So This Is Christmas

What I read: So This Is Christmas by Jenny Holiday

Why I picked it up: Christmas book + new release shelf

How I read it: On paper over a few days – longer than is typical for me.

What it’s about: Cara is a management consultant who travels all over the world, and this Christmas season she is in Eldovia helping their traditional watch company see better days. The only problem is Mr. Bentz is so proper and dislikes her greatly – that is until he doesn’t.

What I liked: I appreciated the banter between them, some great dialogue.

What I disliked: It was just too slow.

Genre: Christmas, open door romance, royalty.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and unless you’ve got no other Christmas romances to read, I’d skip this one.

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The Personal Librarian

What I read: The Personal Librarian by Marie Benedict and Victoria Christopher Murray

Why I picked it up: It came up on hoopla or Goodreads as something that I’d like.

How I read it: On audio at 1.75x speed over a few days, it’s long!

What it’s about: Belle da Costa Greene was J. P. Morgan’s personal librarian. She was also a light skinned Black woman passing as a while woman in the early 1900s – which we only know now. It was very good, and also it was very challenging to read. I say “challenging” because of how hard it is to read about discrimination when I just want to “fix it all.” I loved reading about books and her life and the early 1900s, which is not an era that I typically go toward.

What I liked: She was an incredibly intelligent woman, and it was a delight to read her story.

What I disliked: I didn’t quite appreciate her take on relationships and love, I think many of her ways of thinking were skewed.

Genre: Historical fiction, race.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and absolutely, this is an excellent read!

The Friendship Pact

What I read: The Friendship Pact by Jill Shalvis

Why I picked it up: Found it on the shelf at the library and I think I’ve read her before and liked her. Susan Mallery endorses her, and I think I’ve read all of Susan’s books now.

How I read it: On paper in two days (a common timeline for me).

What it’s about: Tae and her mother, April, are very close as they practically raised each other. April got pregnant with Tae at 15 and most of their life has been quite the struggle, but now things are going pretty well. Then Riggs comes home for the summer – and now Tae can’t get that one night when she was 17 out of her head. Will they pick up where they left off, or will they just be friends.

What I liked: Tae goes searching for her birth father throughout this story, and that was quite interesting to read about.

What I disliked: April lied to Tae her whole life – as someone who understands what that’s like, it was hard to read.

Genre: Single mother, second chances, closed door.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes – it’s part of a series of 3, but I haven’t read the others yet, so I think it can stand alone.

Lucy on the Wild Side

What I read: Lucy on the Wild Side by Kerry Rea

Why I picked it up: Either someone I follow on Goodreads recommended it or I found it on a list on Libby.

How I read it: On kindle in just a couple of days once I finally got started.

What it’s about: Lucy is a junior keeper at the Cincinnati Zoo for the gorillas. Zuri is her favorite and now her favorite Animal Planet star is coming to desire Zuri’s entire troop plus the rest of the zoo. Except meeting your hero isn’t always a delight and Kai turns out to be nothing like she thought.

What I liked: I really liked Kai. He was sweet and delightful.

What I disliked: Lucy’s grandmother misses a big point between Lucy and her mom that would have been much more healing to have noticed earlier.

Genre: Mothers and daughters, open door romance.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and it’s sweet!!

The Bookseller’s Promise

What I read: The Bookseller’s Promise by Beth Wiseman

Why I picked it up: I found it on the new release shelf at the library, and it was a combination of some of my favorite things: books about books, sweet love story, and interesting religious community of faith.

How I read it: On paper over more days than it should have taken me, but I had a friend visit in the middle filled with great food, good movies, and an intense card game.

What it’s about: Jake inherited his grandfather’s book store and a special book he promised never to sell. He hired Eva when she was only 15, but now she’s 20 – and she’s fallen in love with him, but does he see her as a woman or just the teenage girl he hired for his shop? Yvonne shows up trying to buy the book that was never to be sold for $100,000 … that’s a lot of money!

What I liked: There was this sweet scene with Jake and Eva in the bookstore when her dad came in that was a real delight!

What I disliked: Sometimes it went in circles – I get it – the book was special, it was hard to read, and it was worth a lot – but without getting the actual text, it was hard to read “this is special” over and over again.

