The Matzah Ball

Goodreads

What I read: The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

Why I picked it up: I think Annie Jones read this and loved it so much I just had to read it too. And I love Christmas Romances so diving into a Jewish tradition is fun!

How I read it: The hardcover from the library.

What it’s about: Rachel is a secret Christmas Romance writer, a good one too!! But her publisher doesn’t want to renew her contract for another Christmas Romance novel, they want a Hanukkah Romance. The only problem is no one reads those, and, according to Rachel, Hanukkah doesn’t have the same magic as Christmas. The book takes place over the 8 nights of Hanukkah while she helps her camp archenemy plan the first Matzah Ball.

What I liked: I loved the traditions interwoven throughout, only someone in love with her faith could write a book that integrates faith and family and tradition so well.

What I disliked: I appreciated that the main character has a chronic disease, and it was part of the book. However, I felt like I was reminded of it on every single page.

Genre: Hanukkah Romance, closed door.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes! If you love love stories, holiday romances, or want to see characters with a chronic illness, this book is for you!!

Laundry Love

Goodreads

What I read: Laundry Love by Patric Richardson

Why I picked it up: Anne Bogel recommended this awhile ago saying it was one of her favorite books ever. I thought “a book about laundry, no thank you” until the other day when she recommended it again.

How I read it: On kindle, from the library with tons of highlights. Maybe I should have just bought it…

What it’s about: Laundry, stain removal, textiles, washing, drying, and disco ball advocacy (read it and you’ll find out).

What I liked: The massive amount of tips and ease of use of them. I’ve been converted and will be doing some things differently. I’ll be on a quest to become a master stain remover!

What I disliked: Almost nothing, this was a fantastic read.

Genre: Household Self-Help, if that’s a category, with a little bit of a cookbook! Recipes worth the stains they gift you!

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and if you wear clothes, this book is for you. If you don’t wear clothes (and are not an infant or a toddler), start, then buy this book so you know how to care for them!

Act Like A Lady

Goodreads

What I read: Act Like A Lady by Becca Tobin, Jac Vanek,& Keltie Knight

Why I picked it up: A good friend recommended it for our monthly book club and since it was immediately available from the library I downloaded it out of curiosity.

How I read it: Via Kindle over a couple weeks.

What it’s about: Jac, Becca, and Keltie have a podcast and show called LadyGang where they talk all things ladies, support for women, normalizing things normally not spoken about, and creating community. The book dives into Love, Self, Career, and Friends. Each section includes their own personal stories as well as advice.

What I liked: I appreciate anything to helps you normalize the life of being a woman. All of the little oddities that seem to happen to us all but no one ever talks about because it’s not “lady-like” and therefore leads us all to believe we’re the only ones.

What I disliked: Most of the stories. I couldn’t help but think “do you see how your actions are the cause of your own unhappiness?” I thought this many times. My own life looks nothing like theirs and some of their advice, in my opinion, is quite harmful if you want a good relationship with a partner, work, friend, or even yourself.

Genre: Self-Help with a big side of celebrity worship.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️ and no. I’ll chat about it with the friend I’m buddy reading with, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you’re already really into their podcast. I won’t be exploring more from them.

When Sparks Fly

Goodreads

What I read: When Sparks Fly by Helena Hunting

Why I picked it up: Still on my quest to find easy to listen to books for travel, cooking, and walking. I’ve read this author before (and recently) so got this one too.

How I read it: On audio over the course of a two days while traveling at 1.5x speed.

What it’s about: Avery and her sisters inherited Spark House and run it together, but it’s really Avery’s passion. They lost their parents young in a car accident so they’re pretty slow to trust in relationships. Avery bought a condo years ago with her best friend Declan (who won’t admit he’s in love with her). She gets into a terrible accident and while recovering their relationship changes forever.

What I liked: Avery’s drive to recover and her love for her sisters and their passion in life. I also appreciated Declan’s desire to serve her when she got hurt. It showed he really loved her.

What I disliked: Declan’s propensity for one-night stands when he was just trying to convince himself he didn’t love Avery.

Genre: Open door romance with a lot of trust issues explored, most a little too quickly.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and maybe, if this is your genre. It’s the first in a planned trilogy (I’m assuming since there are three sisters). I think I’ll read the new ones so I can see what happens to them all.

The Summer of Sunshine and Margot

What I read: The Summer of Sunshine & Margot by Susan Mallery

Why I picked it up: I’ve liked Susan’s books before and need a steady stream of easy to listen to books on audio. Ones I don’t particularly need to pay attention to and can listen to instead of podcasts on walks, while traveling, or working around the house.

How I read it: On audio via walks, airports, and cooking.

What it’s about: Sunshine and Margot are fraternal twins who have been told since they were children that they’re cursed when it comes to love. This has become a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy, and they make poor choices when it comes to men. But this summer it will be different (until it all looks the same, but also turns out well)!

What I liked: I want to visit Alec’s house! A renovated monastery sounds like a dream home, and if I could purchase, live in, or just spend the night … I’ll jump at the chance. I also appreciated the sibling connection of Sunshine and Margot as well as Connor!! The cutest 8 year old!

What I disliked: There are some very open door scenes, which are not awesome for me on audio. Also everyone resolves their serious, deep issues with love and trust in one less than 15 minute conversation, which is a bit unrealistic.

Genre: Open-door romance with some great sibling relationships.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and not really, unless you need some mindless fiction and can listen at 1.5x speed on audio.

The Kindred Spirits Supper Club

Goodreads

What I read: The Kindred Spirits Supper Club by Amy E. Reichert

Why I picked it up: A friend online recommended it, and then I saw that I read and loved an earlier work of hers, The Coincidence of Coconut Cake.

