Five Romance Books to Read in February

January is coming to a close and I am fully invested in building a February TBR full of fun and love! The five below are all at the top of my mind. I can’t wait to dive in!

If you’re looking to pick up a few light romances in February, take a look at the list below and let me know what you pick! Be sure to share with me on Instagram!

1. The Reunion by Kayla Olson

Read it, loved it so much! This will be The Bookcase Beauty Book Club’s read in February. Come join us!
When two former teen stars reconnect at the reunion for their hit TV show, they discover their feelings for one another were not merely scripted in this charming and heartwarming novel perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne. Read the full synopsis here.

2. The Man I Never Met by Elle Cook

In addition to a love story, this book also portrays heavier topics of illness. 
Is it possible to love someone you’ve never met? A young woman finds out in this sweeping will-they-or-won’t-they love story that begins with a chance wrong number dial. . . . Read the full synopsis here.

3. The Sweet Spot by Amy Poeppel

Hold the Valentines, maybe you need more of a Galentines read?

A wise and joyful novel that celebrates love, hate, and all of the glorious absurdity in between.
In the heart of Greenwich Village, three women form an accidental sorority when a baby—belonging to exactly none of them—lands on their collective doorstep. Read the full synopsis here.

4. Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens

Chance encounter, when stars align kind of love? Yes please. 

From the New York Times bestselling author of This Time Next Year comes a heartwarming and hilarious tale that asks: What if you pick up the wrong suitcase in an airport, only to fall head over heels for its unseen owner? Read the full synopsis here.

5. Do I Know You? by Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka

I love that the main characters are a married couple working on their relationship. It’s refreshing to see some real life love, here folks! 
When a couple starts to feel like they’re married to a stranger, a flirtatious game of pretend becomes the spark they need to reignite their relationship. Read the full synopsis here.

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10 January Books that You Should Pre-Order Now

Happy New Year! 

If you’re feeling anything like me, you’ve been bouncing back and forth between holiday hangover and extreme motivation to get 2023 rolling. Wherever you’re at with this new year, I hope you’re taking strides to prioritize reading!

Speaking of prioritizing your reading, I recently released my 2023 Digital Reading Journal! It holds up to 100 books and is available in my Etsy shop along with some other fantastic reading trackers. Check out my Etsy shop here!

Here are 10 books publishing in January that you should pre-order now!

Think of these pre-orders as future presents to yourself. We know January can be a hard month, take care of your mind by lining up some fantastic reads! 

If you purchase any of these titles, I hope you’ll consider using my embedded links. I earn a small commission from sales at no extra cost to you. Using affiliate links is a fantastic way to support creators at no additional cost and it really does make a difference! 

1. Ms. Demeanor by Elinor Lipman

Love under house arrest?! This contemporary romcom has adorable hijinx written all over it. After a prudish neighbor catches Jane having sex on their apartment rooftop, she’s sentenced to six months of home confinement. Wouldn’t you know it, there’s another resident in the apartment complex who’s also rocking an ankle monitor. 

Read the full synopsis

Purchase your copy here

2. Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun by Elle Cosimano

This is the third and final installment in the Finlay Donovan series. It’s also one of my most anticipated reads of the year! See how the author-turned-hit-woman’s story ends! This is definitely one that needs to be read in order. Linking the first and second books here!

Read the full synopsis 

Purchase your copy here

3. Begin Again by Emma Lord

BIG FAN of Emma Lord’s over here! She writes the best YA titles! Her latest book, Begin Again, takes place at a community college. It has all of the found family, finding your own way, and Just Kiss Already vibes!

Read the full synopsis

Purchase your copy here

4. The Reunion by Kayla Olsen

Talk about SWOON. This book is getting tons of buzz and is sure to be one of the top contemporary romances of the year. The Reunion centers on two former child stars who reconnect and discover that their feelings for each other were not just scripted. Perfect for fans of Christina Lauren and Sally Thorne!

