The Holley Sisters of Thornthwaite Series #AVicarageChristmas #AVicarageReunion #AVicarageWedding #AVicarageHomecoming [Book Review]

January 28, 2022

The Holley Sisters of Thornthwaite Series by Kate Hewitt …..The “Vicarage” Series

Genre/Categories: Women’s Contemporary Fiction, Sisters, Family Drama, Village Life, England

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

As the title might suggest, each of the stories in the Vicarage series focuses on one of the four Holley sisters. Their father is the Vicar of Thornthwaite and Mom is the heart of this busy and complicated family. Each book in the series deals with a substantial theme or two including infertility, grief, social anxiety, finding your soul mate, broken relationships, unplanned pregnancy, forgiveness, reconciliation, etc. The strength of the stories and the thread that ties them together is the bond between the adult sisters and their commitment to family. Each book can be read as a stand alone, but as always reading them in order is a richer reading experience.

My Thoughts:


The Printed Letter Bookshop [Book Review] #ThrowBackThursday

January 20,  2022

The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay

The Printed Letter Bookshop (cover) by Katherine Reay

Genre/Categories/Setting: Contemporary Fiction, Books About Books, Women’s Fiction, Small Town, Bookshop

In 2020, I decided to systematically revisit my older review posts and update them. On Thursdays, I’ll be re-sharing a few of these great reads. Today, I’m re-sharing an engaging story of friendship, faith, and forgiveness, The Printed Letter Bookshop by Katherine Reay. This is on my lifetime favorites list!

I’m linking up today with Davida @ The Chocolate Lady’s Book Review Blog for #throwbackthursday.

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

“Madeleine’s happiest childhood memory is spending time at her Aunt Maddie’s house and her beloved bookshop. Suddenly, the families become estranged and Madeleine hasn’t seen her aunt in twenty years. After her aunt dies, Madeleine discovers she has inherited everything: the bookshop, the house, the car, and all the debt. At the same time, Madeleine’s career plans are in jeopardy and she begins to seriously investigate what saving the bookshop, moving, and a new plan for her life might involve.”

friendship…forgiveness…second chances…new beginnings ….

Continue here for my full review of The Printed Letter Bookshop…


Have you read The Printed Letter Bookshop or is it on your TBR?


“Uplit” Recommendations and #AVicarageChristmas [Book Review] #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge

December 17, 2021

Do you have “Uplit” on your bookshelves?

UpLit What's On Your Bookshelf (white text in a blue text box against a background of reddish pink balloons against a blue sky

Today for the #WhatsOnYourBookshelfChallenge I’m focusing on “Uplit.” If this term is new to you, here’s a definition I found online:

‘Up Lit’ is the new literary buzz word, described as a trend for books with an emphasis on empathy, books that are uplifting and life-affirming, and which explore themes of family bonds and the human spirit. These types of novels focus on kinder, gentler human connections, but have an element that preserves realism.

Although I regularly and intentionally seek out “feel good” books with some substance (more in 2020 and 2021 than ever before!), I first became aware of “Uplit” as an official term and subgenre in this blog post by Lynne @ Fictionophile.

Uplit adds balance to my reading life.

Perhaps this is why I adore Middle Grade literature that often has strong themes of family, friendship, and hope.

However, “uplit” is not exclusively fluffy and light. The stories can include substantial themes but kindness, gentleness, empathy, and hope always shine through the darkness.

***Note of Caution: as with most subgenres, there can be a difference of opinion in the books that are included….the following list is not an “official” list and simply represents my personal opinions.

From my reading, here are a few of my favorite “uplit” titles (in no particular order):

Although those who curate lists often cite Eleanor Oliphant as their prime example of “Uplit,” I don’t know if I fully agree. Although there is kindness, quirkiness, and a ray of hope, the story is filled with trauma and has an unreliable narrator. The story is devastating. What do you think? Uplit or not?

