Hello! I’m Joy, and I love to read. I consider it my greatest talent and favorite hobby. Another one of my preferred pastimes is recommending reads to anyone who is the least bit curious. Seriously. I am always volunteering book recs to people near me, whether they ask or not. I thought it would be fun to bring this passion to Baton Rouge Parents Magazine. I will share with you every book I read month by month and what I think about them. Let’s get started! You can also follow me on Instagram at @joyfulreadswithjoy!
September 2022 Reads
The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle by Jennifer Ryan
This book is a warm hug, a cozy blanket, and a steaming mug of tea. If you want to get lost in a charming English village with fabulous British women in the 1940s, pick this novel up. The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle takes place in the English countryside in 1942, in the middle of World War II, but Jennifer Ryan focuses her tale on the women and their fashion. Full of historical quality and dynamic characters, this novel illuminates the struggle and hardships of everyday people during the war.
Summary: Grace is a quiet, dutiful vicar’s daughter who is engaged to an older, stodgy parson when she finds her mother’s wedding dress in tatters and in desperate need of mending. Cressida is a high profile couturier in London, known for her sharp style and expensive taste, when her home and design house are destroyed in the blitz. She must return to her family estate in the countryside until she can find another home in London. Her niece, Violet, is pouting in the manor that all the eligible lords are away at war when she is conscripted into the women’s forces. All three of these women come together through a sewing circle and discover their capabilities, desires, and friendships.
Yes, there is an abundance of WWII novels on the market, but I found this one to be unique in that it centers women’s lives and their sacrifices on the home front. The characters grow and change so much, and it’s a delightful snuggle, honestly. Great book for the fall with a blanket and a cup of tea.
Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood
I know this was a huge hit last year, and I’m late to reading it. I’m so glad I did! It was so much cuter and smarter than I had assumed. I don’t read a ton of romance or romcoms, but when I do, I like them to be like this: clever, witty, tender, a little odd, and sweet. This STEM romcom was self aware and full of nerdy science, which I loved. Ali Hazelwood has a unique voice and extremely addictive writing style.
Summary: Olive is a devoted PhD student at Stanford who is determined to improve early indicators in cancer diagnoses. When her best friend catches feelings for her ex, Olive initiates a kiss and fake dating agreement with the hot, “unapproachable and antagonistic” professor on campus. As the ruse progresses, so do their feelings for one another (of course), and like most romance tropes, they fall hard. There’s more involved, and the situation gets complicated.
I really loved the setting in academia and the devotion to science and research that the characters shared. Hazelwood is a scientist and professor, so she knows her content! The characters are memorable and likable. Olive is a fresh protagonist who doesn’t experience attraction until Adam. I would love to see a well-executed adaptation of The Love Hypothesis. There is plenty of humor and development, and only one steamy scene (but extra steamy).
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Wow. Instant classic. This is my first Neil Gaiman experience, and I think I’m hooked, guys. I read this book at school with my students when they had silent choice reading, and I was completely immersed in Gaiman’s magical graveyard. I loved it so much that I got it for my sixth grade son to read at the library. He loved it, too! I have always enjoyed a walk through a cemetery, paying special attention to the names and epitaphs. The idea of a boy growing up there among the ghosts transfixed me.
Summary: A baby boy is the only remaining member of his family after a violent tragedy. He finds his way to the graveyard where he is adopted by a kind ghostly couple who never had children. A guardian is appointed who can go between the dead and the living. The boy is named Nobody, Bod for short, and he grows up in the graveyard with all sorts of mystical and supernatural adventures. While he adventures within the gates, a dangerous killer lurks outside the gates, hunting the boy. Bod experiences enough to learn how to love and survive..
The Graveyard Book is spooky yet gentle. The underlying message is one of love and tenderness. I felt similarly while reading this as I did when I read A Wrinkle in Time. So beautiful and marvelous. A must read for anyone who loves fantasy, history, coming-of-age tales, and mystery.
Love on the Brain by Ali Hazelwood
Ali Hazelwood is such a saucy and fun author. I read Love Hypothesis last week, and this was a perfect follow up. I even think I liked this one more. An enemies to lovers trope with a fierce and spunky neuroscientist, Love on the Brain is a super enjoyable romcom escape.
Summary: Dr. Bee Konigswasser is pumped for the chance to work at NASA doing neuroimaging for a fancy astronaut helmet. Her dream job falls apart when she learns her grad school nemesis, a grumpy yet handsome engineer, is her co-lead on the project. Upon arrival in Houston, Bee discovers the project is not going as she expected. Through a comedy of errors, Bee and her co-lead, Levi, become friends and then MUCH MORE THAN FRIENDS. Bee plans on leaving Houston and Levi when the project ends, but then all goes awry.
Love on the Brain is smart and sweet. Bee is a lovable protagonist who is a twin and has grown up all over Europe. Her brains and wit are what set her apart. Levi, the frenemy lover, is precious. This novel is also Reylo fanfic, like Hypothesis, but I liked the NASA backdrop and these characters just a tad more. Fun ride! Be warned steamy scenes are very, uh, anatomical and graphic. Lol.