December Reads and Reviews

December was a huge reading month for me! I was on a really good roll with some great books, and I ended up reading 7 (which might be a record for me). Here's what I read and my thoughts on each book-


The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can't imagine working anywhere else. But lately it's been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who's fresh off a journalism master's program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it's this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it's not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.

I loved this book!! I've been reading a lot of duds lately but this one was so enjoyable. I really connected with both of the main characters, and the side characters were developed enough to know who everyone was (except for about half of the coworkers..couldn't keep them straight) without taking too much of the main plot. I also thought it was really clever having this set in public radio, which is not an area I'm familiar with even though I LOVE NPR and podcasting. The mix of transcript and reviews with regular story was also well done. The chemistry was fantastic and was just steamy enough for me. Love, love, love!! 

My Rating - 5/5


Verity by Colleen Hoover

Lowen Ashleigh is a struggling writer on the brink of financial ruin when she accepts the job offer of a lifetime. Jeremy Crawford, husband of bestselling author Verity Crawford, has hired Lowen to complete the remaining books in a successful series his injured wife is unable to finish.

Lowen arrives at the Crawford home, ready to sort through years of Verity's notes and outlines, hoping to find enough material to get her started. What Lowen doesn't expect to uncover in the chaotic office is an unfinished autobiography Verity never intended for anyone to read. Page after page of bone-chilling admissions, including Verity's recollection of what really happened the day her daughter died.

Lowen decides to keep the manuscript hidden from Jeremy, knowing its contents would devastate the already grieving father. But as Lowen's feelings for Jeremy begin to intensify, she recognizes all the ways she could benefit if he were to read his wife's words. After all, no matter how devoted Jeremy is to his injured wife, a truth this horrifying would make it impossible for him to continue to love her.


Raced through this book because it was so captivating and suspenseful! I always love a book within a book and this was unlike any I’ve read before. Very dark and twisted but I didn’t find it overly gruesome (I’m very squeamish) but will definitely put a bad taste in your mouth at times. The ending was kind of unexpected (I knew something like that was coming but still surprised me). Wish we got a better resolution!!

My Rating - 4.5/5


Alaskan Holiday by Debbie Macomber

Before beginning her dream job as sous chef in one of Seattle's hottest new restaurants, Josie Avery takes a summer position cooking at a lakeside lodge in the remote Alaskan town of Ponder. Josie falls for the rustic charms of the local community--including Jack Corcoran, the crotchety keeper of Ponder's famed sourdough starter, and, in particular, the quiet and intense Palmer Saxon, a famed master swordsmith.

Josie and Palmer become close during the long Alaskan summer days, but Josie knows that, come fall, she'll be returning to reality and the career she's worked so hard for. Palmer, on the other hand, would like nothing better than to make Josie his wife and to keep her in Ponder. But Josie can't imagine abandoning her mother back in the Emerald City and sacrificing her career to stay in this isolated town--not even for a man she's quickly coming to love.

Fate has other plans. Josie misses the last boat out of town before winter sets in, stranding her in Ponder and putting her dream job at risk. As the holidays approach, Josie and Palmer must grapple with the complications that arise when dreams confront reality, and the Christmas magic that can happen when they put their faith in love.


I randomly picked this up from the library because I wanted a cozy book to read over the holidays, and the premise sounded great. It was definitely an easy, festive book, but I didn't really enjoy the actual writing. Felt too cheesy and not enough depth to really connect with the characters. Bit too traditional for my taste.

My Rating - 2/5


Shipped by Angie Hockman

Between taking night classes for her MBA and her demanding day job at a cruise line, marketing manager Henley Evans barely has time for herself, let alone family, friends, or dating. But when she’s shortlisted for the promotion of her dreams, all her sacrifices finally seem worth it.

The only problem? Graeme Crawford-Collins, the remote social media manager and the bane of her existence, is also up for the position. Although they’ve never met in person, their epic email battles are the stuff of office legend.

Their boss tasks each of them with drafting a proposal on how to boost bookings in the Gal├ípagos—best proposal wins the promotion. There’s just one catch: they have to go on a company cruise to the Gal├ípagos Islands...together. But when the two meet on the ship, Henley is shocked to discover that the real Graeme is nothing like she imagined. As they explore the Islands together, she soon finds the line between loathing and liking thinner than a postcard.

With her career dreams in her sights and a growing attraction to the competition, Henley begins questioning her life choices. Because what’s the point of working all the time if you never actually live?


Cute book and story line, easy read. My favorite parts were all the excursions and talking about the Galapagos (when can I galapa-go???? sorry, bad joke), as well as the crazy Russian and Graeme!! Henley, on the other hand was so frustrating and immature. Did not like her at all and wish it changed narrator! Her struggles at work with being passed over for opportunities or getting ideas stolen is definitely relatable, so made me like her just an ounce more. But seriously girl needs a therapist to work out her issues.

