Norah Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan

This was the second great book I brought on vacation (I foolishly only brought 3 and this and The Very Nice Box were so good I zoomed right through them and then I didn’t like the third. What was I thinking? Of course I should have brought more! Fortunately I grabbed an Anne Tyler from a Little Free Library, though I ended up spending more time reading the amazing vintage 1963 McCalls Cookbook that was in the cabin.)

This was the perfect fun summer book. Is it pretty much a fairytale? Yes. Do we like reading about outrageously wealthy people? Yes. Do we like to imagine ourselves somehow accidentally ending up mingling with the rich and famous? Yes. Though honestly, in this case, our main character isn’t exactly like regular old us to start with. She’s a writer of Hallmark channel romance movies. So she is accustomed to writing scripts and then one of them is getting made into a feature film AND it’s being filmed at her house (because the script is basically based on her own terrible marriage to a selfish guy. )

Anyway, sparks fly between her and the A list star who ends up staying at her house and inserting himself into her very ordinary life. (She has two kids and I think she was too perfect and wonderful a mother, and the kids too perfect and adorable and charming, but that made it fun.)

I really enjoyed this!

Sick of Shadows by Marion Chesney

This seems to be book #3 in the Edwardian Murder Mysteries and I believe I had read book 1 or 2 at some point. Delightful and light with interesting historical detail. Lady Rose should have learned by now to stop leaping to conclusions and know that Harry has good intentions, but I’ll keep reading all about her!

Fun fact: Marion Chesney is the first historical romance author I ever read. I started reading the School for Manners in high school and loved it. So I’ve often read books by her. But not until I logged this book in Goodreads did I ever realize that Marion Chesney and M.C. Beaton are one and the same!!

Adult Assembly Required by Abbi Waxman

Loved it! I couldn’t quite remember Nina Hill (other than that I’d loved that), and I was delighted to discover the same characters were in this one. Charming and sweet and funny.

To fully enjoy this story you’ll just have to accept, as with all the best heartwarming fiction putting together lots of characters and some in unlucky circumstances, that kind and spontaneous things do happen and happen to work out. Like finding yourself suddenly homeless after newly arriving in a city and your apartment burning up and then going to a cute bookstore and the people there just take you in and find you new friends and a place to live? With a bunch of other interesting characters? Maybe not the most realistic, but that’s why it’s FICTION.

Love, Comment, Subscribe by Cathy Yardley

I liked the premise of this but am most definitely the wrong audience. Romance between two former high school friends who’ve lost touch? Yes. Person felt they were a huge nerd and wanted to be something different? Yes. Making a living creating “content”? No thank you. They are both somewhat famous YouTubers trying to get bigger and bigger. One of them even has an agent.  I get it, they work hard. But I’m 50 and honestly I wanted to tell them both to get a real job. (In this case, I connected with the parents who were dismissive of their child’s career.) And mostly where that hindered me from enjoying this was the big “collaboration” they were working so hard on. I just thought it was dumb. Like really really dumb.

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.