Home for the Holidays

What I read: Home for the Holidays by Sara Richardson

Why I picked it up: I got the second in this series weeks ago from the library and decided to read number one first.

How I read it: On paperback in just a couple of sittings.

What it’s about: Three flowers, three sisters: they’re invited to their aunt’s inn out in Colorado for Christmas and each say yes for a different reason. A rough engagement, a holiday when her ex has the kids, a broken heart for a baby that just won’t come. They reconnect with their aunt and each other.

What I liked: There are some aspects of a love story here but it’s really about the sisters, which I loved.

What I disliked: Their mother never redeemed herself, and that made me sad. I’m sure she and the one daughter’s fiancée will find much to complain about together.

Genre: Sisters, family saga, Christmas.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes, even in July when Christmas is months away!

Flying Solo

What I read: Flying Solo by Linda Holmes

Why I picked it up: I loved this author’s debut so I knew the second one would be for me too.

How I read it: On Kindle.

What it’s about: Laurie has been designated to go through her Aunt Dot’s house after her death. Hundreds of letters, photos, and more await her as she lives the last few months of her 30s in her first hometown. There’s a bit of an antique dealer heist and a reunion with her high school boyfriend. A lot of digging into the past!

What I liked: Laurie felt like she could be me. Her age, her independence, even her body type. I like seeing myself in a story without too much rearranging.

What I disliked: She’s incredibly independent, which is not what I disliked, but more so how I saw myself there. She couldn’t even really think of a world where she and Nick married or lived together. She wasn’t willing to give up everything for their relationship. And I thought about how hard it would be for me, at this stage in my life, to give up my house or my city or my independence, I still struggled that she was struggling too.

Genre: Finding oneself, friendship, older protagonist, closed door.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and definitely. This is a good one!

Beach House for Rent

What I read: Beach House for Rent by Mary Alice Monroe

Why I picked it up: It was on the “beachy reads” shelf at the library last time I was there and looked good. It’s the 4th in a series but I read it anyway before reading the other three, which I don’t think I’ll do.

How I read it: On paper in a couple of days.

What it’s about: It’s a story of anxiety, grief, finding oneself, falling in love, and letting go. It follows Cara and Heather, an unlikely pair. This is Heather’s first time away from home, and she’s not happy about it until she meets Bo. Cara’s story takes a turn when her husband goes out for a run and everything changes.

What I liked: I liked how the stories intertwined and the women became friends. They needed each other in order to grow.

What I disliked: The timeline was off in some points. It felt like a lot of time had passed but only a day had or no time had passed but three weeks had.

Genre: Women’s fiction, closed door romance, friendship, grief.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and definitely.

California Girls

What I read: California Girls by Susan Mallery

Why I picked it up: I’ve liked her books before and this was on the new release shelf at the library.

How I read it: On hardcover.

What it’s about: Three sisters dumped on the same weekend! The book is about how they work through all of that and come out stronger in the end.

What I liked: Each sister gets a unique story, which is nice. Even their mother finds a happy ending. The best men in this book are Daniel and Clark, and I wanted more of them!!

What I disliked: The mother and the oldest sister are a bit self absorbed and just not always kind. They’re kind of the worst.

Genre: Women’s fiction, closed door.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes.

Happiness for Beginners

What I read: Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center

Why I picked it up: This was my very first Katherine Center book almost 4 years ago. I loved it then and was so excited for the new cover on the paperback that I bought all of her books last fall for my shelf. This is the last one I needed to reread this year.

How I read it: On paper in less than a day. I love this story!

What it’s about: Helen has decided that after a year of sulking about her divorce, she’s going to change her life during a three week wilderness adventure. She was not psyched that Jake, her little brother’s best friend, needs a ride to that same wilderness adventure. His six year long crush on her is also not part of her plan!

What I liked: I love how Helen realizes what she’s capable of and finds herself again. Jake is the sweetest on the hike, looking out for her without her realizing what’s going on.

What I disliked: Windy!! She’s the one who teaches Helen about happiness, but she’s clueless when it comes to how she comes off to others.

Genre: Finding oneself.

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

The Wedding Season

What I read: The Wedding Season by Katy Birchall

Why I picked it up: I found it on the library shelf and took it home because I liked the cover.

How I read it: On paper between the flight yesterday, staying up late last night to read “one more wedding,” and at the pool today.

