill that shoots through her when she sees his name on the screen.”

“He keeps drawing a slow circle around her ankle bone, unwilling to break contact completely––he feels like he’s just started a new favorite book and he can’t put it down or he’ll lose his place.”

“You could keep me your dirty little secret, come to me tasting like other men, I’d still take you back every fucking time,” he says, a muscle ticking violently in his jaw. “I’d rather have a fraction of you than all of someone else.”

““Sometimes I miss you when you’re right in front of me.” she says as he nudges her cheek with is nose. “Isn’t that weird?“”

“He takes a step forward and her world seems to tilt on its axis. ”I want all of it this time,” Grant says, his voice harsh and impossibly close. ”I want the nights and the days and the weekends and the holidays and I want you at my side and in my bed and in my life. […] I want to see what kind of person you are when you’re eighty. I want to do this for real, and I want to call you mine so badly it’s a fucking joke, but if you can’t sign up for the whole show this time, then don’t––””

HONEY & SPICE by Bolu Babalola

(first published: July 5, 2022; Publisher: William Morrow; 448 pages [Paperback];
a Reese’s Book Club Pick: July 2022; British Book Award Nominee for Début Fiction 2023)

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐ (3.5)
(read book: May 12, 2024)

Book titled "Honey & Spice"; red cover and showing a young black couple

My honest take on it

If I’m being completely honest, while the novel was interesting and enjoyable, it didn’t quite capture my heart. I know, I know, I’m so sorry to say this but it’s true.
I had high expectations for it, considering Babalola’s impressive writing skills. Despite its quality, Honey & Spice didn’t leave me completely enchanted. Still, I enjoyed it.

But as I delved into the book, I found myself wondering if it fell into the young adult (YA) fiction category. To my surprise, it wasn’t classified as such. At 39 years old, I do indulge in YA fiction occasionally, like Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood. However, the dialogue in Honey & Spice didn’t really resonate with me.

The dialogue’s pace sometimes threw me off, and the abundance of youthful drama didn’t align with my current interests; I’m actually pretty much over that kind of stuff. And that is what made it challenging for me to fully immerse myself in the story, especially since I’ve outgrown that phase. It still puzzles me that the book wasn’t categorized as YA.

Feeling a bit disappointed, I found myself checking how many pages remained, a clear sign that the novel didn’t fully engage me. With 448 pages, the plot felt prolonged for my taste. But, of course, this is just my personal take on it; and there were chapters that I actually did pretty much enjoy.

I, however, truly appreciated the smart and lively pace. Kiki’s humor and candidness resonated with me, making the reading experience quite delightful. You can see that I’m a bit conflicted because again it was a good read, don’t get me wrong.

And I again must commend Babalola’s exceptional writing skills; there’s a captivating passion and energy, a certain drive and thirst, in the way she crafts her storylines that leaves me eager to explore more of her writing. I’m quite excited to check out Love in Colour.

The Plot

This novel follows the story of Kiki Banjo, a young Black British woman, who, despite her disinterest in love, finds herself entangled in a fake relationship with Malakai Korede, the man she cautioned her her radio show audience about.

Kiki is known for her sharp tongue and hidden soft side. She faces a significant blunder. Despite her expertise in avoiding relationships and hosting the popular student radio show Brown Sugar, she accidentally kisses Malakai Korede, the man she publicly criticized as “The Wastemen of Whitewell,” putting her show in jeopardy.

To salvage their reputations and futures, they concoct a fake relationship. Kiki, who has never let anyone into her heart, remains adamant against Malakai’s charms and their undeniable chemistry. However, as they share study sessions and heartfelt conversations at diners, Kiki begins to question her assumptions.

Will Kiki be willing to explore deeper emotions and let her guard down?

Female Friendships under the Microscope

What I truly adore about Honey & Spice is not only the romantic relationship that is unfolding between Kiki and Malakai with all its twists and turns, but it also delves into Kiki’s relationships with other women, showing how her past traumas and hurts have made her hesitant to form close bonds, except for her friendship with Aminah. Throughout the narrative, Kiki discovers how to set aside her preconceptions about other women and takes a chance on forming connections with them.