Read the full synopsis

Purchase your copy here

5. The Writing Retreat by Julia Bartz

I LOVE wintery trapped thrillers. Something about the treacherous weather conditions and unreliable characters make me devour these novels. I’m extremely excited about Bartz’ newest release. I’ll be reading this one ASAP.

Read the full synopsis

Purchase your copy here

6. The Twyford Code by Janice Hallet

Strange markings inside a famous children’s book, secret codes, and an English teacher that disappears during a field trip… The Twyford Code takes us on a wild ride in this mystery thriller. Was she murdered? Was she mad? This book has my attention in a big way! 

Read the full synopsis

Purchase your copy here

7. All Hallows by Christopher Golden

If there’s a book that’s going to take away the January blues, it’s this horror drama! It’s got 80’s Stranger Things vibes and a group of children as the main characters. I’m in for this supernatural thriller!

Read the full synopsis 

Purchase your copy here

8. Jellyfish Age Backwards by Nicklas Brendborg

New Year, New You! If you’re looking to focus on more nonfiction reads this year, Jellyfish Age Backwards is a fascinating insight into how plants and animals already hold the secrets to immortality. From a 300+ year old shark to jellyfish that can literally age backwards and start their life process over again, this book feels like more magic than reality. 

Read the full synopsis

Purchase your copy here

9. The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

Hawkins is back with another twisty thriller! Two friends, both writers, take a writing retreat to an old villa turned holiday home. But, the Villa is holding onto secrets of its own. Inspired by Fleetwood Mac, the Manson murders, and the birthplace of Frankenstein, The Villa takes readers on a wild ride!

Read the full synopsis

Purchase your copy here

10. Locust Lane by Stephen Amidon

For fans of Mystic River by Dennis Lehane and Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng, Stephen Amidon’s Locust Lane is a taut and utterly propulsive story about the search for justice and the fault lines of power and influence in a seemingly idyllic town. Can anyone be trusted?

Read the full synopsis here

Purchase your copy here

I’d love to know if you read any of these titles! Leave me a comment or send me a message on Instagram or Facebook and let’s chat books!

Know some readers that could benefit from this list? Send them the link or share this post to your social media pages and tag me!

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Four Holiday Books to Get You in the Christmas Spirit

It’s no secret that I LOVE embracing all that the Christmas season has to offer. (Hello, viral book ornament post.) One way that surely gets me into the spirit each year is lining up all of the Christmas books I plan to read. Today, I’m sharing four holiday reads from HTPbooks that will have you baking cookies and singing carols in no time!

This line up includes some of my favorite holiday tropes: snowed in, family drama, second chance romance, grumpy/sunshine, big city/small town, and SO MANY more. Sprinkle in some Christmas magic and a cozy setting and I’m sold!

Snag these books to finish out your holiday TBR, trade in a book swap, or give as gifts to your mom, sister, or friend! These books are the perfect choice for all of your Christmas book lovers!

Holidays in Virgin River by Robyn Carr

Holidays in Virgin River by Robyn Carr: Spend Christmas in your favorite cozy town, Virgin River, with these two adorably sparkly stories. In Holidays in Virgin River, you’ll read Under the Christmas Tree and Midnight Confessions. This book doesn’t stop at a cozy Christmas story, there’s a New Year’s Eve party with plenty of holiday magic.

Synopsis:

Celebrate the holidays with this special edition containing 2 fan-favorite stories from the Virgin River series. Includes exclusive recipies inspired by the Virgin River characters.

Under the Christmas Tree

With snow falling over the redwood forests, secluded Virgin River is the ideal place to spend the holidays. Each year, the close-knit community gathers in the town square to decorate and light a massive tree. Carols are sung, hot chocolate is shared—and this year, a surprise is about to bring two special people together. When the townsfolk discover a box of adorable puppies under the town’s Christmas tree, they call on local vet Nathaniel Jensen for help. But it’s his budding romance with Annie McCarty that really has tongues—and tails—wagging!