For today’s review, I’m highlighting my most recent “uplit” find from The Holley Sisters of Thornthwaite Series (Book 1)

A Vicarage Christmas by Kate Hewitt

A Vicarage Christmas by Kate J

My Summary:

A family tragedy that happened years ago has caused Anna, the third of four sisters, to suffer from shyness and some social anxiety. She works and lives in Manchester and for the first time in years she comes home for Christmas because her parents have a big announcement. Coming home is difficult for her yet she adores her family. One night to escape her busy and complicated family and bossy sister, she goes alone to a pub where she meets a handsome and kind stranger. Simon is easy to talk to and she ends up spilling her family secrets. She’s mortified to later learn that Simon is connected with her father at his Parish. Can Simon and Anna salvage their new relationship, negotiate family complications, and create a magical Christmas?

My Thoughts:

I first came across this series in a post by Lisa @ Hopewell’s Public Library of Life Blog just at the time I was comtemplating light Christmas reads for December and rounding out my novella reads for Novellas in November. At 182 pages, this is a quick light read for your busy December days! Thanks for the rec Lisa!

Setting: Who can resist a quaint village in England’s Lake District?

Characters: A Vicarage Christmas is a poignant story of a lovely family comprised of four adult daughters with four unique personalities, a wise and kind father who is also the Vicar of the village parish, and a compassionate and understanding mother who holds the family together and is a gracious hostess. Then, there’s Simon who would like a future with Anna, and I can’t forget about the beloved family dog.

Themes: Lovely themes in A Vicarage Christmas include family dynamics, sibling loyalty, taking risks, grief and childhood trauma, reconciling with the past, community, and parents who do the unexpected.

Lots to Love! I enjoyed this “uplit” story of family, community, and finding love. After reading this novella, I am eager to continue with the series. I’m now on book three, but I think I’m loving book one the most! It was a perfect December read and introduction to the series.

Content Consideration: one trigger warning for memories of the death of a child (sibling)

Recommended: A Vicarage Christmas is an excellent example of “uplit” in my opinion! I’m enthusiastically recommending this heartfelt story for fans of “uplit,” for readers who love gently told stories with themes of family, faith, and finding love, and for those looking for a novella or quick vacation/weekend read.

My Rating: 4 Stars (3.5 rounded up)

twinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-startwinkle-twinkle-little-starhalf twinkle-twinkle-little-star

A Vicarage Christmas by Kate J

A Vicarage Christmas Information Here

Meet the Author, Kate Hewitt

Author Kate HewittKate Hewitt is the bestselling author of many novels of both historical and contemporary fiction. She particularly enjoys writing contemporary issue-driven women’s fiction, and her novels have been called ‘unputdownable’ and ‘the most emotional book I have ever read’ by readers.

An American ex-pat, she lives in a small market town in Wales with her husband and five young(ish) children, along with their two Golden Retrievers. Join her newsletter for monthly updates and giveaways at, or be part of her Facebook groups Kate’s Reads, to discuss all manner of books, movies, music and cooking.

 I’m linking up with Deb @ Deb’s World and SueDonna, and Jo for the December installment of #WhatsOnYourBookShelfChallenge.

Whats On Your Bookshelf Challenge


Have you read A Vicarage Christmas or is it on your TBR?

Do you read “uplit”?

What is your number one “uplit” recommendation?

Happy Reading Book Buddies!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection! Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.


The Golden Girls’ Getaway [Book Review]

December 10, 2021

The Golden Girls’ Getaway by Judy Leigh

The Golden Girls Getaway by Judy Leigh (cover) Image: white text against a blue sky and three women sitting in camp chairs with their backs to the camera on a green expansive lawn area

Genre/Categories/Setting: Contemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, UpLit, England/Wales Countryside

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks @BoldWoodBooks #NetGalley for a complimentary eARC of #TheGoldenGirlsGetaway by Judy Leigh upon my request. All opinions are my own.