My Rating - 3/5


This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens

Down-to-earth baker Minnie Cooper knows two things with great certainty: that her New Year’s birthday has always been unlucky, and that it’s all because of Quinn Hamilton, a man she’s never met. Minnie and Quinn were born at the same hospital just after midnight on New Year’s Day thirty years before, and not only did he edge her out by mere minutes to win the cash prize for being the first baby born in London in 1990, but he stole the name she was meant to have, as well. With luck like that, it’s no wonder each of her birthdays has been more of a disaster than the one before.

When Minnie unexpectedly runs into Quinn at a New Year’s party on their mutual thirtieth birthday, she sees only more evidence that fortune has continued to favor him. The handsome, charming business owner truly seems to have it all–including the perfect girlfriend. But if Quinn and Minnie are from different worlds, why do they keep bumping into each other? And why is it that each frustrating interaction somehow seems to leave them both hoping for more?


Cute story and concept but I didn’t really connect with the characters or particularly like them. There was a lot that happened and a lot of jumping around in the timeline so it just felt very chaotic. I was also hoping it would be more festive since a lot of people recommended it for a Christmas read, but most of it happened in other times of the year. Overall it was unfortunately a miss.

My Rating - 2/5


Golden Girl by Elin Hilderbrand

On a perfect June day, Vivian Howe, author of thirteen beach novels and mother of three nearly grown children, is killed in a hit-and-run car accident while jogging near her home on Nantucket. She ascends to the Beyond where she's assigned to a Person named Martha, who allows Vivi to watch what happens below for one last summer. Vivi also is granted three “nudges” to change the outcome of events on earth, and with her daughter Willa on her third miscarriage, Carson partying until all hours, and Leo currently “off again” with his high-maintenance girlfriend, she’ll have to think carefully where to use them.

From the Beyond, Vivi watches “The Chief” Ed Kapenash investigate her death, but her greatest worry is her final book, which contains a secret from her own youth that could be disastrous for her reputation. But when hidden truths come to light, Vivi’s family will have to sort out their past and present mistakes—with or without a nudge of help from above—while Vivi finally lets them grow without her.


This was my first book by this author and I thoroughly enjoyed it! There were so many different plot lines that wove together so beautifully with no loose ends or pieces that didn’t make sense (minus a minor cliff-hanging ending but it was needed for the story to make sense). Some parts were predictable but getting there was still fun. Plus- all the imagery and descriptions of Nantucket were amazing and I can see why people love these books!

The only thing that bothered me was how meta everything felt- the book is about an author who writes about Nantucket and her last book is called golden girl. It also felt like the author was writing about herself and it felt a little creepy and odd to me and I couldn’t get that out of my head (especially because the author in the book also uses a lot of her own life and real stories in her books. Hmmmmm)

My Rating - 4/5


Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Malibu: August, 1983. It’s the day of Nina Riva’s annual end-of-summer party, and anticipation is at a fever pitch. Everyone wants to be around the famous Rivas: Nina, the talented surfer and supermodel; brothers Jay and Hud, one a championship surfer, the other a renowned photographer; and their adored baby sister, Kit. Together, the siblings are a source of fascination in Malibu and the world over—especially as the offspring of the legendary singer, Mick Riva.

The only person not looking forward to the party of the year is Nina herself, who never wanted to be the center of attention, and who has also just been very publicly abandoned by her pro tennis player husband. Oh, and maybe Hud—because it is long past time to confess something to the brother from whom he’s been inseparable since birth.

Jay, on the other hand, is counting the minutes until nightfall, when the girl he can’t stop thinking about promised she’ll be there. And Kit has a couple secrets of her own—including a guest she invited without consulting anyone.

By midnight the party will be completely out of control. By morning, the Riva mansion will have gone up in flames. But before that first spark in the early hours before dawn, the alcohol will flow, the music will play, and the loves and secrets that shaped this family’s generations will all come bubbling to the surface.


I feel like this is an unpopular opinion -at least in my circle of readers-but I LOVED this book! Probably my favorite TJR book that I've read so far. I loved how the two parts of the book were completely different- the first one covering the past of how Mick and June got together and about the kids growing up, while also covering current day set up for the party; the second one jumping from guest to guest as the party quickly gets out of hand. I couldn't put it down and loved all of the Rivas (except for Mick, obviously) and their relationship with each other. I want a followup book of Nina and whatever happens to her next.

My Rating - 5/5



What did you read in December?

What was your favorite book from 2021


linking up with Steph & Jana to show my books!

Comments

  1. I loved Verity!

    Malibu Rising was not my TJR favorite but I know most others enjoyed it.

    Love all the dog reading friend photos!

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  2. I loved Malibu Rising, too :) I still need to get my hands on This Time Next Year, The Ex Talk, & Shipped!

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    Replies
    1. They're all so good! I think if you liked Malibu Rising you would like them as well.

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  3. You read some really good books! I really enjoyed The Ex-Talk, Verity and Shipped. I wasn't a big fan of Malibu Rising and I prefer the author's earlier books.

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    Replies
    1. Glad we had a couple in common that we both liked! Agree to disagree on Malibu Rising ;)

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  4. I absolutely loved Malibu Rising! But I love everything she writes.

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