Kiki begins to see the power of sisterhood and how it can empower her to heal and grow. The novel paints a poignant picture of resilience and the importance of building meaningful relationships beyond romantic love; something that I really appreciate.
Honey & Spice invites us to reflect on our own connections with others and the beauty that can blossom when walls are broken down and hearts are opened; it teaches us about the power of forgiveness and reconciliation.

About the Bolu Babalola

Honey & Spice was Babalola’s debut novel. She “is the author of the Sunday Times best-selling and Waterstones Book of the Year shortlisted collection Love In Colour,” which was published in 2020. “In 2016, she was shortlisted in the 4th Estate’s B4ME competition for her short story Netflix & Chill and she has worked as a writer for books, TV, press and as a cultural commentator.”

Some of my favorite Quotes from the Book

“Kiki, it’s not arrogant to know what you’re good at. It’s arrogant to think you don’t need to grow.”

“You’re the only guy that’s ever held my hand without the intention of getting something from me. You just hold my hand to hold it. To hold me. Like you like doing it or something.”

“What if the butterflies flew too close to the edge of my stomach, so he could see the imprints of their wings pressed up against my skin?”

”Our breathing became even more erratic, Malakai’s eyes a hypnotic blackhole that held my deepest, most desperate desires. His touch made a home in me.”

”I missed the fact that I felt like I had my own personal sun when he looked at me.”

”And I figured … that’s why people do it, right? Be vulnerable and shit. Because they want to be close to the person who makes it worth it. It’s about connecting with someone who makes you want to try. And she made –– makes me want to try.”

”There’s a whole universe in her and I would be so lucky to live in it, explore it. Over and over.”

”That’s how I feel when I look at her. She’s the perfect shot. And the perfect shot isn’t about something being flawless, it’s about the truth to me. Clarity. The world is doable when she is near me.”

”His heat melted into my heat and created an alchemy that metamorphosed the butterflies into a bird of paradise, and I was taking flight with it. This kiss, this this, this us, tasted like indulgence and sustenance. Our tongues moved like we were each other’s rice and wine, twirled with the ease of drunken, fed hips. In the kiss, I tasted him and I tasted me and I tasted what we were and what we could be. It tasted like hones and spice, twined.”

Sticky notes tower made of books. So I don’t forget the most inspiring paragraphs and quotes of each read.

BEACH READ by Emily Henry

(first published: May 19, 2020; Publisher: Penguin; 368 pages [Paperback];
ranked second place with 60,124 votes in the Romance category at the Goodreads Choice Award 2020)

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐ (4.7)
(read book: May 17, 2024)

Two Writers, One Summer, One Romance

(little spoilers included 😉)

January Andrews is a renowned romance writer who has lost faith in love, which is quite tricky when your job depends on writing happy ending love stories.
As the deadline for her new book manuscript approaches, January finds herself yet to begin writing.

When January arrives at her father’s beach house which she has inherited, she’s being confronted with her unprocessed grief, feelings of betrayal, and an old nemesis from college as her neighbor.
Augustus Everett is an esteemed literary author who grapples with a creative block.

Despite their differences, the two writers share a predicament: they are both struggling with writer’s block, living as neighbors in beach houses, and facing financial difficulties.

As the summer unfolds, January and Augustus dive headfirst into their unconventional experiment. Augustus will attempt to write something uplifting, while January will tackle the task of crafting the next Great American Novel.
January takes Augustus to a series of whimsical dates designed to ignite his sense of romance and wonder. Meanwhile, Augustus immerses January in his world of gritty realism.

As they navigate their respective challenges, January and Augustus find themselves opening up to each other in unexpected ways. Late-night writing sessions turn into heartfelt conversations about their pasts, their fears, and their dreams. The lines between their professional collaboration and personal connection blur, and the tension between their growing attraction and their professional pact adds a layer of complexity to their journey.

In their quest to conquer writer’s block, January and Augustus not only rediscover their passion for storytelling but also learn that sometimes, the most unexpected collaborations can lead to the most profound transformations. As the summer days come to an end, they are faced with the ultimate question: can they achieve their creative goals without losing their hearts in the process?

Personal Note

To be quite frank –– and I have to say it –– I found the excessive alcohol consumption by the main characters quite disconcerting after a while. It seemed as if they both have some issues with alcohol and could have benefited from therapy. I questioned the necessity of portraying them drinking so much, as there could have been alternative approaches.

