Book Review – Go Set a Watchman

This past winter, when I heard Harper Lee’s long lost first novel, Go Set a Watchman, which happens to be the sequel to To Kill a Mockingbird, was going to be released this summer, I was so excited. But then once the negative reviews started coming in from respected sources, not only was I hesitant to read it, I was saddened by what I read in the reviews. Could Atticus Finch really be a bigot? Surely the man the world grew to love, respect, and perhaps idolize to an extent couldn’t be a prejudice hypocrite. But that’s what the reviews said. The New York Times even had a quote. So, somewhat disheartened, I put the book I preordered back in March on my bookshelf with no intention of picking it up to read. Luckily, my mom did read the book and told me how great it was and that it was worth the read. So I read it, and I’m so glad I did.

Go Set a Watchman finds Scout as adult in her mid-20s in Maycomb during a visit from New York. Now, in the mid-1950s, Maycomb has changed since we, as readers, first visited the small southern town, but so had the country and the world for that matter. The story follows Scout as she reminisces about her childhood and grapples with the changes to the people and places she called home.

I understand the sentiments of this book’s critics. Is it quite as polished as To Kill a Mockingbird? Probably not. Does that take away from the story? Definitely not. And yes, what stunned and disheartened many when they read Go Set a Watchman is true. Atticus Finch is not painted as the same even-minded man we met in To Kill a Mockingbird. But to the critics and the disheartened fans, I say this. The world was introduced to Atticus Finch through the eyes of a young girl, who idolized her father like many young children do. We saw that man. The man Gregory Peck so eloquently gave a face and a voice that many will always have ingrained in their memory. However, people are rarely the idols we imagine in our minds as children, nor are they the devil we paint them to be after witnessing their actions as adults. For over 60 years, we’ve known Atticus Finch through the eyes of a child, and as we read Go Set a Watchman, we have to understand that we are meeting him 20 years later through the eyes of an independent, young adult.

The rose colored glasses and blinders come off. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing; it’s just a fact of life.

Beach Reads

Did you ever wake up, realize the date, and wonder how the past several weeks just flew by? That’s how I felt this morning. I can’t believe it’s already the end of August. I feel like it was just the 4th of July, but it’s been a busy summer and the days and weeks just seemed to disappear! I had been hoping to write this post before the end of summer, but I figure it’s better late than never.

One of my favorite things to do (if I can find the time) in the summer is sit on the beach and relax with a book. Each year, I always add a few to my list of favorites and this year was no exception. I thought I’d share my three favorites I read this summer and the review I posted for each of them on Goodreads. Some of my reviews are a little shorter than other, but that’s only because I felt a few words said all that needed to be said. I truly loved all three!

The books are listed in no particular order (just alphabetical by the author’s last name).

Twenty-Five by Rachel L. Hamm

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Abigail Bronsen is sure her life is going nowhere when she turns twenty-five and realizes she hasn’t done anything on a list of goals she made for herself as a teenager. Ben Harris is looking to find “the one” after his last girlfriend cheated on him. When they crash into each other, it appears they’ve both found exactly what they wanted. A year of firsts follows: first date, first kiss, first “I love you’s.” The first fight is inevitable, but neither of them saw a breakup coming. When Abigail is offered a job overseas, they’ll discover that no relationship is perfect and even true love sometimes finds itself separated by time and distance.

My review:

5 stars!

Twenty-Five is such a beautiful story about finding yourself and love at the same time! I couldn’t put the book down until I was finished.

Just the Way You Are by Lynsey James

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Dear Ava,
How do you start writing a letter to someone, six years after breaking their heart?

Ava is unlucky in love as well as in life. The new office bitch has landed the dating column Ava wanted, and she can’t remember the last time she had a second date. It’s a good thing she has best friends Max and Gwen to pick up the pieces.

Deep down, Ava knows the reason why one date never turns into two – she’s in love with someone else. Someone she’s never even met.

It all started six years ago, with a letter from a secret admirer, Mr Writer…but then they suddenly stopped and Ava was heartbroken.

Now the letters have started again and Ava knows it could mean winning back the dating column at work. This time she’s determined to unmask Mr Writer…and find out once and for all if he’s Mr Right or Mr Very Definitely Wrong!

My review:

5 stars!

Just the Way You Are is chick lit at its finest! I loved following Ava on her journey of finding Mr. Writer! The entire story was great and the ending was perfect! This is a must read for all chick lit lovers!


The Best Thing I Never Had by Erin Lawless

Synopsis from Goodreads:

If you’re a fan of Mhairi McFarlane’s You Had Me at Hello or David Nicholls’ One Day, then you will love our new acquisition from contemporary romance author Erin Lawless!

Miles and Nicky are getting married. Unfortunately, their wedding party is a tangle of ex-housemates, ex-friends and ex-lovers. So this wedding isn’t just a wedding, it’s a reunion. Can anything be salvaged from the past? And what really happened between them all, back at university?

Find out in this wonderful contemporary romance.

My review:

5 stars!

There were so many things I loved about The Best Thing I Never Had. But I think most importantly, I loved how real it felt. The story follows seven friends – their friendships, their love lives; the bonds that held them together, the circumstances that tore them apart.

Sometimes, I think it’s easy to overlook how vulnerable we are in our early to mid-20s. Friends become family; boundaries are sometimes non-existent; relationships are delicate. Erin Lawless characterizes this flawlessly!

From the moment I started, I couldn’t put the book down. Chick Lit lovers, The Best Thing I Never Had is one you will want to make sure you have on your to-read list!


So whether you’re heading to the beach, the lake, the pool, or just looking for a great book to read while you relax in air conditioning, I’d recommend these books to load on your e-reader and take with you!

What are some of your favorite books you’ve read this summer?  I’d love to add them to my list!

The Meet Cute of Julia & Drew

It’s that time of year when I inevitably don’t want to wish the summer away but the heat and humidity have me dreaming about cooler fall temperatures. It’s also the time of year that birthed the idea for The Other Side of Later. I guess it’s not too hard to fathom considering this is my favorite time of year – late summer beach days and the anticipation of fall and all it has to bring – cooler mornings, crisp air, and colorful leaves.

If I rewind 6 years, there was a hot and humid, August evening when I decided to squeeze in a quick run before thunderstorms swept through. I knew I’d be cutting it close with the dark storm clouds off to the West, but I was certain I had at least 25 minutes for a quick run. Unfortunately, luck wasn’t on my side that day. I was about a mile away from my house when the sky opened up and I had to make a very quick dash to find cover.

I’ll be honest. That night I didn’t think too fondly of the run. My sneakers were completely water logged, and I had had to peel off my soaking wet clothes as soon as I came in the front door as my husband tossed me a towel from upstairs. However, the next day, as I thought about how convenient it would have been to have a structure of any kind along the bike path, the premise of Julia and Drew’s meet cute came to me. What if two runners – more specifically, two former classmates – found the same place to take cover during a storm?

From there, the idea for The Other Side of Later took off in my head. I felt like I caught lightning in a bottle. My mind was in overdrive. I couldn’t type fast enough. Idea after idea flowed onto the screen. That being said, there were rewrites on top of rewrites. Some ideas from the early drafts never panned out. But the timing of the book’s opening setting? That never changed. I knew mid-August at the Jersey Shore when heat and humidity is at its worst was the perfect time of year to start the story of Julia and Drew.

So if you’re like me and like to read books that are season appropriate, I think you’ll enjoy The Other Side of Later right now! But don’t worry. It’s not entirely a summer book. There is plenty of fall and holiday fun in the later chapters!

Check out The Other Side of Later on Amazon!