My June 2023 reads

Another great month of reading. I travelled from an isolated home in a rural corner of Ireland where a killer may or may not be on the loose, to a small Connecticut town where  a recent widow is trying to kickstart her life, and her failing bookstore, as she tries to reclaim her life and to find the courage to begin dating again… possibly with the “help” of her husband’s ghost.

Next I was alongside another widow, in a coastal English town. Her daughter is concerned her mother is becoming a recluse, and decides to invite other lonely individuals to rent a beachchair for conversation with her mum… changing both their lives. And finally, I returned to WWII Portofino, Italy, following the lives of twin sisters: one who joined the Italian partisans, the other who (ostensibly) worked for the Germans.

Three of the four novels I read were NetGalley reads. One I read was from a fellow WFWA author. One was an hstorical fiction novel, the other three contemporary.

All were fantastic reads. You can find the full reviews below.

And already getting a great start to my July reads. Recommendations always welcome!


The Party coverThe Party

Triona Walsh

I read and loved Triona Walsh’s The Snowstorm, set in Ireland’s remote Aran Islands, and was eager to read her next novel, set in another remote Irish location – this time in County Mayo.

Lizzie O’Shea’s life derailed after the death of her beloved father. After spiraling out of control with alcohol and drug abuse, Lizzie was shipped off to a rehab centre. Now, six months sober and with a new outlook on life, Lizzie emerges to find her own household radically altered.

Lizzie’s mother, Claire, and younger brother arrive at the center to pick up Lizzie, with Claire’s new husband, George, in tow. Claire and George announce they are whisking Lizzie off to George’s remote country estate, nestled in thick forests and cut off from civilization. There, they are joined by George’s daughter and her new husband. And Lizzie’s first post-rehab days quickly transform into a lot more than she bargained on.

It quickly becomes apparent that the historic home harbors generations of secrets and lies, and Lizzie works to piece together clues from the past while simultaneously trying to understand the secrets and motives of the current wedding party guests.

The atmosphere and setting of this remote estate slowly swallowed up by the encroaching forest was brilliant, as was the character of Lizzie, placed in an impossible position, struggling to stay sober in her post-rehab life, while grappling with rapidly mounting tension. On the negative side, many of the final plot twists seemed rushed and unrealistic and distanced me somewhat from what I otherwise thought was a compelling story. Overall, this is a wonderfully atmospheric novel with a flawed heroine I was rooting for throughout, and lots of twists and turns.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


A Beginner's Guilde to Starting Over coverA Beginner’s Guide to Starting Over

Gabi Coatsworth

I enjoyed Coatsworth’s earlier memoir and was excited to see she was releasing her first novel.

This was a fun, fast read centered around a New England smalltown bookstore and focused on taking chances and starting over.

With her two daughters off at college, Molly is a recent empty-nester. She has been somewhat adrift since the sudden, unexpected loss of her husband three years earlier. Buying the independent bookshop in which she worked and trying to make it successful has helped her gain control of her life, but when the landlord insists on a steep rent increase, Molly fears her dreams may be short-lived. Meanwhile, her friends are pestering her to begin dating again, and her forays into online dating are another source of stress. Add to the mix the ghost of her dead husband, who says he’s there to “help her” find new love.

This makes for a fun novel, with an enjoyable cast of characters and thoughtful reflections on what it entails to lead a happy, fulfilled life when things don’t turn out as expected. Highly recommend this novel.


The Lonely Hearts Beach Club coverThe Lonely Hearts Beach Club

Amy Miller

This is the heartwarming story about three generations of women working through heartache.

In an English seaside town, Olivia is unsuccessfully trying to help her elderly mother emerge from her grief at the accidental death of her husband – Olivia’s stepfather. Olivia herself is no stranger to grief, having suffered the death of her father and stepfather and still stinging from a failed relationship. And Olivia’s daughter grieves over the father she never knew.

Olivia’s plan to rent out her stepfather’s beach chair to other lonely hearts wishing to speak about their experiences with grieving, loneliness and second chances presents all three women with the chance to embrace change. This was a feel-good story of love, loss, family – and opening one’s heart to new friends.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


The Girl from Portofino coverThe Girl from Portofino

Siobhan Daiko


  1. Gabi Coatsworth on July 8, 2023 at 9:51 pm

    I see you traveled around this month! Thanks for the lovely review- I’m so glad you enjoyed the book 🙂

    • Kimberly Sullivan on July 9, 2023 at 6:43 am

      I always enjoy my monthly “travels” through the page. Loved your book, Gabi. Already looking forward to the next!

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