But maybe that was all part of the story. But to me it felt off. This aspect influenced my decision not to give Beach Read a full 5-star rating, as it felt like the promotion of drinking so much alcohol and making it seem okay was unnecessary in my opinion.

A beautiful Romance

(a little spoiler ahead 😉)

Nevertheless, I adored the development of the love story between ‘Gus’ and January. The plot twist where January learns to love again while dealing with grief and forgiving her father was particularly captivating, and made me sob like big time.
The letters will pull the strings of your heart, too, I’m sure of it!

Woman with brunette hair lying on a sofa and holding a book titled "Beach Read"in her left hand.

Emily Henry is the #1 New York Times best-selling author of Beach Read, You and Me on Vacation (People We Meet on Vacation), Book Lovers, Happy Place, and Funny Story.

Beach Read as well as Book Lovers will be adapted into a movie by Yulin Kuang. I cannot wait for that. It’s promising, since I love both Henry, the author, and Kuang, the screenwriter and author. A match made in heaven, I’d say. It can’t be anything but exceptionally fantastic.

Some of my favorite Quotes from the Book

“If you think the story has a sad ending, it’s because it’s not over yet.”

“You know that feeling, when you’re watching someone sleep and you feel overwhelmed with joy that they exist?”

“That’s the key to marriage. You have to keep falling in love with every new version of each other, and it’s the best feeling in the whole world.”

“Sometimes life is very hard. Sometimes it demands so much of you that you start losing pieces of yourself as you stretch out to give what the world wants to take.”

“That is how life feels too often. Like you’re doing everything you can to survive only to be sabotaged by something beyond your control, maybe even some darker part of yourself.”

“Gus touched the side of my face. “I don’t need snowflakes.” He kissed me. “As long as I have January.”

THE SEVEN YEAR SLIP by Ashley Poston

(first published: June 27, 2023; Publisher: Berkley; 352 pages, Paperback;
ranked 9th with 30,820 votes in the Romance category at the 2023 Goodreads Choice Awards)

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
(read book: May 19, 2024)

A hand holding an orange-colored book titled: 'The Seven Year Slip' by Ashley Poston, The title's font is big and white, in good contrast  to the orange-yellow background.

In my honest opinion, this should have been the winner of the Goodreads Choice Award in the category Romance and Fiction. It’s been one of my favorite reads. I want to give it more than five stars for the romance, the magic, and for the celebration of and love for delicious food. AND: I love the lemon theme that is woven into the story.

Yes, the other ones are absolutely amazing and they, too, deserve to be the award winner, but this novel, I don’t know, was something else. It’s a must read for everyone who believes in love and in the mystical. I love romance paired with magical realism. I find these novels most enchanting and captivating.

I want to tell you something; it has nothing to do with the book, well, it kind of does. Ever since I was a child I’ve been fascinated by the concept of time and how time can bend. I have had some very surreal experiences myself where I seemed to be in alternate timelines. As children, we are more open to those possibilities; we’re still more connected to source, and less infiltrated by the 3-D human experience.

And I think that’s why I love this novel so much. It reminds me of the magic that exists when we look beyond the veil of our programmed perception.
I simply flew over the pages of the book. It deeply resonated with me.

It touched a deeper part of me that has been so thirsty for magick, for the mystical. I’m so glad I trusted my intuition at the bookstore when the cover of this book drew me into its realm.

Books really do speak.

Love that conquers Time and Space.

Clementine West falls in love with a man that lives seven years in the past.

The apartment she inherited from her beloved aunt is not an ordinary apartment. Her aunt used to share captivating stories and memories associated with this special place. But now, with that stranger from the past in her kitchen, Clementine is beginning to believe that those stories were indeed true. How can that be?

Iwan, an aspiring chef, and Clementine, or as he lovingly calls her Lemon, begin to form an unusual friendship over delectable lemon pie and other tasty dishes that Iwan cooks for them. Their connection deepens, leading to them falling in love. But soon this new development starts to unsettle Clementine, causing her to reevaluate her career and life goals.