At the end of the Pandemic lockdown, three women borrow a motor home and escape their boredom and isolation by touring the British countryside. Vivienne (popular soap actor), Mary (retired nurse), and Gwen (retired opera singer) are all mature women in their 70s and 80s. Even though they live in the same building, they don’t know each other very well. Throughout the trip, their friendship deepens and and they rediscover joy and laughter, the power of sisterhood, and good times.

a motor home driving along a scenic highway

My Thoughts:


The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady [Book Review] #BlogTour

October 4, 2021

The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady by Sharon J. Mondragón

The Unlikely Yarn of the Dragon Lady by Sharon Mondragon (cover) a ball of yarn and two silver knitting needles

Genre/Categories: Christian Comtemporary Fiction, Women’s Fiction, Friendship, Prayer, Ministry

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Out of your comfort zone and into the mall!

Thanks #NetGalley @KregelBooks and the I Read With Audra Blog Tour for a complimentary eARC of #TheUnlikelyYarnOfTheDragonLady upon my request. All opinions are my own.

The Heavenly Hugs Prayer Shawl Ministry consists of four women (Controlling Margaret, Positive Rose, Hurting Jane, and Lonely Fran) who meet weekly in the lovely and quiet Prayer Chapel of their church to knit shawls for the prayer shawls ministry. When the pastor announces that the prayer chapel is being painted and they will need to find another place to sit and knit, he suggests they knit out in public somewhere like the local mall. Grumpy and difficult-to-love Margaret vehemently resists the idea of knitting in the mall with all its distractions. However, the others are open to the idea. After they get kicked out of the bookstore cafe (for never ordering anything), they find a satisfactory place to knit using the comfortable seating display in front of Macy’s department store. And, yes, there are distractions and encounters with the people they meet taking them out of their comfort zones in many ways.

My Thoughts:


The House Swap [Book Review]

September 24, 2021

The House Swap by Jo Lovett

The House Swap by Jo Lovett (cover) Image: white text on a salmon background...graphic images of a young man and woman above the title

Genre/Categories/Settings: Light Women’s Contemporary Fiction, Romance/Rom-Com, Luxury Flat in London/Beach House in Maine

My Summary:

Cassie needs to work with her agent in London for a few months and James needs a break from London and has work he can do in Boston. They meet on a house swapping website when each other’s home seems like the answer to their search. They are quite opposite in every way: personality, lifestyle, and attitudes. This deal leads to humorous communication and house swapping experiences. Do opposites attract?

My Thoughts:


10 Books To Put a Smile On Your Face #TopTenTuesday

September 7, 2021

10 Books To Put a Smile On Your Face #TopTenTuesday

10 Books That Made Me Smile (image: a woman seated with her hand at her chin looking up and laughing)

Image Source: Canva

Top Ten Tuesday (meme)

What is the last book that made you smile?

I’m linking up today with That Artsy Reader Girl for Top Ten Tuesday: Books To Put A Smile On Your Face.

It’s posts like these that cause me to realize that the majority of my reading is really intense! It challenges me to come up with lighter reads. I do love Quirky Characters, so mostly quirky characters provide the levity in my reading life.

I wrote a post similar to this in February of 2021 and in 2020, so I’m revising those lists today to add some new selections. I think that during the Pandemic, I definitely sought out some lighter reads. These are the first ten books that I came across in my Goodreads list that brought a smile to my face. While none are hilarious or laugh out loud funny, each one has some funny or heartwarming moments that make my reading heart light and happy. Obviously, my list is heavily quirky character-driven! (Looking at you Backman!)

 *This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

The Funny Thing About Norman Foreman by Julietta Henderson

In spite of some thoughtful and heavy themes, this story has some humorous and light moments that will put a smile on your face! My review of Funny Thing About Norman Foreman here.

The Funny Thing Aboout Norman Foreman by ???? (cover) Image: a man wearing a red t shirt and brown pants stands at the beginning of a yellow path

The Invisible Husband of Frick Island by Colleen Oakley

A quirky story with loveable characters and thoughtful themes. My review of Invisible Husband of Frick Island here.

