Hadley Beckett’s Next Dish

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A friend recommended this on the ‘gram a few weeks ago so when I was in need of an audiobook to do some housework and lawn mowing to I downloaded it over the weekend.

It’s sweet and delightful. A chaste romance with an extremely satisfying epilogue (my favorite)!

A fun listen and probably super quick read. There were some aspects of Max’s character that annoyed me and Hadley gets “fixed” by getting a man rather than working through her issues on her own … but all in all, a nice read with delicious dishes described and southern talk abounding!!

“I gasped, and regrettably muttered, ‘Well I never!’ I was always so disappointed in myself when southern colloquialisms dripped from me freely in the most stressful of moments.”


Float Plan

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I’ve got a pile of Libby holds that came in this morning so I decided to start with a happy romance recommended to me (and everyone as an official endorser of this book) by Katherine Center when she joined our book club last month.

This book was about love and grief and letting go and holding on tight. It’s beautifully written, delightful to read, and I only wish I knew the islands better so I understood more of where they were actually sailing.

And I don’t quite want to become a sailor after this, but I would like a vacation day to the beach!

“Kind is one of the easiest things to be.”


Courting Mr. Emerson

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Mr. Emerson is forced into retirement at 55, but the problem is he doesn’t know how to slow down and be retired until Willow enters his life and shakes everything up.

This is a sweet love story of two people in their mid-fifties who have everything going for them and nothing but time. There’s a lot of home renovations which I loved!

There’s a conversion story that’s interesting. And tons of misunderstandings, which drive me nuts – just a ton of jumping to conclusions, but that’s life.

“He knew he was old-fashioned, but he honestly believed that computer technology had stolen the very souls of this generation.”


Sweetshop of Dreams

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My goal today was to finish three books, and here’s the third! The last of the “rom com bunch” I picked up at the library a few weeks ago.

I’ve read a bunch of Jenny Colgan, which are much better than this. It’s an early work and the sweets chapter intros had me struggling. There were also a few plot points that didn’t quite make sense. And there are like three recipes for how to make things that I’ve never even heard of, different candies.

I did love the relationship between Rosie and Lillian, which is why I’m giving it the rating I am! They were just a delight! We need more aunt/niece stories. I saw myself in both of them!

The story is okay, well, a great story, but not told amazingly. She’s definitely become a stronger author over the course of time!

“Rosie often felt that she’d missed a meeting every other girl in the world had had when they were about fourteen about how boyfriends and girlfriends actually worked. […] This is how to tell who fancies you. This is how to talk to a guy you like without making a complete idiot of yourself. This is how to politely leave a one-night stand and find your way home. It was all a bit of a mystery to Rosie, and everyone else seemed to find it so easy.”



A few weekends ago a friend and I watched Dumplin’ on Netflix with Jennifer Aniston to pass the time when it was just too hot to do something outside. It was delightful – and got me thinking about the book. So I downloaded the audiobook and decided to listen this week on my trip. I’ve been in the car a LOT for work lately driving through Indiana farm country and needed more than just podcasts to keep my eyes open.

The book (as if you can be surprised) was a thousand times better than the movie (and the movie was a delight). I did need to listen on 1.5 speed though because the long, drawn out southern accent just wasn’t something I could stay awake for. Willowdean is a delightful character who embraces who she is – a fat girl – and doesn’t let the world tell her anything other than she’s made for this world. Except when it comes to two things: her mother and boys who are expressing romantic interest.

I related to her so much – and felt a sense of empowerment reading her words. A girl ready to take on the world no matter what the world says is supposed to be acceptable!

“There’s a pants option too, but the elastic waist on the pants was quite elastic enough to fit over my hips. I say the pants are the blame. I don’t like to think of my hips as a nuisance, but more of an asset.”


Managing Differences

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The first assignment in my pre-work for my Conflict Dynamics and Mediation training was to read five chapters of this book – being the overachiever that I am, I decided to read the whole thing. Mostly because I thought it would be helpful to understand the whole process of Self-Mediation not just for the course but as someone who doesn’t particularly like being in conflict or resolving them – just being part of resolved conflicts (I don’t think I’m alone in this!).

The book is very conversationally written – like Dr. Daniel Dana is giving a lecture and someone just wrote down what he said – he uses simple illustrations to outline complex topics. I appreciate his conclusion about “Common Courtesies” and will use concepts from throughout the book not just in my role as a trainer, but in my capacity as a human who is interdependent relationships with other people.

An excellent study – and a great resource for anyone who wants to have better relationships with friends, co-workers, spouses, neighbors, and children!