She had guarded her heart from potential pain for years, not letting any man into her heart; she diligently pursued her career, convinced that it was what she desired. But now, with Iwan’s presence in her life, everything she once thought she desired is now under scrutiny. His presence brings a warmth that she hadn’t realized was missing, and his laughter fills the empty spaces in her heart. The more time they spend together, the more she realizes that her career, while fulfilling, isn’t the entirety of who she is or what she needs.

In matters of the heart, timing outweighs time itself. It’s a novel about magic, love, and second chances!

Jumping between the Present and the Past

I love how the chapters transition between the present and seven years in the past, gradually unveiling intricate details that add to the allure of the story. It’s a smart structure that keeps the reader engaged as the puzzle pieces are slowly coming together, with some expected and unexpected twists and turns.
Personally, I was completely spellbound by this book. I found it impossible to stop reading; my emotions were running high as I cried and laughed my way through it. It’s a deeply touching love story that will tug at your heartstrings in a significant way.

Please, read this book! And thank me later. 😉

About Ashley Poston

Ashley Poston is a #1 New York Times and USA Today best-selling novelist of The Dead Romantics, The Seven Year Slip, and her new book A Novel Love Story coming out in June 2024.
“Her young adult novels have been nominated for the Indie Next List, the Goodreads Choice Awards, and have been featured in countless articles and recommended reading lists.
When not writing, she likes to go on adventures with her three cats—Moose, Muppet, and Beanie, tend to her perpetually-dying flower garden, and play tabletop games. She lives in a small grey house in South Carolina with too many pothos plants and never enough coffee.”

Some of my favorite Quotes from the Book.

“Nothing lasts forever. Not the good things, not the bad. So just find what makes you happy, and do it for as long as you can.”

“You never commit a mundane moment to memory, thinking it’ll be the last time you’ll hear their voice, or see their smile, or smell their perfume. Your head never remembers the things your heart wants to in hindsight.”

“‘No, no, it’s fine. You asked what makes a meal perfect. It’s this. Food’––he mentioned to our almost empty plates––’It’s a work of art. That’s what a perfect meal is––something you don’t just eat, but something you enjoy. With friends, and family––maybe even with strangers. It’s an experience. You taste it, you savor it, you feel the story told through the intricate flavors that play out across your tongue … it’s magical. Romantic.'”

“You can say things with food that you can’t quite with words sometimes.”

“Romance wasn’t in chocolate, it was in the gap of breath as we came up for air. It was in the way a cradled my face, the way I traced my finger over the crescent-shaped birthmark on his collarbone. It was in the way he muttered how beautiful I was, the way it made my heart soar. It was in the way I wanted to know everything about him––his favorite songs, finally guess his favorite color.”

“Isn’t it strange how the world works sometimes? It’s never a matter of time, but a matter of timing.”

“You are who you are, and you like what you like. You are you, and that’s a lovely person to be.”

“I didn’t find out who I wanted to be until I was almost 40. You have to try on a lot of shoes until you find some you like walking in. Never apologize for that.”

a hand is holding 5 books. These are all romance novels.
The initial five books of the month. My heart is filled with joy…
Each book carries its own enchanting magic. They transport us to captivating and heartwarming worlds.

MEET ME AT THE LAKE by Carley Fortune

(First published May 2, 2023; Publisher: Viking; 336 pages, Paperback;
Nominee of the Goodreads Choice Award  for Best Romance 2023)

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
(read book: May 23, 2024)

A hand is holding up a book in pink colored shades titled: 'Meet Me at the Lake' by the author Carley Fortune. It further shows a couple, sitting on the dock at a lake watching the sunrise.

My heart! Oh yes, kayaks, Canada, lodges, and romance, plus the love for food! Definitely my type of novel. And yes, books speak wth another, I’m sure of it. Because how is it possible that this book also makes the lemon theme an important aspect of the narrative, such as in ‘The Seven Year Slip’? Like for real!

This was such an amazing, heart-wrenching, captivating read; it made me flow over the pages in no time, totally captivated by the magic Carley Fortune created. I was deeply engaged in the story and rooting for the main characters. Second chances vibes in this one!

Sometimes people just meet at the wrong time, or let me put it differently: they were meant to meet to enter each other’s lives and plant the seeds for what’s about to come only many years later in the future. But of course they don’t know it.

