Dear Emmie Blue

My friend and I both read Eight Perfect Hours and thought it was just “eh”. She was more disappointed than I was and kept telling me that Eight was especially poor given how good her first book, Dear Emmie Blue, was and that I should read that one. So I did and now I totally see why she felt that way. This book was a delight!

Emmie Blue has had a shit life in terms of family, so when she meets-via a balloon she lets go with her name and email address in it-a boy who now lives in France and they connect, it’s not just wonderful, it’s also what she needs. Over the years he became her best friend and she adores his family and was a welcome part of it. Now they are adults and Emmie has realized she romantically loves him and is shocked and dismayed when he asks her to be his best woman at his wedding-to someone else.

I thought this was really good and much more than just a “oh no I love my best friend” type story.  I cared for the characters and enjoyed each of their stories.

This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

Absolutely delightful! It was kind of weird to think that to be reading a story so exactly when it takes place-read in January 2021 and she is describing Christmas 2020 and December 31 2020– that means she wrote it set in the future, technically. (and then also a little weird because, with no mention of a pandemic technically it’s an alternate reality! I’m sure she had no idea that would happen when she wrote this.)
All the reviews are giving it comparisons to One Day and Miss You, both of which I loved, and I absolutely agree. I love a story where characters who know each other now crossed paths earlier in their lives and we get to see that (and then I spend the whole story worrying that they’ll never KNOW that. For some reason it is extremely important to me that they eventually figure it out.)

Quinn and Minnie were born within a minute of each other-first babies of 1990, but only one could be the first and win its parents a 50,000 pound prize. Minnie just missed out and not only that, but her precious name, Quinn, was taken by the other baby. Ever since she’s felt (and been told) that she has bad luck, especially on her birthday. On her 30th birthday she and Quinn meet for the first (?) time and sparks fly.

I really enjoyed this story, it was fun and thoughtful and I loved Minnie’s pie baking business.

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

I’ve never watched The Bachelor but man did I love this book! I was absolutely fascinated by the behind the scenes look both at reality television and also being quasi famous and making your living off the internet. And of course I was interested in and pleased by the whole fact that she was plus sized and what that meant for television and fashion. There are lots of great fashion details in the story.

One of the things I especially liked were the chat transcripts/twitter feeds, etc, that were interspersed. They were SPOT ON. (especially the podcast.)

This was funny and smart and just solid.

A Match Made in Mehendi by Nandini Bajpai

I can’t think of the last YA novel I enjoyed as much as this one. I loved everything about it.

Simi comes from a line of matchmakers and her mother definitely wants her to follow in her footsteps. After Simi helps nudge her cousin into a match her mom and aunt definitely believe she has the gift and want her to join them. Her mom and aunt have generations tested methods that her mom doesn’t believe technology can match. Simi’s super smart brother created an app that would be close to it and Simi and her best friend Noah get him to rework it to be an app they can launch to their school.

I liked the diverse cast of characters, the lovely friendship she has with Noah, and how naturally her Indian culture is just part of her life and easily shown-in the descriptions of what she wears, what they eat, celebrations, etc. None of that was a storyline-it just was. Much like Noah being gay and having a crush on someone he’s not sure returns the feelings–not an issue, just is.
I also liked the conversations and reflections Simi and her mom have about matchmaking and methods.

The whole story was just a terrific package!

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

What a delightful romantic story. Hugo is British, Mae is American, both are 18 and the cusp of heading off to college. Hugo is one of 6 children, sextuplets, which has been a huge part of his identity and also determined his future. He’s set to go to college with siblings at the local university, which has been in the works since their birth. Mae lives with her two dads is an aspiring filmmaker. She is crushed that while she was accepted to the college of her choice, she was not accepted into the film program. The two do not know each other, but Hugo has tickets for a train trip across the U.S. His girlfriend bought them for them, but the tickets are in her name, nontransferable, and now they are broken up. He can only take the trip if someone with the same name as his ex can go with him. Mae is that person and they meet for the first time at Penn Station as they board the train, ready to embark on the adventure of sharing a tiny cabin and a lengthy journey with a stranger.
I love stories that are journeys both in actuality (a train trip, a road trip, etc.) and also clearly journeys of self (coming of age, falling in love, self discovery.) That’s what this story is and it’s lovely and romantic and also really, really made me want to take a nice train trip some day.