Midnight Confessions

In Virgin River, holiday kisses don’t end with Christmas—there’s still the New Year’s Eve party at Jack’s Bar to attend. Locals and newcomers alike find themselves eager for that special countdown…and that midnight kiss.

As the townspeople gather, two lonely revelers decide the best balm for their broken hearts might just be each other.

Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallery

Home Sweet Christmas by Susan Mallery: This is the second book in the Wishing Tree series, but you can jump right into this sugary, heartfelt story without missing a beat. Big city gal, small hometown romance tropes have me putting this one at the top of my stack! Also, can we please take a moment to admire this *literal* sugar cookie sweet cover?!

Synopsis:

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Susan Mallery comes a witty and heartfelt story of two friends who unexpectedly find the person-and the place in which-they belong this Christmas.

With twinkling humor and heartfelt Christmas spirit, two friends find love in a town called Wishing Tree…


Until Camryn Neff can return to her “real” life in Chicago, she’s in Wishing Tree to care for her twin sisters. She’s not looking for forever love, not here. But handsome hotelier Jake Crane is a temptation she can’t resist, so she suggests they pair up for the season. No golden rings, no broken hearts. At his side, she sees her hometown through Christmas-colored eyes. The cheer is cheerier, the joy more joyful. She thought she had put her future on hold…but maybe her real life was here all along, waiting for her to come home.

New in town, River Best is charmed by Wishing Tree’s homespun traditions and warmhearted people. When she’s crowned Snow Queen, she’s honored but wary. Dylan Tucker, her king, seems like the stuff of sugarplum dreams, but she can’t shake the feeling that he’s hiding something big. As they perform their “royal” duties—tasting cookies, lighting trees—Dylan’s good humor and melty kisses draw her to the brink of love. But she can’t let herself fall until she uncovers his secret, even if her lack of faith means losing him forever.

All is Bright by RaeAnne Thayne

All is Bright by RaeAnne Thayne: You know I love a matchmaking trope and add in a grumpy/sunshine pair and I’m sold. This book takes us back to Hope’s Crossing, where Sage Mcknight is tasked with redesigning the home of a pro baseball player. Her hard work isn’t going to go unrecognized and thanks to the quirky locals, a sweet match is sure to be made!

Synopsis:

Return to Hope’s Crossing this Christmas in New York Times bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne’s latest heartwarming story of matchmaking at the holidays!

Sage McKnight is an ambitious young architect working at her father’s firm who takes on her most challenging client in Mason Tucker. The former pro baseball player is still healing from the physical and emotional scars after a plane crash left him a wheelchair-using single dad, and he’s determined not to let anyone breach his emotional defenses. Sage knows her work on Mason’s new home in Hope’s Crossing is her best work yet, and she won’t let her grumpy client prevent her from showcasing her work personally.

With Sage’s gift for taking broken things and making them better, the matchmaking talent of the quirky locals and a generous sprinkling of Christmas cheer, Mason doesn’t stand a chance against the power of this magical holiday season.

Snowed in for Christmas by Sarah Morgan

Snowed in for Christmas by Sarah Morgan: Co-workers to lovers, trapped at home, and family drama all over Christmas?! This story sounds like the makings of a future movie. The Miller siblings are traveling home for Christmas, all with their own secrets, hoping to avoid their nosy family’s questions. Desperate to keep her job, Lucy Clarke arrives at the family home to deliver a business proposal to Ross. She’s mistaken for his girlfriend and by the time the confusion is cleared up, they’re snowed in. Soon, sparks ignite!

Synopsis:

What happens if the only Christmas celebration you want to attend is one you haven’t been invited to? USA Today bestselling author Sarah Morgan delights with this hilarious and heartwarming Christmas cracker of a novel!

A family gathering

This Christmas the Miller siblings have one goal—to avoid their well-meaning family’s endless stream of prying questions. Ross, Alice and Clemmie have secrets that they don’t intend to share, and they are relying on each other to deflect attention.