Genre: Christian love story, chaste romance, books about books, grief.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes, it’s super sweet.

Mixed Signals

What I read: Mixed Signals by B. K. Borison

Why I picked it up: I’m a gal who loves a series, so I borrowed all three for my drive this week.

How I read it: On audio at 1.75x speed while driving home today and on my walk.

What it’s about: Layla, the 3rd partner in Lovelight Farms, gets her story. She runs an amazing bakery that’s even going to be featured in the state-wide magazine for “best bakeries” – but her love life is a disaster. Each guy is just worse than the one before – so Caleb, who can’t ever get past date 4, suggests they fake date to practice. Turns out, practicing turns into something more – who knew!

What I liked: There’s a part near the end where she has this list, and it’s just the sweetest.

What I disliked: It was a little spicier than I typically listen to on audio – I would have preferred to read on paper so I could skim through some sections – but it’s a great third book in this series!

Genre: Small town, fake dating, open door romance.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and it’s a good series!

In the Weeds

What I read: In the Weeds by B. K. Borison

Why I picked it up: Y’all know I love a good series, so when I loved the first one, I had to start the second right away – good thing I had enough borrows on Hoopla to get all three this month!

How I read it: On audio at 1.75x today while getting ready to go on my trip and while in the car.

What it’s about: Beckett, one of the partners in Lovelight Farm, met Evelyn back in March when they were both there for a conference. He didn’t see her again until she showed up in November to do a feature on the farms. Now she’s back to “find her happy” and turns out, it might be him!

What I liked: I liked that there was a bit of story here for the farm, it was a great setting for the first book, and I liked going back to it in the second.

What I disliked: This was a little steamier than I typically prefer on audio – and a lot of their relationship was driven by “almost” sexual encounters. It felt like the story was a reason to write a steamy romance, not that the romance had some steamy elements.

Genre: Small town, open door romance.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and sure – if you’re a reader who likes a series.

Lovelight Farms

What I read: Lovelight Farms by B. K. Borison

Why I picked it up: I saw it on Hoopla, and it looked like something I’d enjoy: Christmas + Romance + Happily Ever After!

How I read it: On audio at 1.75x speed in about two days.

What it’s about: Stella bought a farm and now it’s in trouble because it’s being sabotaged. To “solve” her problem, she creates a new one by needing to get her best friend to act as her fake boyfriend to win a social media contest. Turns out their ten years as friendship were just the “getting to know you phase” of their romantic relationship.

What I liked: It was just a delight – the entire thing!

What I disliked: Her father is quite the jerk. I didn’t love his character and he never redeems himself.

Genre: Christmas, open door romance, small town.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes – I’m also super glad this is a three book series (so far) and that I have the next two already downloaded.

The True Love Bookshop

What I read: The True Love Bookshop by Annie Rains

Why I picked it up: I was looking for books on the new release shelf, and I can hardly resist a book about a bookshop so I picked it up.

How I read it: On paper over a few days, it was good but didn’t grab me.

What it’s about: Tess lost her husband three years ago, and is now beginning to heal and wonder what he was doing in a town she didn’t know anything about the night he was killed. River’s questioning it as well. But will these two sworn enemies be willing to work together to find the answer to this mystery?

What I liked: I liked the mix of a little mystery sleuthing into this romance.

What I disliked: The writing wasn’t all that interesting, it felt a little like a Hallmark movie script.

Genre: Chaste romance, books about books, grief.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and not sure you should waste your time.

Good Morning, Monster

What I read: Good Morning, Monster by Catherine Gildiner

Why I picked it up: Anne Bogel recommended it last week for people who liked Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, which I did.

How I read it: On audio while driving – in large chunks, which I’d recommend.

What it’s about: The author is a retired psychologist from Toronto, and she chooses five “psychological heroes” from her career to profile. Each story is unique while also a little interconnected since she has learned things from each person that she has put into practice in other areas of life.

What I liked: I appreciated seeing the entire arc of their story between 1 and 5 years of their lives as they worked through childhood abuse, trauma, and more.

What I disliked: I disliked that any child has had to undergo any of the terrible, awful, unloving, abusive events these five people did.

Genre: Memoir, self-help.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and absolutely. Be aware of the triggers, but this is a good listen.