Over the years, my reading changes have ebbed and flowed quite a bit (I touched on this more in this post!) and when I look back, the pandemic had a huge impact on my reading over the last few years. I was so used to enjoying a good book during my commute and when I got back from the office and then when we were in lockdown, I started reading even more. For a while, this worked for me and my schedule but all of a sudden things changed. Between the months of August and November (2022), I was barely reading.
I’d pick up a book, read a few pages, and then wouldn’t return to it for weeks. Over those four months, I started reading more books that were never to be touched again than I have in my entire life. Once December rolled around though, this changed. Maybe it was the books I was reading, maybe it was what was going on in my life, but last month I ended up reading five books and it felt GOOD! So, without further ado, here are the five books I read in December and my review of each.
What I Read in December
THE NO-SHOW BY BETH O’LEARY
Siobhan is a quick-tempered life coach with way too much on her plate. Miranda is a tree surgeon used to being treated as just one of the guys on the job. Jane is a soft-spoken volunteer for the local charity shop with zero sense of self-worth.
These three women are strangers who have only one thing in common: They’ve all been stood up on the same day, the very worst day to be stood up–Valentine’s Day. And, unbeknownst to them, they’ve all been stood up by the same man.
Once they’ve each forgiven him for standing them up, they let him back into their lives and are in serious danger of falling in love with a man who seems to have not just one or two but three women on the go…
Is there more to him than meets the eye? And will they each untangle the truth before they all get their hearts broken?
My Review: In The No-Show, we follow three women that are all jilted by the same man on Valentine’s Day. The author leads us to believe that men are awful and we then follow the three women along on their journey to figure out why he did what he did. Throughout the book, I was struggling to keep the three women straight but I still felt for them. After all, who wants to be stood up on Valentine’s Day? While I wasn’t loving this book, I found myself waiting to see what happened and what his excuse was and man, did O’Leary deliver! About 80% of the way through the book, we get the twist no one was expecting and fall in love with the one and only Joseph Carter. Did I love the story? No. Did I think the delivery of the twist could have been worked into the story better? Yes. But with that being said, The No-Show is a book that keeps you wanting more and the author delivers.
My Rating: 3.5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
A VERY MERRY BROMANCE BY LYSSA KAY ADAMS
Country music’s golden boy Colton Wheeler felt the most perfect harmony when he was with Gretchen Winthrop. But for her, it was a love him and leave him situation. A year later, Colton is struggling to push his music forward in a new direction. If it weren’t about to be the most magical time of year and the support of the Bromance Book Club, he’d be wallowing in self-pity.
It’s hard for immigration attorney Gretchen not to feel a little Scrooge-ish about the excess of Christmas when her clients are scrambling to afford their rent. So when her estranged, wealthy family reaches out with an offer that will allow her to better serve the community, she’s unable to say no. She just needs to convince Colton to be the new face of her family’s whiskey brand. No big deal…
Colton agrees to consider Gretchen’s offer in exchange for three dates before Christmas. With the help of the Bromance Book Club, Colton throws himself into the task of proving to her there’s a spark between them. But Gretchen and Colton will both need to overcome the ghosts of Christmas past to build a future together.
My Review: The boys are back and just in time for Christmas! I was so excited to read Lyssa Kay Adams’s latest Bromance Book Club book. In A Very Merry Bromance, we focus on country music start Colton Wheeler and the night he spent with Gretchen last year at a wedding. Similar to the other books in the series, we learn more about Colton and what he’s struggling with and we follow him on his journey to win over Gretchen. My one complaint about this book? I felt like a lot of the heavy topics mentioned weren’t covered as well as they are in the other books in the series! A lot of what happens in A Very Merry Bromance felt a little surface level but I still enjoyed it, just not as much as the others!
My Rating: 4/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A FLICKER IN THE DARK BY STACY WILLINGHAM
When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, Chloe’s father had been arrested as a serial killer and promptly put in prison. Chloe and the rest of her family were left to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.
Now 20 years later, Chloe is a psychologist in private practice in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. She finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to get. Sometimes, though, she feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. And then a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, and that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, and seeing parallels that aren’t really there, or for the second time in her life, is she about to unmask a killer?
My Review: Oh. My. God. After hearing so many good things about Stacy Willingham’s debut novel, A Flicker in the Dark, I knew it was going to be good but I didn’t realize how good it would actually be. I was immediately hooked and loved that it had a serial killer plot versus your typical murder mystery! There are a lot of twists and turns throughout the entire book that will have you suspecting multiple different people, especially when two local teenage girls go missing twenty years later and the original killer is behind bars.
My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
WISH YOU WERE HERE BY JODI PICOULT
Diana O’Toole is perfectly on track. She will be married by thirty, done having kids by thirty-five, and move out to the New York City suburbs, all while climbing the professional ladder in the cutthroat art auction world. She’s not engaged just yet, but she knows her boyfriend, Finn, a surgical resident, is about to propose on their romantic getaway to the Galápagos—days before her thirtieth birthday. Right on time.
But then a virus that felt worlds away has appeared in the city, and on the eve of their departure, Finn breaks the news: It’s all hands on deck at the hospital. He has to stay behind. You should still go, he assures her, since it would be a shame for all of their nonrefundable trip to go to waste. And so, reluctantly, she goes.
Almost immediately, Diana’s dream vacation goes awry. The whole island is now under quarantine, and she is stranded until the borders reopen. Completely isolated, she must venture beyond her comfort zone. Slowly, she carves out a connection with a local family when a teenager with a secret opens up to Diana, despite her father’s suspicion of outsiders.
Diana finds herself examining her relationships, her choices, and herself—and wondering if when she goes home, she too will have evolved into someone completely different.
My Review: Wish You Were Here starts at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic and it was really interesting to go back and relive those first moments of the pandemic. I found it really annoying that even though Diana (the main character) was dating a healthcare professional that couldn’t go on their trip to the Galapagos due to the pandemic, she decided to go anyways. As the book went on, I started to dislike Diana and how she handled many situations but the author did a wonderful job of throwing a twist in there! I wasn’t expecting the ending at all and loved that about this book.
My Rating: 3.5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫
LOVE & OTHER WORDS BY CHRISTINA LAUREN
Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.
But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother…only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.
Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.
My Review: I don’t know what took me so long to read this book, but I’m so happy I finally did! This second-chance love story alternates between the past and present of this friends-to-lovers story. Meeting as teenagers, Macy and Elliot bonded over their love of books but after miscommunication and a tragedy, they fall out of contact for more than 10 years. Fast forward to today, the two friends have a lot to discuss and Macy has a lot of explaining to do about her decade-long silence. I couldn’t put this one down!
My Rating: 5/5 ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️