The Marriage Game

What I read: The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

Why I picked it up: I can’t remember.

How I read it: On paper in my new “regular reading routine”: start a new book at dinner, read before bed, finish when waking up in the morning.

What it’s about: Layla has a spectacular breakup and gets fired from her job all in the same week. She moves back home, sets up a new business in the office above her family’s restaurant, and then meets Sam. He helps her weed through her father’s list of potential husbands, but it’s them who end up falling in love.

What I liked: The story moved quickly, but there were so many holes.

What I disliked: I didn’t appreciate the way tradition was portrayed. It was both something that was important, but also ignored – especially when it just didn’t fit their narrative.

Genre: Enemies to lovers, open door.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️ and no, there are many other romances that portray this culture and even this romance trope better.

Funny You Should Ask

What I read: Funny You Should Ask by Elissa Sussman

Why I picked it up: I liked the cover when I saw it on the new release shelf at the library.

How I read it: On paper in three sittings.

What it’s about: Chani is invited to do a follow up on her viral article from ten years ago. The original launched her writing career, but it has always been clouded by one question, “what really happened that weekend?” Now she gets a bit of a do-over, but so does Gabe. He’s different now, less Hollywood, more himself.

What I liked: There’s this bookstore in Montana called “Cozy” that I really wanted more of. He gave her the perfect day there.

What I disliked: The double standard for men and women in Hollywood is on full display here. Everyone thinks she slept with him to advance her career, and no one believes her when she tells the truth: nothing happened. They just smile, nod, and judge her forever.

Genre: Multiple timelines, celebrity, writing, open door.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and I think it’s worth a read. Heads up for an open door scene at the end.

Evening Stars

What I read: Evening Stars by Susan Mallery

Why I picked it up: liked the first two in the series so decided to read them all.

How I read it: On hard back in big chunks over two days.

What it’s about: Nina has lived on the island her entire life. At 16 her mother got pregnant with her, and when she was 12 she started taking care of the household while her mother went off on buying trips for the antique store. Nina has had to be the adult for the majority of her life and it’s catching up on her.

What I liked: I loved Dylan. I appreciated his maturity, friendship with her, and overall character.

What I disliked: I didn’t love her mother, she never really redeemed herself either.

Genre: Women’s fiction, finding oneself, mothers and daughters

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and it’s a good stand-alone but better as part of this series since you get a bunch of clues to previous characters and how their stories have worked out.

Something Wilder

What I read: Something Wilder by Christina Lauren

Why I picked it up: It’s the new Christina Lauren!

How I read it: On hardcover, in one evening. I picked this up from the library at 4 before trying to get a pedicure (was unsuccessful) and finished staying up way too late.

What it’s about: It’s completely different than any of their other stuff!! Lily is a wilderness adventure host and finds her latest crew includes her lost love. They end up going searching for buried treasure while falling in love again.

What I liked: They’re break up ten years ago ends up being over a misunderstanding, but it’s worked out on days 1 & 2 of the trip. Always like when those things are cleared up early.

What I disliked: Terry!! That’s all I’ll say. He’s the worst.

Genre: Adventure, second chance romance, open door.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and it’s a good one!

The Summer Getaway

What I read: The Summer Getaway by Susan Mallery

Why I picked it up: I like her books, and it was on the new release shelf last time I was at the library.

How I read it: On hardcover today. It was a nice escape read.

What it’s about: Robyn takes the summer to go spend time with her Aunt Lillian as she comes to the realization she has no firm plans for her life. Everyone around her who’s having the slightest concern about life ends up following her.

What I liked: Robyn sounded like a delightful person who I thought “I could be a bit like her.”

What I disliked: Mindy and her decision to cheat, that’s not a story line I can get behind. There were two characters who seemed to struggle deeply with monogamy.

Genre: Family drama, open door.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and maybe, if you like this kind of thing.

The No-Show

What I read: The No-Show by Beth O’Leary

Why I picked it up: I’m a fan of Beth O’Leary. I listened to The Switch and then someone chose it for book club. I also loved The Road Trip and The Flatshare.

How I read it: On paper while flying this weekend.

What it’s about: Jane, Siobhan, and Miranda are all stood up on Valentine’s Day. Turns out it’s by the same guy: Joseph Carter. Most is not what it seems except that when love is on the line, everyone’s all in.

What I liked: I connected more with Jane than the other two woman, but appreciated all three stories after I figured out what was really going on, which took awhile.

What I disliked: The playing with timeline throughout felt unnecessary. It made me dislike Joseph Carter rather than want to understand him and what was going on. It’s written from the female perspectives but I think it’s really the story of him and love and grief.

Genre: Fiction.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and sure. Rather good, even with a weird structure.

The Road Trip

What I read: The Road Trip by Beth O’Leary

Why I picked it up: A fellow reader read and loved it, and I’m a fan of Beth’s work!

How I read it: On paperback over a few days.

What it’s about: Addie and Dylan met 3 years ago and dated for 18 months before breaking up in a dramatic fashion. Now they’re driving to a friend’s wedding together (after a series of unfortunate events) with three others in a very small car. The seven or so hour ride ends up taking almost two full days, but that’s just enough time to work through why they ended things in the first place.

What I liked: I liked seeing their “then” story through the eyes of both of them. It felt a little more authentic than only reading one perspective.

What I disliked: Marcus, what a jerk, or more realistically, a spoiled rich kid. He was awful.

Genre: Second chance romance.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ and yes, this was a good one!

The Friendship List

What I read: The Friendship List by Susan Mallery

Why I picked it up: I’ve been enjoying this author and the narrator is great!

How I read it: On audio throughout my trip with lots of driving in Illinois and Indiana this week.

What it’s about: Two friends have been stuck in a rut for years.

What I liked: Two friends who are seeking to be stronger women living a full life. Also I love a good epilogue, and one set six years in the future is just delicious.

What I disliked: Commentary on teens and sex and when they should be ready for what. I found it annoying to listen to.

Genre: Women’s fiction, finding oneself, friendship, grief, and family of origin rules. Open door romance.

Rating & Recommendation: ⭐️⭐️⭐️ and the narrator is great but the book isn’t a must read.

In a Holidaze

Find it on Goodreads

This is a re-read for me, but I couldn’t resist it on the shelf at the library for my Christmas reads pile.

It’s a time loop for the first third of the book with the final third showing how the main character takes charge of her life. It’s sweet and so much about family and tradition!

“I give advice as I quickly deliver hugs. ‘Kennedy, watch out for Miso on your way inside. Dad, once again, don’t eat the cookies. Everyone? Kyle has a new tattoo. It’s on his arm – a music note – and it’s very cool but don’t touch it, it’s healing. Ricky,’ I continue, ‘don’t worry about the Hendrick’s, everyone is fine with Bombay – and Aaron isn’t drinking anyway because he’s middle-aged and stressed about getting old. Speaking of hair, Theo, your haircut is great, but your hair wasn’t ever the problem. And Lisa?’ I say, and a twinge of guilt works through me because they’re staring at me with wide, worried eyes. ‘I love you – so much – but maybe let Aaron pick the music tonight.’ I pause. ‘And let Mom take the photos.’”


Love and Other Words

Find it on Goodreads

“A book you can read in a day” is one of my favorite genres. And two good ones in a row!!

Macy and Elliot met when they were 13 and promptly fell in love, but wouldn’t admit it until years later. Now, after 11 years apart, he shows up at a random coffee shop. And the world shifts on its axis. Everything changes.

It’s a delightful read about first loves that last. The dialogue is fantastic. The dad is just perfect.

“When we love, we love for good.”