What it’s about: Freya is dumped the day before her wedding because she “has it all together” and is “steady.” Matthew had enough wisdom to not marry someone he wasn’t interested in but not enough courage to break up with her before planning a wedding. Now for the next seven weddings on the calendar this summer, her friends Ruby and Leo give her a challenge to complete at each one. Something for her to focus on instead of the fact that she’s attending them alone when she intended to be going with her husband.

What I liked: There’s a lot of personal growth in the story. Her speech to Matthew is fantastic and made me want to be just like her when someone has wronged me.

What I disliked: Matthew is the worst! And not just because he dumped her the day before the wedding but because he’s just written as a terrible adult male, he’s so immature.

Genre: Closed door romance, finding oneself.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and I think so, this is a good one!

Meet Me in Paradise

What I read: Meet Me in Paradise by Libby Hubscher

Why I picked it up: Kate, who I follow in Goodreads, read it and loved it. She also gave the warning that it’s not a lighthearted romance, so I went in prepared.

How I read it: On paper in just a day or so.

What it’s about: Marin has always been a homebody while her sister Sadie is almost never home. They’re both grieving their mother’s sudden death from twelve years ago in different ways. What Marin thought was a sister’s retreat away becomes the weeks that save and change her life. This is a book about family, grief, cancer, young death, and healing love.

What I liked: I loved the sister relationship here and how Sadie takes care of Marin. Lucas also was a delight!!

What I disliked: Sadie thinks she has to do so many things on her own because her sister can’t handle hard things … but she’s wrong. That was hard to see play out.

Genre: Sisters, family, grief, love, closed door.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and definitely. I think this is one of my top books of the year. I’ve already been a bit weepy and this book brought me to tears repeatedly.

Black Girls Must Die Exhausted

What I read: Black Girls Must Die Exhausted by Jayne Allen

Why I picked it up: A goodreads friend shared this and the next recently and said they were amazing so I picked it up.

How I read it: On paper in just a couple of days.

What it’s about: Tabby’s journey starts at the doctor’s office where she learns her eggs are running out. As a Black woman in her early 30s who’s up for a promotion this isn’t good news. The next few months are filled with relationship concerns, friendship drama, and family loss.

What I liked: Her Grandmother Tabitha is an amazing character who’s had her own journey she’s just now revealing to Tabby. I appreciated seeing a perspective I’ve never known and loved how the author wrote about it so beautifully.

What I disliked: Chapter 34! So many poor decisions. One right after the other. This almost ruined the entire book for me, if I’m being honest. Only 1 star knocked off because it redeems itself a bit later and the beginning was so fabulous. Not just decisions I wouldn’t personally make, but ones I didn’t think were even in line with the character or her story.

Genre: Fiction, race, family saga, fertility.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes, I think it’s worth reading.

Get Lucky

What I read: Get Lucky by Katherine Center

Why I picked it up: I’m working through a re-read of her books, and found this audio on Hoopla

How I read it: On audio.

What it’s about: Sarah gets fired, visits Houston, and then decides to stay while she gestates her sisters babies. She ends up finding purpose, healing, and love.

What I liked: Sarah seems to find herself in the midst of this year at home, she discovers things about herself, about being brave, and becoming open to love. There were many times when I saw myself in aspects of her story.

What I disliked: The surrogacy plot line, I’d forgotten that’s what this book was about. It’s not my favorite.

Genre: Women’s fiction.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes because Katherine Center is the best, although this is my least favorite of her books.

Feels Like Family

What I read: Feels Like Family by Sherryl Woods

Why I picked it up: After liking the Netflix series, I decided to read the books.

How I read it: On paper.

What it’s about: Helen has a desire to be a mother, at any cost it seems. Erik becomes her “one and only” but only after some questionable decisions by all. Karen is floundering and finds family in town to help her out.

What I liked: I loved how everyone rallied around Karen to help her when she was in need. Her story was really beautiful.

What I disliked: Erik was a bit of a jerk for at least 80% of the novel. His temper, Un-dealt with past, and how he did want to hurt Helen so he decided to just use her instead of commit to her. Also Elliot’s mother is a pretty terrible example of a Catholic, which always gets me riled up. She’s the only Catholic and she’s completely intolerant of another human in need of family.

Genre: Women’s fiction.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️ and no, I might continue this series, but I’m going to need a little break.