A Lady’s Guide to Gossip and Murder by Dianne Freeman

I was so excited to only just recently read the first book and therefore be able to have #2 give me some instant gratification by being available. I had hoped for a bit more of a  Marion Chesney’s  School for Manners vibe with the series set up at the end of book #1 (helping young American ladies through a London Season), but I still found this very satisfying. As before, the countess and her special friend, George, end up investigating a crime, in this case the unseemly murder of an acquaintance. Countess Harleigh’s independent household is filling up with women-in addition to her aunt, there is also her young sister, and the sister’s friend. All of the women pitch in with the mystery solving in some way, while also working on their own potential matches.
I can see this will be a reliably delightful light historical mystery series.

A Lady’s Guide to Etiquette and Murder by Dianne Freeman

A perfect book to fall into my hands on summer vacation! Set in 1899, plenty of historical detail about society, London Seasons, gentleman’s clubs, calling cards, chaperones, rides in the park, servants, etc.  What was so enjoyable about this was that our heroine is a young widow (her husband was a philanderer) who has plenty of spunk and stands up for herself after the required year of mourning by purchasing her own home in London. Much to the dismay of her brother-in-law and sister-in-law, both of whom rely on her large purse to keep the family estate going. Conveniently, Frances is independently wealthy. And American. That’s right-she’s an American heiress who married a titled British man! Juicy. (If you haven’t read The American Heiress by Daisy Goodwin, go do so.) This is actually a mystery-poor Frances is being set up all over the place, plus there are some robberies happening at the society homes. She takes on meddling and solving herself, along with the handsome next door neighbor.

I enjoyed this immensely and am THRILLED there is already a sequel available at my library and I love the direction this series is going in.

Flatshare by Beth O’Leary

You know what? This was delightful. Can you imagine sharing an apartment with someone that’s a 1 bedroom and the agreement is you get the evening and overnight hours and he has the daytime (due to work schedules this is possible.) ? Sharing apartments isn’t weird, but the whole setup that they’ll never meet and they are sleeping in the same bed.  Of course you know they’ll end up meeting and falling for each other, but that’s ok. I was glad that happened sooner rather than later and it turned out to have a weightier plot than you might expect, centering on her stalkerish ex-boyfriend.
I also enjoyed the guy’s subplot of helping out the seniors in the assisted living where he worked.

Solid and enjoyable.

Comics Will Break Your Heart by Faith Erin Hicks

I really like Faith Erin Hicks’s graphic novels so I was pretty excited to read this–even though it has not one single comic in it! and is about comics! I thought this was terrific and I hope she continues to write both graphic novels and traditional novels because she’s clearly talented at both.

This is set in a small town in Novia Scotia and apparently it is a rural small town. When they talk about leaving to go to Toronto it’s a really big deal, which was very interesting to me.
The set up is that the girl comes from a loving quirky family with an artistic mother. Her maternal grandfather helped create superheroes  that became huge and popular. Basically her grandpa was the Jack Kirby to Stan Lee. What was really neat about this book was how she inserted this fictional empire into our current actual society. For example, talking about a film being made out of the superheroes and basically it’s like the Avengers franchise, but I wouldn’t say it’s a “thinly veiled Avengers” because they actually mention Marvel and the Avengers.

Of course the cool LA boy who is sent to her town for the summer  and with whom she has a connection turns out to be the grandson of the other person who created the superheroes. Except his family retained the rights and made a fortune and are rich and famous, while hers scrapes by because her grandpa wasn’t fairly treated.

I very much enjoyed the talk about comics, the realistic coming of age stuff, and the budding romance.

One Day in December by Josie Silver

This was a delightful and satisfying decade long love story. On a dreary winter day close to Christmas Laurie looks out the bus window and sees a man at the bus stop. It’s a lightning fast love at first sight for both—but the bus pulls away.  After a year of hoping to find her mystery man (I guess they don’t have “Missed Connections”) it’s not a surprise to the reader that her very best friend’s new boyfriend is none other than “bus boy.”  The story continues for the next decade-checking in with the main characters every few months and alternating points of view between Jack and Laurie. There’s not just a love triangle because Laurie also has other romantic entanglements. This book felt a bit like a collection of all the things I like in British romances and movies and deliberate references to Love Actually and Bridget Jones’s Diary feel like a nice acknowledgment from the author that she’s aware of that. There’s a cheerful loud Aussie, drunk roommates, Christmas parties and whatnot, a woman eager to work in the magazine industry, and missed declarations of love. But you know what? I like all those things and so it was very nice to read a new book that had them all and I thought this was a good one.