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!

Close Enough to Touch

What I read: Close Enough to Touch by Colleen Oakley

Why I picked it up: Who knows. I reserved it on Libby like 9 months ago, then decided to stop reading ebooks because they were making my eyes tired and suspended it for six months. Downloaded it this week.

How I read it: On ebook.

What it’s about: Jubilee has a rare genetic disease where she’s allergic to people. It’s activated when she touches them skin-to-skin or eats something someone else has eaten from. After almost dying after her first kiss, she became a hermit for almost a decade. Then her mother dies and she needs to get a job. That’s when everything changes.

What I liked: Jubilee is restricted in how she connects with others but she does connect, I loved reading those instances.

What I disliked: The epilogue is too short.

Genre: Fiction. Sort of a love story but not really.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes!! This is excellent!! I don’t have an allergy to other people, but I do understand a bit of what it’s like to have very little physical contact with others and the desire and need for connection.

What You Wish For

What I read: What You Wish For by Katherine Center

Why I picked it up: I needed some fun fiction to listen to on audio during my trip this week and I knew this love would be a delight.

How I read it: On audio (but previously on paper)

What it’s about: The beloved principal and founder of the school where Sam works dies suddenly and Duncan is brought in as the new leader. Except he’s nothing like the fun Duncan Sam remembers from when they worked together in California. Something’s different. The book is about how to choose joy, even when you’re suffering. Even when it’s the hardest choice you’ve made that day.

What I liked: The school environment. I wish I was creative enough to work in something like that, and also that it was a real school I could send my future children to!

What I disliked: The move toward safety and security this is prison like!

Genre: Finding Yourself, Choosing Joy, fiction with great life lessons.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and YES!!

The Good Luck Charm

What I read: The Good Luck Charm by Helena Hunting

Why I picked it up: I’ve read this author before and I knew it would be a fun, quick read.

How I read it: I started on audio, then filled in with kindle, with a little audio in the mix toward the middle.

What it’s about: It’s been eight years since things with Ethan had ended for DJ. In those years she started going by Liliah, got her nursing degree, met someone, got married, and divorced. He got drafted to the NHL, traded, and is now home because his dad is sick and most of his teams are sick of him too.

What I liked: I liked the connection to their past, seeing how her family has grown, and her interactions with patients and friends. I wanted more of that and less “scoring” descriptions.

Genre: open-door romance with a bit of dysfunctional family (is that a genre?)

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and no, not really. I’d give this one a pass if I were you.

The Holiday Swap

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This was my pick for our December read for book club when a “sweet Christmas book” was requested. It definitely delivered!! Along with so many great food scenes!!

Cass and Charlie decide to swap lives for a week. The identical twins haven’t done this in years, and for good reason! They’re both pastry chefs/bakers. Each find a new voice during their time as the other. The ending is super delightful and definitely something I’d be interested in watching!!

I also composed a book club menu inspired by their pastry creations!!

“Oh no, she thought. We could have a problem here.”


Beth & Amy

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This is the second in this modern retelling of Little Women series, which really need to be read in order (and I think probably back-to-back, which I did not do).

Jo’s getting married to Beth and Amy make their way home. They’ve each got a secret that will shape the family’s next few years.

Beth is sick, not like in the original – but an exploration of what an eating disorder does to a person and what might have led to it was done well. The recovery is a bit quicker than it would be in reality, but there are only so many pages after the climax of a story!

Amy is in love with someone who’s always been off limits, and who’s hurt her deeply in the past. Rather than being angry with her, they’re all delighted that their beloved Trey is her beloved.

It’s sweet and delightful … but if you dislike retellings, then stay away, this is not for you!

“Our mother, who never took a day’s vacation in her life, had encouraged all of us girls to work hard and follow our dreams. Meg was the perfect mother to two perfect children. Jo was a bestselling author. Beth was a budding country star. And I … I made accessories. It didn’t matter how many Instagram followers or employees I had. In my family’s eyes, I was still little Amy, playing with scraps from Miss Hannah’s quilting bag.”


Sunrise by the Sea

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This was just on the new release shelf at the library and I couldn’t resist. The first three books in this series follow Polly and Huckle and their lighthouse and bakery on this small island. This installment features Marissa and Alexie. Two individuals coming to the end of the world on this island at the end of their rope.

What follows is beautiful (and not so beautiful) piano music, healing from grief and anxiety, and lots of amazing food.

It was a delight. And had just enough Polly and Huckle so give some satisfying windows into their bakery and lighthouse. Also I really want some seriously good pizza right now!!

“‘It’s okay,’ said Marisa, who had managed to calm herself down, and was wondering if people had always been so strange and she just hadn’t noticed, or if the world really had changed that much while she’d been sitting alone in her bedroom in Caius’ flat.”


The Jam and Jelly Nook

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After reading the third in this series as a stand-alone I didn’t think I’d pick up the other ones. But as luck would have it, it was on the shelf right there when I was at the library last week.

It’s a sweet story about a 30-something widow who finds someone. Their meeting starts at the police station when their teens are picked up for trespassing.

She helps his daughter and he helps her son … both find their way in a world without a parent of their same gender. It’s sweet and lovely!!

“‘How do you know her?’ ‘Funny you should ask.’ Emory walked over to the counter and rested his elbows on it. ‘I met her late last night at the police station.’”


To Sir, With Love

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“You’ve Got Mail” retellings are my favorite kind of retellings!! This one involved a champagne store, an artist, an entrepreneur, and a dating app.

It was lovely. It was a great airplane ride home slash waiting for laundry to get done read.

There’s nothing not to love!!

“Not the life I imagined, but it is a good life. And I’d be lying if I didn’t take a lot of pride in what I think of as my personal superpower: the ability to accept and embrace things as they are, not as I wish they could be.”


Maybe In Another Life

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This month’s book club choice was so good. It’s two simultaneous timelines for Hannah’s life based on a choice she made her first night out in Los Angeles. I thought it would be hard on audio, but it was perfect. (The narrator was a tad bit of a slow speaker so I had to speed her up to 1.25x.)

It got me thinking about choices and inevitability. Some characters show up no matter what but their role is different in each timeline. Somethings happened no matter what. It was an interesting read. I do think I needed to write a timeline and then cross reference items from each timeline.

“Sometimes I worry I’ll never find a place to call home.”