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!
What I read: Seven Days in June by Tia Williams
Why I picked it up: Anne Bogel hosted a panel at a book festival she recorded and released on What Should I Read Next with Tia Williams and I was intrigued so I picked it up.
How I read it: On paper over four or five days.
What it’s about: Eva and Shane once shared a week long relationship in high school that altered them forever. Then they became writers and wrote about and to each other for fifteen years. Now they’re seeing each other for the first time and it all comes rushing back.
What I liked: I liked Audre, Eva’s daughter. She was a delight.
What I disliked: Their love story was not for me. The only good part was the epilogue.
Genre: Open door romance, chronic pain, recovery.
Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and maybe.
What I read: The Imperfects by Amy Meyerson
Why I picked it up: I liked the cover and downloaded it on Hoopla.
How I read it: On audio at 1.5x while planting bushes on my hill and working around the house over 4 days.
What it’s about: Their grandmother dies, and the email Bec sends to announce it to her family begins a reunion fraught with turmoil. Helen’s daughter and grandchildren have struggled with how to love each other, and now there’s a very large diamond coming between them. The story also includes a World War II story line as well, but there’s not a lot of confirmed knowledge about what happened to Helen and her mother, Flora.
What I liked: There’s a lot going on in this book, and I appreciated the varied storylines.
What I disliked: There’s a lot of distance between the family members throughout, and even when apologies are made, almost none of it is resolved. More like real life than a HAE story – which this one is not.
Genre: Family saga, dysfunctional family, World War II, grief.
Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes.
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.
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.
What I read: On the Way to Christmas by Sheila Robert’s, Melissa Ferguson, and Amy Clipston
Why I picked it up: I’m a Melissa Ferguson completist, so I was excited to read her Christmas short story sandwiched between these other two, new to me, authors.
How I read it: On audio at 1.75x speed (I think that’s my preferred audiobook speed) over two days.
What it’s about: It’s three short, chaste, Christmas romances all set in small towns – one even featuring a NC town! They’re all a delight!
What I liked: I like the train story – that was Melissa’s – it was interesting to think about taking a two week train trip across the country.
What I disliked: There’s a situation with a snake that a guy convinces the woman to have around her shoulders. For that reason alone, she should have thrown him right off the train – with his snakes!
Genre: Christmas, chaste romance.
Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and it’s a delight, definitely a fun Christmas read!
What I read: It’s Not You, It’s Them by Portia MacIntosh
Why I picked it up: I read something by her a few weeks ago and downloaded all of her available books on Libby.
How I read it: On Kindle in an evening and a morning.
What it’s about: Roxie and Mark get engaged, and now it’s time to meet his family. Except his family is still really set on him getting back together with his childhood sweetheart, Bea. Being snowed in doesn’t help the situation much – but neither does Roxie’s tendency to speak before she thinks or write about her life for all of the internet to see.
What I liked: There were some moments when Roxie was definitely in the right and being really manipulated and put down by her future in laws, but…
What I disliked: There were also a few times when she was ridiculous, and she really took things in the wrong context, expecting them to just bow to her glory without putting any effort into the relationship.
Genre: Family saga, closed door romance, rom com.
Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and maybe, not the most “laugh out loud rom com I’ve ever read” but not awful (ringing endorsement).
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!
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!
What I read: Save the Date by Mary Kay Andrew’s
Why I picked it up: I liked the cover so I downloaded the audio on hoopla.
How I read it: On audio at 1.75x between yesterday and today.
What it’s about: Kara owns her own flower shop with a heavy wedding business in downtown Savannah. She also has the cutest golden doodle, Poppy, who runs off right before a pretty tense bride needs her to drop flowers off for her wedding. These two events set off a series of events that challenge her business and her single relationship status.
What I liked: I really liked her and Jack, and I really want to go to her flower shop. I’d like to be her new assistant, if I’m being honest.
What I disliked: There was an incident with Kara and a new assistant where I thought Kara was really in the wrong. She treated the woman terribly – and the woman ended up treating her terribly too. Kara assumed that “everyone just loves dogs because I think my Poppy is a delight” – but not everyone does love dogs.
Genre: Southern romance, semi-open door.
Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and it was a fun read. There were some odd tech references since it was written in 2014, but otherwise I think it still works.