Review: Lessons in Chemistry

Title: Lessons in Chemistry
Author: Bonnie Garmus
Genre: Historical Fiction
Publisher: Doubleday Books
Source: Purchased
Format: Hardcover
Release Date: April 5, 2022
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results. 

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo. 

Laugh-out-loud funny, shrewdly observant, and studded with a dazzling cast of supporting characters, Lessons in Chemistry is as original and vibrant as its protagonist.


In the 1950s, Elizabeth Zott stands out as the only woman in the chemistry department at Hastings Research Institute. Most of the men who she works with put her down and don’t see her as an equal. The exception is Calvin Evans. Calvin is a famous chemist who falls in love with Elizabeth. A few years later, Elizabeth is a single mother with a hit TV show that teaches housewives how to cook with chemistry lessons. Elizabeth has become a success despite the men who tried to hold her back throughout her career. But there are still some secrets in her life and Calvin’s that she must learn to become the chemist she’s destined to be. 

I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this book but I’m so glad I read it. This is an original story about a woman who challenged the status quo in the 1950s in the US. She had to deal with sexism and assaults, which unfortunately isn’t all a thing of the past. I wish Elizabeth’s story and the sexism she experienced wasn’t still relevant today. Though many industries are more welcoming to women, a lot more work has to be done to actually achieve equality for women and people of colour. 

I highly recommend checking out Lessons in Chemistry for a unique read!

Content warnings: death of parents, suicide, rape, sexual assault

What to read next:

The Maid by Nita Prose

Recipe for a Perfect Wife by Karma Brown

Have you read Lessons for Chemistry? What did you think of it?


Review: Flowerheart

Title: Flowerheart
Author: Catherine Bakewell
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Publisher: HarperTeen
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: March 14, 2023
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

Perfect for fans of Margaret Rogerson and Tamora Pierce, this standalone YA debut is a stunning cottagecore fantasy romance about a girl with powerful and violent magic, which she must learn to control—or lose everything she loves.

Clara’s magic has always been wild. But it’s never been dangerous. Then a simple touch causes poisonous flowers to bloom in her father’s chest.

The only way to heal him is to cast an extremely difficult spell that requires perfect control. And the only person willing to help is her former best friend, Xavier, who’s grown from a sweet, shy child into a mysterious and distant young man.

Xavier names a terrible price in return, knowing Clara will give anything to save her father. As she struggles to reconcile the new Xavier with the boy she once loved, she discovers their bargain is only one of the heavy secrets he’s hiding. And as she hunts for the truth, she instead finds the root of a terrible darkness that’s taken hold in the queendom—a darkness only Clara’s magic is powerful enough to stop.


Clara Lucas has wild magic. She has no control over it despite studying with masters for years. One day, she accidentally curses her father, causing poisonous flowers to bloom in his heart. Her only hope of saving him is learning how to do a blessing, but with uncontrolled magic, that will be difficult. Her childhood friend Xavier offers to help her for an incredibly high price. Clara agrees because she will do anything to save her father. However, she doesn’t know the dark secrets Xavier is keeping from her. The deal Clara made with him could impact their entire magical world, if she’s able to save her father. 

This was a tragic and beautiful fantasy story. Clara’s magic often manifested as flowers, so there was a lot of floral imagery throughout the story. Though the flowers were pretty, they could be dangerous like when they grew out of her father’s body, so they weren’t an innocent product of magic. 

There was a subplot about a drug that was going around their town. The drug was called Euphoria and was supposed to get rid of sadness, but it came at a price of consciousness. This was a powerful storyline about drug abuse. The drug may have removed that sadness, but it took away everything else that made them human. 

Flowerheart is a beautiful YA fantasy story!

Thank you HCC Frenzy for providing a physical copy of this book. 

Content warnings: child abandonment by parent, drug abuse, vomiting

What to read next:

Sorcery of Thorns by Margaret Rogerson

Have you read Flowerheart? What did you think of it?

Review: Forget Me Not

Title: Forget Me Not
Author: Julie Soto
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Publisher: Forever
Source: Publisher
Format: Ebook
Release Date: July 11, 2023
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

An ambitious wedding planner must work with her grumpy florist ex, whose heart she broke, on the most high-profile wedding of her career, in this spicy and emotional romance from popular fanfic author Julie Soto.