“It works even if you are skeptical, and it works even if you don’t understand why it works. It is only necessary that you make the deliberate choice to use this communication tool as it is designed to be used.”


The Theory of Happily Ever After

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I picked this up because it was recommended in the back of a book I read last week and liked. There were some elements of this that I loved: Sam, Maggie, Hallmark Movie binge watching sessions, happiness research, cruises.

There were also things that were terrible: jealous friends, controlling mothers, checked out fathers, manipulative boyfriends, jumping to conclusions, and way too many misunderstandings.

It was fine – had a Christian element to it – the most that happens is a quick kiss (that’s her best ever – but also her only). There was an element of getting back to one’s faith – but it was so weirdly done and combined with a Church that abandoned this woman – I really struggled with it. Fine, I guess – is my final take on the book. I hope the other one I got as a recommendation from that other book is better than this one was!

“Incidentally I don’t want to stalk him I don’t even really care that he’s getting married. I just want my life to look pretty again. Hopeful again. I want the data in my book about the science of bliss to be true. And it doesn’t seem to be true. It can’t be or cheaters and thieves wouldn’t always win. I’m the first to admin, I may be naive in the ways of dating, but really, did I deserve this?”


Early Morning Riser

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Annie Jones (host of From the Front Porch podcast and owner of The Bookshelf in Thomasville) recommended this a few weeks back. I put the audio on hold and then almost let it slip by without listening because I had such a hard time finishing the last audiobook I got. I’ve been focused more on podcasts when I have time to listen. I’m glad I dove in on Friday though.

This was a delight. It spans two decades. Jane moves to town to be their 2nd grade teacher (and is throughout the book). Within a few months of moving in she locked herself out of the house and Duncan came by to help (he’s a locksmith/jack-of-all-trades) and then stayed the weekend.

They were inseparable after until she pursued marrying someone else and then there was an accident and everything changed. the bulk of the book is from that point forward and how she rearranges her life to make up for the accident, which she believes is her fault (I don’t think it is, but that’s neither here nor there).

The listening experience was good. I did have to listen at 1.25 speed though because the narrator was SO SLOW I almost turned it off. The speed really helped! I also was able to listen in long chunks, which is how I best absorb fiction audiobooks.

“Was it possible that Jane’s whole life didn’t lead back to that one event? ‘I myself believe I have lived so long due to my avoidance of alcohol,’ Jane’s mother said. ‘That and I always vote for whichever presidential candidate seems most likely to win. It has saved me untold disappointment.’”


Between Two Kingdoms

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A friend recommended this awhile ago and then my sister-in-law shared after she finished saying it’s one of the best things she’s read about young cancer. Since she’s lived it, I stood up and paid attention, reserving it immediately.

Then it took me a week to read it because it was hard reading. I tried to enter with a sense of Listening to Understand something I’ve never experienced (and pray I won’t). I struggled to refrain from judgement at times thinking, “well, that seems to be making the whole thing worse” or “do you think that’ll fix your relationship?”

To be honest, I don’t know her or much about her situation (medically or relationally) – what I do think I’ve learned from this story is that suffering and death without a higher purpose (uniting ourselves to Our Lord, offering up suffering for a purpose, knowing that there’s more to this life than what we see on earth) can kill you – physically, mentally, and emotionally.

My heart went out to her when friends passed and she (nor they) had no concept of an afterlife. When she needed to do another 9 months of chemo after she thought she was done without any frame of reference for offering that for someone, asking for intercession, or uniting it with the Lord. When this life is all your living for, suffering and death are the things we want to avoid.

While these ideas were nowhere in this book, they reminded me even more to cling to them. I was also reminded about the Virtue of Presence. Sticking around when it’s hard for someone you love. Staying present when you just feel like you need a break. I hope I’ve done that for those I know who have been suffering, but I know I’ve fallen short more than once. I’m recommitting to do better beginning today.

“Cancer is greedy, I thought. It has ravaged not only my body, but every single thing I’ve believed to be true about myself, and now it has metastasized to our relationship, ruining what was good and pure between us.”


Oh – and she has a TED talk, it’s great: Check It Out

While We Were Dating

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Staying at a friend’s house this weekend and picked this up a few minutes after she finished it this afternoon. It’s a delight, like Jasmine’s other books. We get to see a bunch of our old favorite couples which is nice.

Ben meets Anna through work, she’s the talent for the ad he’s producing. From their very first meeting, she’s taken with him and he with her. It’s a sweet book full of good mental health references and funny encounters.

I read it in one day, such a fast read (much like the others in this loose series). and like the others, pretty open door.

“‘It was silly. I should have just…’ Ben touched his finger to her lips. ‘No more of that, remember?’”