Invisible Husband of Frick Island by Colleen Oakley (cover) Image: coral and blue text....individual waves wrap randomly around the text

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman

If you have children in your life, Backman’s essays on parenthood will bring a smile to your face. My review of Things My Son Needs to Know here.

Things My Son Needs to Know About the World by Fredrik Backman (cover)

Three Words For Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

Although not humorous, this story about two estranged sisters sent on a trip to Europe together by their grandmother to deliver messages on her behalf certainly brought a smile to my face on many occasions. Sister dynamics are always fun!  I’m fairly certain this heartfelt story will make my best of 2021 list! It reminded me of  The Unlikely Adventures of the Shergill Sisters in some ways. My review of Three Words For Goodbye here.

Three Words For Goodbye by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb (cover) Image: two young women holding promotional materials and wearing hats stand next to a railing on an ocean liner


Our Italian Summer [Book Review]

August 13, 2021

Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst

Our Italian Summer by Jennifer Probst (cover) Image: a beautiful sunny Italian coast lined with villas

Genre/Categories/Setting: Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Mothers/Daughters, Family Life, Italy

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Special thanks to Sammie @ The Bookwyrm’s Den (@srbetler on Twitter and Bookstagram) for the giveaway win and a shout out to Gina @ Gina Rae Mitchell (@GinaRaeMitchell on Twitter and Bookstagram) for the recommendation!

With individual reasons for wanting or not wanting this trip, a grandmother, her daughter, and her granddaughter travel to Italy for a month’s summer vacation. Sophia, the grandmother, feels that this might be her last chance to visit her homeland and also hopes it will be an opportunity for her daughter and granddaughter to heal their relationship; Francesca, her daughter, is a workaholic and a single mom (by choice) and is suddenly having difficulty with Allegra, her teenage daughter. It’s the trouble that Allegra gets into that finally convinces Francesca that a trip to Italy might be the best option for them even though it will be difficult to extract herself from work. Although Sophia and Allegra are close and share a love of cooking, tensions run high for both of them when Francesca is around. Will this trip to Italy be Sophia’s dream of a lifetime? Most important, will this trip help heal relationships?

My Thoughts:


Wait For It [Book Review]

August 6, 2021

Wait For It by Jenn McKinlay

Wait For It by Jenn McKinlay (coveer) Image: a young man and young woman float in a pool surrounded by desert landscape

Genre/Categories: Women’s Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, Romance

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks #NetGalley @BerkleyPub #BerkleyBuddyReads #BerkleyWritesStrongWomen for a complimentary eARC of #WaitForIt upon my request. All opinions are my own. (Pub Date 8.10.2021)

Annabelle is looking for a fresh start after breaking up with her boyfriend and moves from Boston to Arizona to work as a creative director in a graphic design company that her best friend owns. She rents a guest house on a beautiful property from a quirky, rule-centered, and reclusive landlord, Nick. Annabelle has some surprises in store when she meets Nick and also faces challenges on the new job with a hostile, undermining, and jealous co-worker. Will this move to Arizona work out for her?

My Thoughts:


A Place Like Home [Book Review]

July 26, 2021

A Place Like Home by Rosamunde Pilcher

A Place Like Home by Rosamunde Pilcher (cover) white text on a dark blue background, a group of large light colored blossoms fill the center right

Genre/Categories: Fiction, Short Story Collection, Women’s Fiction, Up-Lit

*This post contains Amazon affiliate links.

My Summary:

Thanks #NetGalley @MacmillanAudio for a complimentary ALC (audio) of #APlaceLikeHome upon my request. All opinions are my own.

A Place Like Home is a collection of fifteen short stories by popular author, Rosamunde Pilcher (most likely your mother’s favorite author!). These stories were published in magazines and are now in book form for the first time. Each one explores different romantic stories (chaste) between couples that are married or courting or meeting for the first time (insta-love).  All are poignant and quietly told with Pilcher’s trademark skill for describing time and place.

My Thoughts: