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!!

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.

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.

Love and Other Words

What I read: Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Why I picked it up: It was on the shelf at the library and I’ve read and loved it before so I decided on a re-read.

How I read it: On paper in just a day and a half.

What it’s about: Macey’s mom died when she was ten, and she left her dad a list of notes for raising her. One of them is to find a weekend get away which in turn introduces her to Elliot. They’re each other’s first everything.

What I liked: I love the hidden library her dad creates for her.

What I disliked: Emma. I just disliked her.

Genre: Second chance romance, open door, books about books.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and definitely!

I’m Glad My Mom Died

What I read: I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jeanette McCurdy

Why I picked it up: I heard it was a terrible story written very well, and I appreciate an insight into the lives of actors.

How I read it: On audio at 1.5x speed while planting.

What it’s about: Jeanette tells the story of “before” her mom died and “after” through a series of short chapters that could all be considered short essays. It was awful to listen to, meaning the things she was put through were just things no kid should ever have to endure. Her mom made her act so she could live vicariously through her daughter, she taught her how to have an eating disorder, and she was abusive. She showered her until she was at least 16 giving her regular “exams” in the shower – for what purpose, the author still doesn’t know.

What I liked: I appreciated the insight into her life told in such a raw way.

What I disliked: It was horrifying to listen to – her mother wasn’t the only abuser in her life – and she experienced things no child or adult should ever have to endure.

Genre: Celebrity memoir, abuse.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and absolutely. Unless abuse or eating disorders are a trigger for you, then stay far away.

Temptation Ridge

What I read: Temptation Ridge by Robyn Carr

Why I picked it up: I’ve been slowly reserving the Virgin River books from the library and this one was next.

How I read it: On paper in two days after I finally started. I told myself I was going to start reading and then realized I had a bunch of ebooks with expiring loans, so I needed to read those first.

What it’s about: Shelby and Luke are the primary characters in this story. She’s moving to Virgin River for a few month’s break after her mother’s passing before med school, he’s there to finally fix up the property he bought with his brother seven years ago. They’re not what each other’s looking for, but it ends up it’s just what they need.

What I liked: I like visiting the town again. While each book has its own primary story, the real story is Virgin River. Everyone makes an appearance, and I like that kind of series!

What I disliked: Nothing.

Genre: Virgin River, small town, open door.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes, but I think only as part of the series. There’s so much backstory.

Lucky Leap Day

What I read: Lucky Leap Day by Ann Marie Walker

Why I picked it up: I liked another book by this author last month, so I borrowed another one by her this week.

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

What it’s about: Cara got dumped weeks before a trip to Ireland with her boyfriend, instead of cancelling, she goes to heal her broken heart. She comes home with a husband! The rest of the story is about how they fall in love and figure out how to make a vacation romance a lifetime romance.

What I liked: I loved listening to the Irish history and how it integrated into their story.

What I disliked: I wasn’t a fan of Samantha, she only treated Cara like a human once she got her some money from a new actor. Very transactional!

Genre: Holiday romance, closed door, Ireland.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and definitely! This was a fun one!

Bend Toward the Sun

What I read: Bend Toward the Sun by Jen Devon

Why I picked it up: I think someone I follow on Goodreads read and loved it, and it was available soon on Libby, so I put it on hold.

How I read it: On Kindle over two days.

What it’s about: Rowan has just received her doctorate in botany and is now looking to publish and continue her post-doc work. Rather than a big academia job, she ends up at the new-to-the-Bradys vineyard in southern PA helping them get the vines back in order. This is not part of her plan, but neither is Harrison (aka Harry). Her history has been full of disappointments in love, including her mother – this has colored her view of love, and her story with Harry becomes a lesson in love.

What I liked: It’s a beautifully written book, very descriptive, and really vivid. I felt like I was there, and now I want to go see a vineyard in southern PA with some sheep, a donkey, a great bed and breakfast, an adorable carriage house, and an amazing greenhouse with a side house.

What I disliked: The conflict in this book is very deep into the interior life of both characters. Some of it was hard to read.

Genre: Emotional abuse, grief, open door, family saga.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and definitely. I hope it’s the beginning of a series about the Brady boys!

Evvie Drake Starts Over

What I read: Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Why I picked it up: I loved it the first time I read it so I decided to listen with one of my favorite narrators.

How I read it: On audio at 1.75x while walking, cooking, sitting around, and everything else the past 24 hours.

What it’s about: Evvie’s husband died about a year ago, but that’s not the biggest thing that’s happened that needs grieving. Dean rents her spare apartment, and they help each other grieve.

What I liked: I love the period of time they spend apart, it says a lot about what it takes to heal.

What I disliked: Nothing, this book is a delight.

Genre: Grief, closed door, love story, healing.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and absolutely!! Great on paper and on audio.

Ban This Book

What I read: Ban This Book by Alan Gratz

Why I picked it up: I was looking for an available audiobook on Libby and this came up and looked interesting.

How I read it: On audio at 1.75x.

What it’s about: Amy Anne loves to read, and her favorite book is suddenly no longer available at the school library because it’s been “removed” – which is code word for banned. A mom didn’t like the content and now not only that book, but lots of books are being “removed” from her elementary school library. She and her friends start the “Banned Books Locker Library” and work together to fight this injustice.

What I liked: It was a story about fighting for what’s write, freedom of speech, a love for reading, and read by a narrator I really like!

What I disliked: It was hard reading the parts where her family tends to not see her, and almost ignore the uniqueness of her character.

Genre: Middle grade, books about books, justice.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and definitely!