He loves me; he loves me not…

Ama Torres loves being a wedding planner. But with a mother who has been married more times than you can count on your fingers, Ama has decided that marriage is not the route for her. But weddings? Weddings are amazing. As a small business owner, she knows how to match her clients with the perfect vendor to give them the wedding of their dreams. Well, almost perfect…

Elliot hates being a florist, most of the time. When his father left him the flower shop, he considered it a burden, but he’s stuck with it. Just like how he’s stuck with the way he proposed to Ama, his main collaborator and girlfriend (or was she?) two years ago. But flowers have grown on him, just like Ama did. And flowers can’t run off and never speak to him again, like Ama did. 

When Ama is hired to plan a celebrity wedding that will bring her business national exposure, there’s a catch: Elliot is already contracted to design the flowers. Things are not helped by the two brides, who see the obvious chemistry between Ama and Elliot and are determined to set them up, not knowing their complicated history. Add in a meddling ex-boss, and a reality TV film crew documenting every step of the wedding prep, and Ama and Elliot’s hearts are not only in jeopardy again, but this time, their livelihoods are too.


Ama Torres is a wedding planner who doesn’t think a wedding is in her future. She loves a wedding, which she considers just a party, but after seeing her mother get divorced sixteen times, she doesn’t want to get married herself. When she lands the biggest wedding of the year with celebrity Hazel Renee, the catch is that she will have to work with florist Elliot Bloom. Elliot and Ama were dating years ago, but it ended suddenly. Their clients can see the undeniable chemistry between them, so they take every chance they can to get them together. Ama and Elliot have to figure out if they can make it work this time or if their plans for the future are just too far apart. 

This story was beautiful and hilarious. It starts with Ama comforting a bride with cold feet telling her that this wedding is just a party, and the marriage doesn’t necessarily have to last forever. That’s not at all what I would expect a wedding planner to say to a bride on her wedding day, so I knew this would be an entertaining read. 

Ama and Elliot had an enemies-to-lovers, second chance romance. There was loads of steam involved too. They seemed like opposites yet their chemistry was just too strong to deny. 

Forget Me Not is an entertaining and steamy rom com, coming out this summer!

Thank you Forever for providing a digital copy of this book on the Fable app!

Content warnings: divorce, death of parent (by cancer, not on page), relationship break up, broken bones

What to read next:

The Unhoneymooners by Christina Lauren

Have you read Forget Me Not? What did you think of it?

Review: The Golden Spoon

Title: The Golden Spoon
Author: Jessa Maxwell
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller, Mystery
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback
Release Date: March 7, 2023
Rating: ★★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

A killer is on the loose when someone turns up dead on the set of a hit TV baking competition in this darkly beguiling debut mystery that is perfect for fans of Lucy Foley, Nita Prose, and Anthony Horowitz. Soon to be a limited series on Hulu.

Production for the tenth season of Bake Week is ready to begin at the gothic estate of host and celebrity chef Betsy Martin, and everything seems perfect. The tent is up, the top-tier ingredients are aligned, and the crew has their cameras at the ready.

The six contestants work to prove their culinary talents over the course of five days, while Betsy is less than thrilled to share the spotlight with a new cohost—the brash and unpredictable Archie Morris. But as the baking competition commences, things begin to go awry. At first, it’s merely sabotage—sugar replaced with salt, a burner turned to high—but when a body is discovered, everyone is a suspect.

A deliciously suspenseful thriller for murder mystery buffs and avid bakers alike, The Golden Spoon will keep you guessing until the very last page.


Celebrity chef, and “America’s Grandmother,” Betsy Martin, is ready to host season ten of The Golden Spoon, a baking competition that is set at her estate. This year is different, because Betsy will be sharing the co-hosting spotlight with the brash Archie Morris. As soon as filming begins with the six new contestants, things start going wrong. There are mixed up ingredients, appliances tampered with, and eventually a body discovered. Everyone has a different motive for going on the competition show, and a motive for murder. 

This book had so many fun references to The Great British Baking Show. However, the hosts and judges weren’t as likable as they are on TV. Though Betsy was called “America’s Grandmother,” she wasn’t warm and friendly in person. Archie looked good on TV but he was really a jerk. The six contestants were well-developed with full backstories. 