Love is not enough in a relationship.
People meet, and they fall in love, they have that inexplicable connection where everything appears flawless, but yet sometimes there are significant discrepancies: personal dilemmas, job changes leading to relocation, commitment fears, or personal insecurities hindering trust. Timing plays a crucial role as well.
There are all sorts of reasons why people who seem to be meant for each other don’t work out.
I love how the concept of timing that we explored in “The Seven Year Slip,” resurfaces in this novel, only slightly different and not through a magical time-travel apartment.
Time matters, and the right place matters, too.

The Love Story of Fern Brookbanks and Will Baxter

Ten years ago in Toronto, Fern, who was working at a coffeeshop at the time, met artist Will. Will, the same age as Fern, was completing a mural for the coffeeshop. Finding themselves alone, they began chatting. Instantly hitting it off, they shared dreams and secrets, forming a strong bond. After finishing the painting, Will suggested showing Fern parts of Toronto she hadn’t seen yet, as she would soon be leaving the city to return to Muskoka. Despite not wanting to leave, Fern had promised her mother she would go back to the family’s resort to work and had a boyfriend waiting for her there.

Fern and Will spent a memorable day together; forming a unique connection and falling in love. They planned to reunite at the Muskoka lake after a year, but Will never showed up, leaving Fern heartbroken for years.
Now at thirty-two, 10 years later after they first met, Fern’s reality is far from what she had envisioned. Instead of city life, she finds herself back at her mother’s Muskoka lakeside resort, a role she had sworn to avoid. The resort is in disarray, managed by her ex-boyfriend, leaving Fern feeling lost; and also in deep grief over her mother who was killed in a car accident 6 weeks ago.

In need of a lifeline, Fern is surprised when Will reappears after all those years, offering his help and support. Will’s arrival brings a sense of familiarity, yet Fern struggles to trust this polished version of the person she once knew. Will is keeping secrets, leaving Fern uncertain about building something new.

What is Will hiding? And why didn’t he show up nine years ago? Do they get a second chance?

You will find out when you get yourself a copy. Oh, I think Carley Fortune has become one of my favorite authors. I’m such an admirer of her writing style and how she weaves stories together that stir feelings deep within you.

I’m so fond of the way the book shifts between the present and June 14, a decade ago, offering the reader a distinctive and vivid portrayal of their love story. Each chapter gradually unveils crucial details that bring it all together, which makes engaging in this narrative so exciting.

Just what my heart needed. Thank you, Carley Fortune!

About Carley Fortune

Carley Fortune is the #1 New York Times and #1 Globe and Mail bestselling author of This Summer Will Be Different, Meet Me at the Lake and Every Summer After. Her books have sold more than one-million copies worldwide.

Carley is an award-winning journalist and worked as an editor at some of Canada’s top publications, including The Globe and Mail, Chatelaine, Toronto Life, and the much-beloved, now-defunct weekly paper, The Grid. She was most recently the Executive Editor of Refinery29 Canada. Carley holds a Bachelor of Journalism from Toronto Metropolitan University. 

Carley spent her young life in the suburbs of Sydney, Australia, and in Barry’s Bay, a tiny lakeside town in rural Ontario and the setting for Every Summer After

She lives in Toronto with her husband and two sons, and is currently working on her fourth book.”

Some of my favorite Quotes from the Book

“One great thing about meeting someone you’ll likely never see again is that you can tell them anything about yourself without any consequence.”

“It’s not every day you decide to change your entire life.”

“You’re not an escape. You’re everything.”

“Let me tell you something about me: I am extremely picky about people. Most of them, I don’t particularly like. I have very high standards for the ones I let into my life these days. And you, Will Baxter, are my favorite of all of them.”

“I want him to be okay. I want us to be okay. I want more than okay. The reality of what I want with Will crashes into me with such a force I have to sit down.”

“It was my mom who saved my life, but it was Will who helped me figure out how to make it my own.”


(first published: August 13, 2020; Publisher: Viking; 288 pages, International Edition, Paperback;
Winner of the Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction 2020)

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
(read book: May 26, 2024)

a hand is holding a blue book titled: 'Midnight Library' by the author Matt Haig,

At first, I wanted to feature female authors exclusively on this blog, after numerous recommendations and widespread acclaim for Matt Haig’s book, The Midnight Library, I was really intrigued; and well, loosened up my own “rules” a little. So, despite Lost In Pages being devoted to female writers only, I occasionally make exceptions like this one. And gosh, what can I say?!
I loved it.