How I read it: The paperback from the library on an airplane (sadly not on my way to Wisconsin where it is set).

What it’s about: Sabrina finds herself back home after a bad breakup and her job letting her go. She’s working for the woman who bullied her in high school and trying to dodge the ghosts who seek her family’s help with unfinished business. It’s not in her plans to tell anyone about this strange phenomenon, but meeting Ray wasn’t in her plans either.

What I liked: I appreciated the bit of magical realism and also a main character who struggles with anxiety. Ray was ever the gentleman, which was also nice to read.

What I disliked: Erika! She’s a terrible human being who, even when faced with the most delightful kindness, never changes her ways.

Genre: Romance with some magical realism, closed door.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and of course, this was a delight. It’s also making me want to leave little notes in books I get from the library letting the next reader know they’re in for a delight with this book!

The Bake Shop

Goodreads

What I read: The Bake Shop by Amy Clipston

Why I picked it up: I’ve read the other three in the series, I figured I would be delighted by the first!

How I read it: In less than a day in the hardcover.

What it’s about: Christiana has some of the best baked goods in the county, and when a booth opens up at the market where her cousins sell coffee, jam, and produce, she moves her road side stand to the market. Her booth neighbor, Jeff, quickly goes from irritating her to being the one God has set aside for her. It’s a sweet Christian love story.

What I liked: I love the friendship these cousins have, it’s why I keep coming back to the series.

What I disliked: Her father. I can get behind authority and hierarchy, but when one person (who is flawed) has all of the authority and is unwilling to listen to truth, I get a bit flustered reading it. He was so clearly in the wrong and would listen to no one. He almost made what he was afraid of happening happen.

Genre: Amish romance.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes, the whole series is a delight, but not necessary to read them in order. Books two, three, and four.

A Season for Second Chances

Goodreads

What I read: A Season for Second Chances by Jenny Bayliss

Why I picked it up: A Goodreads friend and an Instagram friend read it and loved it. Then I realized her debut was one of my favorite books of 2021!

How I read it: Paperback over a couple of days.

What it’s about: Annie finds her husband in a compromising position at table nine of the restaurant they co-own after hours one night. The last of many dalliances during their marriage. She moves out and finds a place by the sea for a few months to figure out her next move. The town is enchanting and soon she’s reopened the old coffee shop and making a go at a new venture. But there’s also the nephew of her landlord, John, who proves to be more than she imagines.

What I liked: I loved seeing Annie get her second chance at a new life with friends and family who aren’t trying to manipulate her to get what they want. The text messages were witty and a great addition. Also the reading together while apart!! Swoon!

What I disliked: Max!! He’s the absolute worst.

Genre: Romance with a “seasoned” protagonist.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes!! Loved it!!

No Words

What I read: No Words by Meg Cabot

Why I picked it up: It’s the 3rd in a series called “Little Bridge Island” that I’ve really liked in the past. There’s a strong focus on books in the series (a librarian before and now a book festival).

How I read it: On audio over the course of two days. It’s amazing how fast I can listen to an audio book if I just listen while making dinner, cleaning up, doing my daily neighborhood walk, and getting ready. It doesn’t hurt when I’m listening at 1.5x speed either.

What it’s about: The first Little Bridge Island Book Festival is finally here. The main character, Jo, is a children’s lit author of the beloved “Kitty Kat” series. She’s been invited but before saying yes ensures her rival, Will Price, will not be in attendance. He lives on the island, and after what he said about her in the New York Times she does NOT want to see him. Is he there? I’ll let you guess. The book takes place over the course of the festival with a delightful epilogue about what might happen at the 2nd Annual Little Bridge Island Book Festival!

What I liked: I likes Jo’s story and reading about her writing process. There was a great cast of characters featuring many different types of authors as well. I appreciated hearing a little bit about previous characters in this series as well (although it’s been a while since I’ve read the first two and I’ve read a lot of books in between).

What I disliked: The timeline – a LOT happens in this book in less than 48 hours. I’m not sure how they fit it all in. She woke up at 8 am, did some things for a few hours (lots of things described in detail including sleeping for a while) and then all of a sudden it was 10 am. No one could accomplish what she did in those 120 minutes. And that happened a lot throughout the book, which was annoying.

Genre: Romance with a side of “books about books,” closed door.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and sure, it’s a super cute series – not sure there’s a lot of meat to the story, but it was a fun listen!

The Christmas Wedding Guest

Goodreads

What I read: The Christmas Wedding Guest by Susan Mallery

Why I picked it up: Someone I follow on Goodreads must have liked it so I put this 2021 release on hold.

How I read it: In hardcover in about a day. I got engrossed last night before bed and stayed up past midnight finishing it.

What it’s about: Dena and Reggie (short for Regina) are from Wishing Tree, a town devoted to Christmas with rules about snowman and the “first official snowfall.” Dena inherited the B and B and teaches 3rd grade. A long term guest, Micah, and she become friends and more. She’s all but given up on finding her great love, but even a pregnancy on her own won’t keep Micah away from her. Reggie’s home just for a month or so to help her mom plan their renewal of vows. Her high school boyfriend, the great love of her life, has moved home too. They still have chemistry!

What I liked: I loved the town and its Christmas charm. I also loved the sisters, their bravery, ability to just tell the truth about what they were feeling, and the ways they treat everyone with great kindness.

What I disliked: There were just a few lines where I was like “why did that need to be here?”

Genre: Christmas romance, closed door, with a touch of sisters!

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and absolutely!! This was a delight and not super Christmasy, so you can read even outside of the season.