Every weekday, we feature a different review on Booklist Online that highlights starred reviews, high-demand titles, and/or titles especially relevant to our current issue’s spotlight. We’ve collected the reviews from April 3 through 7 so that you can revisit the week’s best books.
Monday, April 3
Once and for All, by Sarah Dessen
For Louna, weddings are a science: she can handle out-of-control bridesmaids, nervous brides, and missing ring bearers, and she knows exactly what to do with fresh flowers, fairy lights, and mason jars (they’re so in right now). When no-strings serial dater Ambrose barrels into her life, Louna is immune to his charms. Dessen, the newest recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award, offers up her thirteenth novel, and it’s everything readers have come to love about her work. It’s a familiar romp—fans of Dexter, the erstwhile hero of Dessen’s This Lullaby (2002), will undoubtedly fall for Ambrose. Wedding bells or not, no one else does summer love like Dessen.
Tuesday, April 4
The Sunshine Sisters, by Jane Green
Ronni Sunshine may have achieved some success as an actress in Hollywood, but as a mother she fell short. Now her three grown daughters are estranged from each other, and Ronni, who has been diagnosed with ALS, must bring them back together before she ends her life. Green, whose novel The Beach House (2008) was recently optioned for film, presents readers with another warm and winning family tale.
Wednesday, April 5
Flame in the Mist, by Renée Ahdieh
Hattori Mariko never thought of herself as water. The high-class daughter of a prominent samurai, Mariko has always been more stubborn and grounded—hallmarks of earth—than she is fluid and changeable. But Mariko is promised to the emperor’s son, and when she is attacked and left for dead on her journey to the Imperial City, changeable is exactly what she becomes. This glimpse into the rigid, violent, and often honorable world of feudal Japan is tempered by light fantasy elements and a heady dose of first love. Momentum slows in places, but a white-knuckled finale will leave readers eager to see where crafty, capable Mariko’s choices lead her.
Thursday, April 6
Come Sundown, by Nora Roberts
If Alice Bodine ever returns to her family’s Montana ranch, her niece, Bodine Longbow, is prepared to give her a good piece of her mind for all the worry and grief she has caused. When Alice does turn up, 25 years after she ran away, a scolding is the last thing on Bodine’s mind. Battered, bruised, and with no memory of her old life, Alice has escaped from “Sir,” a man who had sexually and emotionally abused her for years. With its take-no-guff heroine, who understands the importance of family and friends, and a compelling plot peppered with domestic details and composed of equal measures of spine-tingling suspense and sexy romance, this is quintessential Roberts.
Friday, April 7
Windfall, by Jennifer E. Smith
Luck isn’t something that 18-year-old Alice is familiar with. When she was 9, her parents died just months apart from each other, and Alice moved to Chicago to live with her aunt and uncle. Alice honors her parents by volunteering and dreaming of Stanford, though her longing to return to California is tempered by her close relationships with her cousin Leo and her best friend, Teddy, whom Alice secretly loves. Smith, no stranger to romance (Hello, Goodbye, and Everything in Between, 2015) crafts another thoughtful story about a girl on the brink of major change. Alice’s struggles are relatable, and her feelings for Teddy ring true. Particularly well-developed secondary characters put the finishing touches on this lucky find.