Nora and the Midnight Library

After many “attemps” at doing life, battling clinical depression, grieving the loss of her father, mother, and now cat, and after losing both of her jobs, Nora Seed is done, she decides to end her life.
But in the space between life and death lies a library known as the Midnight Library. And a transformative journey is on the horizon.
Is there such a thing as a second chance at life?

Nora, upon entering this mystical library, is presented with a chance to set things right.
To her surprise, the familiar face of Mrs Elm, the beloved high school librarian, awaits her. How did she end up here? Mrs Elm seems to have an in-depth knowledge of the endless rows of books in the Midnight Library.

Within the Midnight Library’s books, Mrs Elm shows Nora the Book of Regrets where she can see how her life has been overshadowed by sorrow and remorse, feeling she has disappointed everyone, herself included.

Nora quickly realizes that this library is no ordinary place. It offers her a chance to explore different paths she could have taken. With the guidance of Mrs Elm, she sets out on a mission to address each regret, striving to achieve her ideal life.

She tastes her life as a rockstar, an Olympian swimmer, a glaciologist, a married woman…at some point she loses track and the reality kicks in: because things don’t always align with her visions, leading to unforeseen consequences that endanger both herself and the library.
As time runs out, Nora is faced with a crucial question: What truly defines a fulfilling existence?

Feeling Lost in Life – There’s Hope

I love how The Midnight Library addresses important topics such as depression, anxiety, addiction, and suicide. There needs to be much, much more open conversation about it. So many people feel lost in their lives, or find themselves battling with anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions; so many feel like a failure, just like Nora does, trying to live up to a certain dream, comparing themselves to others which makes them only feel more miserable.
More people than we think are right now caught in a downward spiral.

Therefore, it’s crucial to remind ourselves and others that everyone’s journey is unique, and that we have these conversations and create more space for people to heal.

I personally think that this book should be part of every school curriculum.
There needs to be an open dialogue in schools, workplaces, and communities where people can seek help and get the tools and support they need to overcome these challenges. Mental health resources, such as counseling and peer support groups, should be readily accessible for everyone no matter someone’s income and social status.
Additionally, sharing stories of overcoming these kinds of life challenges and adversities can inspire and motivate others, creating a ripple effect of positivity, compassion, and understanding.

That’s why I recommend this book to everyone. It takes you on a very personal journey through your own regrets (we all have them). It is a wonderful read that opens our eyes and heart; and makes us ponder.

(If you feel lost in your life or you know someone who does, please seek professional help and support.)

The Chess Analogy

I find the following one of the most powerful analogies in the book; it’s where Mrs Elm and Nora are about to play chess (they used to play chess all the time in the school library way back then) and how it is a game of infinite possibilities.

“‘Look at that chessboard we put back in place,’ said Mrs Elm, softly. Look at how ordered and safe and peaceful it looks now, before a game starts. It’s a beautiful thing. But it is boring. It is dead. And yet the moment you make a move on that board, things change. Things begin to get more chaotic. And that chaos builds with every single move you make.’ […]

‘At the beginning of a game, there are no variations. There’s only one way to set up a board. There are nine million variations after the first six moves. And after eight moves there are two hundred and eighty-eight billion different positions. And those possibilities keep growing. There are more possible ways to play a game of chess than the amount of atoms in the observable universe. So it gets very messy. And there is no right way to play; there are many ways. In chess, as in life, possibility is the basis of everything. Every hope, every dream, every regret, every moment of living.'”

Absolutely beautiful, and eye-opening! It puts things, our problems, challenges into perspective, offering a fresh look at life, and our choices in life.
This is life, it is messy and beautiful all at the same time.
My heart is still full; and I know I will read it again.

About Matt Haig

“Matt Haig is the author of novels such as The Midnight Library, How to Stop Time, The Humans, The Radleys, and the forthcoming The Life Impossible. He has also written books for children, such as A Boy Called Christmas, and the memoir Reasons to Stay Alive.” (Source:

Some of my favorite Quotes from the Book:

“The only way to learn is to live.”