This kind of story can be repetitive as each character goes through the motions of the competition. I liked how the different POVs followed each character at different times in the competition rather than giving everyone’s perspective at the same time. The only exception was when the body was found towards the end of the story where each perspective told what almost everyone was doing at that moment. 

Fans of The Great British Baking Show will love The Golden Spoon!

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada and Tandem Collective for providing a copy of this book!

What to read next:

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

Have you read The Golden Spoon? What did you think of it?

Review: Juniper and Thorn

Title: Juniper and Thorn
Author: Ava Reid
Genre: Horror, Gothic, Fantasy
Publisher: Harper Voyager
Source: Purchased
Format: Paperback
Release Date: June 21, 2022
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

From highly acclaimed bestselling author Ava Reid comes a gothic horror retelling of The Juniper Tree, set in another time and place within the world of The Wolf and the Woodsman, where a young witch seeks to discover her identity and escape the domination of her wizard father, perfect for fans of Shirley Jackson and Catherynne M. Valente.

A gruesome curse. A city in upheaval. A monster with unquenchable appetites. 

Marlinchen and her two sisters live with their wizard father in a city shifting from magic to industry. As Oblya’s last true witches, she and her sisters are little more than a tourist trap as they treat their clients with archaic remedies and beguile them with nostalgic charm. Marlinchen spends her days divining secrets in exchange for rubles and trying to placate her tyrannical, xenophobic father, who keeps his daughters sequestered from the outside world. But at night, Marlinchen and her sisters sneak out to enjoy the city’s amenities and revel in its thrills, particularly the recently established ballet theater, where Marlinchen meets a dancer who quickly captures her heart. 

As Marlinchen’s late-night trysts grow more fervent and frequent, so does the threat of her father’s rage and magic. And while Oblya flourishes with culture and bustles with enterprise, a monster lurks in its midst, borne of intolerance and resentment and suffused with old-world power. Caught between history and progress and blood and desire, Marlinchen must draw upon her own magic to keep her city safe and find her place within it.


Marlinchen and her two sisters are witches who live with their father, the last wizard, in the city of Oblya. Marlinchen and her sisters must use their magic to earn money for their family since their father was cursed. The girls are never allowed to leave their home. One night, Marlinchen and her sisters sneak into the city to see the ballet. She falls in love with the show and the principal dancer Sevas. After this taste of freedom, Marlinchen pushes the boundaries to leave her home more, but her father’s anger becomes more threatening as she has more secrets to keep from him. 

I wasn’t familiar with The Juniper Tree story, which this book is based on, so this story was a surprise to me. I really liked Marlinchen, though the people around her didn’t like her at all. She suffered abuse from her family and some clients. Though some parts of this story were difficult to read, I loved the twists and it had a meaningful ending. 

I had the opportunity to meet Ava Reid yesterday in Toronto. After hearing her speak about the book, including her inspiration and publishing process, I feel like I understand the book much better. 

Juniper and Thorn is a thought-provoking gothic horror. 

Content Warnings: physical and emotional abuse, child abuse (emotional, sexual and physical), rape, murder, death of animals, death of parent, body horror, cannibalism

What to read next:

The Wolf and the Woodsman by Ava Reid

Have you read Juniper and Thorn? What did you think of it?

Review: The Writing Retreat

Title: The Writing Retreat
Author: Julia Bartz
Genre: Thriller, Contemporary
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Canada
Source: Publisher and Tandem Collective
Format: Paperback
Release Date: February 21, 2023
Rating: ★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

A book deal to die for. 

Five attendees are selected for a month-long writing retreat at the remote estate of Roza Vallo, the controversial high priestess of feminist horror. Alex, a struggling writer, is thrilled.

Upon arrival, they discover they must complete an entire novel from scratch, and the best one will receive a seven-figure publishing deal. Alex’s long-extinguished dream now seems within reach.

But then the women begin to die.

Trapped, terrified yet still desperately writing, it is clear there is more than a publishing deal at stake at Blackbriar Estate. Alex must confront her own demons – and finish her novel – to save herself.