“If you aim to be something you are not, you will always fail. Aim to be you. Aim to look and act and think like you. Aim to be the truest version of you. Embrace that you-ness. Endorse it. Love it. Work hard at it. And don’t give a second thought when people mock it or ridicule it. Most gossip is envy in disguise.”

“Sometimes just to say your own truth out loud is enough to find others like you.”

“It is quite a revelation to discover that the place you wanted to escape to is the exact same place you escaped from. That the prison wasn’t the place, but the perspective.”

“When you stay too long in a place, you forget just how big an expanse the world is. You get no sense of the length of those longitudes and latitudes. Just as, she supposed, it is hard to have a sense of the vastness inside any one person. But once you sense that vastness, once something reveals it, hope emerges, whether you want it to or not, and it clings to you as stubbornly as lichen clings to rock.”

Hand holding two books: the first one is titled "The Midnight Library", the Second book is titled "Meet me At The Lake"; the background is a artistic bookshelf
Awww, absolutely transforming reads. My heart is full. It’s all about second chances, isn’t it?!

MAYBE IN ANOTHER LIFE by Taylor Jenkins Reid

(first published: July 7, 2015; Publisher: Atria Books; 336 pages, Simon and Schuster Paperback)

My rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
(read book: May 28, 2024)

And as fate would have it, I stumbled upon this fantastic read.
And oh wow, I didn’t expect that! And I love that I didn’t expect it! What a triumph! I’m so in love with this novel! Well crafted and truly captivating. Well, I admit that I knew it was about alternate lives, but I was completely surprised by how everything turned out, and how the author managed to bring it all together in a heart-warming way.

I may have said it before: each book I select appears to have a magical link to those I’ve previously read. It’s almost as if they narrate a distinct story, with each book connected in a way, forming a continuation or progression, like another part of a puzzle, a deeply personal message, only meant for me. I feel like I’m continuously getting messages from the universe, guiding me, giving me aha-moments, and many insights that come with a lot of tears and laughter.

Each month has a particular theme it seems, guiding me through deeply personal topics, allowing me to heal and work through things, taking me deeper into my inner emotional landscapes. It’s truly fascinating. I feel like I’m gaining a deeper understanding of myself with each book I’m reading.

And I always go with my intuition and I don’t select books based on their excerpts (although I read them), but on a gut feeling that draws me to them. It’s like these books communicate with each other in a mystical way. And I love the mystical! And I love being guided by a force that seems to be greater than myself. 😉

Hannah & The Alternate Realities

At 29 years old, Hannah Marie Martin has been living a transient life since leaving college, switching jobs and locations, always feeling kind of lost and adrift. But now at a turning point in her life, and curing her broken heart, she makes the decision to leave NYC and go back to her hometown of Los Angeles, CA, to stay with her best friend Gabby for a while, who lives in a charming townhouse with her husband Mark. While Gabby’s life appears flawless, Hannah’s life seems to be in disarray.

But everything changes the moment she arrives in L.A.:

To celebrate Hannah’s first night back in L.A., Gabby organizes a gathering at a local bar, including friends from high school. Hannah even invites her high school ex-boyfriend Ethan to join, just to see where things might go.
After a fun evening, Gabby informs Hannah that she’s leaving with Mark sooner than expected. Ethan, who doesn’t want Hannah to leave, offers her a ride to Gabby’s later on if she wants to stay longer. Hannah is torn between leaving with Gabby and Mark or staying with Ethan, unsure of what to do.

And this is where the novel splits in two, and this is where it gets really juicy and exciting: Let’s explore parallel lives! Whoop Whoop!

Life is full of decisions and once a choice is made, it’s essential to stand by it, learn from it, and move forward, or is it not?
Hannah’s struggle with decision-making makes having two options intriguing. And let’s be honest who doesn’t know this decision-making dilemma?
But which one is she going with?
Parallel universes? Why not take the risk and see where it leads?

Oh, the reader is in for a treat! It’s this kind of “Sliding Doors” moment that resonates deeply with me.
It’s fascinating and a total reality, not just only a fantasy, as we now know.
So I hope, if you’re reading this and you want to invite a bit more magic and wonder into your life, that you consider grabbing yourself a copy of this book.