This unhinged, propulsive, claustrophobic closed-door thriller will pull you in and spit you out…


Bestselling author Roza Vallo hosts a writing retreat at her remote estate for aspiring writers under thirty-years-old. When Alex finds out that she’s been chosen for this exclusive retreat, she’s excited but there’s a problem. She’s had writer’s block for a year. On top of that, her ex-best friend, who she had a fight with a year before, has also been chosen to go to the retreat. The experience isn’t what they expected. Roza wants them to each write a complete novel, writing 3,000 words a day to complete it in a month. However, the women begin to feel trapped, and strange things start happening. It isn’t just their writing careers that are at stake, but their lives as well. 

I loved the premise of this book. It would be a dream come true for me to go to a writing retreat with my favourite author! I can’t imagine having the privilege of doing that. The thriller aspects of this story were good, but there were some strange scenes. 

The strange scenes involved hallucinations and dreams. It gave the story a bit of a fantasy side, which disrupted the intense thriller. There were also some references to homosexuality and race in publishing that didn’t really make the impact they should have. It felt like some attempted representation that was thrown into the story without a purpose or without fully making a statement. 

The Writing Retreat was an intense and unusual thriller. 

Thank you Simon and Schuster Canada and Tandem Collective for providing a copy of this book.

What to read next:

The Sanatorium by Sarah Pearse

Have you read The Writing Retreat? What did you think of it?

Review: Delicious Monsters

Title: Delicious Monsters
Author: Liselle Sambury
Genre: Young Adult, Horror, Thriller, Paranormal
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Source: Publisher
Format: Paperback arc
Release Date: February 28, 2023
Rating: ★★★★


Goodreads Synopsis:

The Haunting of Hill House meets Sadie in this evocative and mind-bending psychological thriller following two teen girls navigating the treacherous past of a mysterious mansion ten years apart.

Daisy sees dead people—something impossible to forget in bustling, ghost-packed Toronto. She usually manages to deal with her unwanted ability, but she’s completely unprepared to be dumped by her boyfriend. So when her mother inherits a secluded mansion in northern Ontario where she spent her childhood summers, Daisy jumps at the chance to escape. But the house is nothing like Daisy expects, and she begins to realize that her experience with the supernatural might be no match for her mother’s secrets, nor what lurks within these walls…

A decade later, Brittney is desperate to get out from under the thumb of her abusive mother, a bestselling author who claims her stay at “Miracle Mansion” allowed her to see the error of her ways. But Brittney knows that’s nothing but a sham. She decides the new season of her popular Haunted web series will uncover what happened to a young Black girl in the mansion ten years prior and finally expose her mother’s lies. But as she gets more wrapped up in the investigation, she’ll have to decide: if she can only bring one story to light, which one matters most—Daisy’s or her own?

As Brittney investigates the mansion in the present, Daisy’s story runs parallel in the past, both timelines propelling the girls to face the most dangerous monsters of all: those that hide in plain sight.


Seventeen-year-old Daisy can see dead people. She’s constantly surrounded by them in Toronto, but she manages to deal with it. When her mother gets the news that she inherited a mansion in Timmins, a city in Northern Ontario, Daisy and her mother, Grace, move there. In the mansion, Daisy must confront her mother’s secret past. Ten years later, Brittney hosts a web series about haunted places. She decides that she wants to shape the new series around forgotten Black girls, like Daisy. Brittney and her co-host Jayden go to “Miracle Mansion” to investigate the haunted mansion where Daisy’s tragic story unfolds. 

This story started out as a ghost story, but it had a lot more meaning than that. It was quite intense, particularly towards the end. The ending of this story raised the question of what girls are forgotten and who is considered worth looking for. This horror story had an emotionally charged ending. There were extensive trigger warnings at the beginning of the book, which I will include at the end of this post.

One of my criticisms of the story is that I found there was too much back story at the beginning. There was a lot of Daisy’s life in Toronto in the first third of the book, and it wasn’t as crucial to the ending of the book. I would have liked it more if the main story started sooner. There were also many hints to tension points that were obvious by the time they were revealed, which minimized the tension they should have caused. 

Delicious Monsters is a horror story with and important message. 

Content warnings: child sexual assault (off page), child physical abuse (off page), child neglect, grooming, suicide, killing of a goat, body horror, violence, death

Thank you Simon and Schuster for providing a physical copy of this book.

What to read next:

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Have you read Delicious Monsters? What did you think of it?