How does life unfold when we go in one direction? And how does life unfold when we go in the other direction?
I rooted for both versions of Hannah. And I loved both (positive) endings. We need those hopeful messages, that everything, no matter where it’ll take us somehow always works out, in either way!
It shows us, as the readers, that there’s not just one fate, one destiny but that there are infinite ways, with a lot of magic and mystery woven into our lives.

What I particularly loved about Maybe In Another Life is that in both lives her friend Gabby was by Hannah’s side no matter what, both of them giving each other unwavering support.
Ah, novels that highlight strong female friendships like this one truly resonate with me. It’s incredibly uplifting. We need more of those stories. It’s healing.

Picking up on the Topic of Parallel Lives

The Midnight Library was a novel on the infinite versions of lives we can try on and live out. Maybe In Another Life was the perfect continuation.

(A little spoiler ahead but it’s a good one that will make you wanna read this novel even more.)
In both versions of her life, Hannah reaches the same conclusion:

“If there are infinite number of universes, I don’t know how I got so lucky as to end up in this one.
Maybe there are other lives for me out there, but I can’t imagine being as happy in any of them as I am right now, today.
I have to think that while I may exist in other universes, none is as good as this.”

This makes me think of what is said in The Midnight Library that – and I’m paraphrasing – regardless of the life you’re living, the most important thing is the present moment, living in the now, and making it meaningful and worthwhile.

So much to ponder. So much hope. And so much beauty. We get to choose.

About Taylor Jenkins Reid

“Taylor Jenkins Reid is the author of the New York Times Bestselling novels Carrie Soto Is Back, Malibu RisingDaisy Jones and The Six and The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, as well as One True Loves, Maybe in Another Life, After I Do, and Forever, Interrupted. Her books have been chosen by Reese’s Book Club, Read with Jenna, Indie Next, Best of Amazon, and Book of the Month. Her novel, Daisy Jones and The Six, is now a limited series on Amazon Prime. She lives in Los Angeles.” (find out more here.)

I’ll definitely read and review her other books as well. Can’t wait to dive in. I’m hooked.

My favorite Quotes from the Book

“I need someone in my corner in order to thrive. I think I am one of those people who need people. Because my family left and I was OK with it, I always thought that I was more of a lone wolf. I guess I thought I didn’t need anyone.”

“You spend your life learning how not to get pregnant, and then, one day, you suddenly have to reverse all of that training.”

“Because you are the kind of person who deserves a fuss made over her. That’s why. And I’m just the guy to do that.”

“But I wonder how different my world would be if any of those things happened. You can’t change just one part, can you? When you sit there and wish things had happened differently, you can’t just wish away the bad stuff. You think about all the good stuff you might lose, too. Better just to stay in the now and focus on what you can do better in the future.”

“In general, I find that when you are doing something you are not supposed to be doing, the best course of action is to act as if you are absolutely supposed to be doing it.”

I love the following paragraph, long quote, but important!:

“[…] I was reading about the different theories about the universe. I was really taken with this one theory that states that everything that is possible happens. That means that when you flip a quarter, it doesn’t come down heads or tails. It comes up heads and tails. Every time you flip a coin and it comes up heads, you are merely in the universe where the coin came up heads.

“There’s another version of you out there, created the second of every day. The world is splitting further and further into an infinite number of parallel universes where everything that could happen is happening. This is completely plausible, by the way. It’s a legitimate interpretation of quantum mechanics. It’s entirely possible that every time we make a decision, there’s a version of us out there somewhere who made a different choice. An infinite number of versions of ourselves are living out the consequences of every single possibility of our lives. […]”

Book Picks for June 2024

I organize my reads of the month on, you can see them here. This is how I keep track of all the books that I want to read, the ones that I have already read, and the ones I’m currently reading. Nothing is set in stone, I re-organize my monthly bookshelves/reads to my liking.

  • I Remember Paris by Lucy Diamond
  • You, Again by Kate Goldbeck
  • Yours Truly by Abby Jimenez
  • Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
  • Book Lovers by Emily Henry
  • surprise reveal(s)

Other Book Recommendations:

  • Sophie’s World by Jostein Gaarder
  • Paula by Isabelle Allende

All Lost In Pages Posts:

Gentle Reminder: If you purchase books, please remember to support your local bookstores! 

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