An uninvited guest

Lucy Clarke is facing a Christmas alone and the prospect of losing her job. Unless she can win a major piece of business from Ross Miller, the season promises to be anything but festive. She’ll just deliver her proposal to his family home and then leave. After all, she wouldn’t want to intrude on the Miller family’s perfect Christmas.

A Christmas to remember

When Lucy appears on the Miller family’s snow-covered Highland doorstep, she’s mistaken for Ross’s girlfriend. By the time the confusion is cleared up, they’re snowed in—she can’t leave, even if she wants to! But does she want to? As secrets spill out like presents from an overstuffed stocking and the chemistry between her and Ross ignites, this is going to be either Lucy’s worst Christmas ever or the best mistake of her life.

These new release titles from HarperCollins are the perfect selections to gift this holiday season, but don’t forget to treat yourself to some Christmas magic too! These titles all have my stamp of approval!

Connect with me on Instagram and Facebook for more content like this! Happy Reading!

November Book Reviews: Books You Need to Read

… And a few you can probably pass up. November started slow and quiet and I’m thankful that I took the first half of the month to soak in the calm lull between Halloween and Thanksgiving. My month ramped up when I decided to write detailed instructions on how to make the viral book ornament. You can find that tutorial and free template download here. 

It didn’t take long before I was convinced to offer a few handmade ornaments in my Etsy shop. Although time consuming, taking on this limited project has aided some much relished audiobook listening.

Thanks to this extended reading opportunity, I read 11 books in November. Below are my thoughts on each of them, including which ones you should definitely add to the top of your list and suggestions on who to gift these to this holiday season.

Quick note: You can stay up to date on all of my ratings on Goodreads!

Let’s get to it! 

I use affiliate links in my blog posts. If these reviews lead you to buying any titles, I hope you’ll consider using my embedded links. Thank you for your support!

Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt

Read the Synopsis Here

5/5 stars

I was shocked at how much I loved this story. I’d fully expected it to be a solid story, but nothing to write home about. I was so pleasantly wrong. The unlikely friendship between Tova and Marcellus (a giant Pacific octopus) gave me the coziest feels. Marcellus is extremely observant and insightful beyond human understanding. This is also a story of second chances and reckoning with the past. What a debut novel!! It reads as if Van Pelt is a seasoned writer. 

It’s a book that leaves you feeling as if you’ve been hugged. Hopeful and promising. 

This book is perfect for those that love a gentle character and witty humor!

Add it to your cart here:

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The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer

Read the Synopsis Here

4/5 stars

This was the perfect way to jump-start my holiday reading!! It’s been patiently sitting on my shelf for the better part of a year just waiting for holiday vibes to roll around. I knew it was the perfect read to pick up when The Bookcase Beauty Backlist Club chose cozy reads this month- and it lived up to my expectations! 

Put this one on your “right now” TBR. Don’t wait a year like I did! It was so much fun!

Add it to your cart here:

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When Women Were Dragons by Kelly Barnhill

Read the Synopsis Here

4/5 stars

This was a wild, entrancing story that I could not stop listening to! It was weirdly a mix of Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wison and Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus. Women spontaneously turn into dragons en masse. Women hiding their traits for fear of being outcast. This story follows Alex, a young girl in 1950’s America who is navigating The Mass Dragoning of 1955. This story is a breath of fresh air! So original and mesmerizing! 

This book is for the reader who loves an empowerment story and the path to self-discovery. 

Add it to your cart here:

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Lovelight Farms by B.K. Borison

Read the Synopsis Here

4/5 stars

My holiday reading continued with this precious friends-to-lovers romcom. This was sugar cookie sweet and exactly the kind of easy holiday listening I was looking for. I’m so glad this is the first book in a series of three (soon to be four). This will definitely be one I continue in December! 

This would make a great gift for a holiday book swap or book club pick!

Add it to your cart here:

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The Cloisters by Katy Hays

Read the Synopsis Here

4/5 stars

Woah! This was fun! It gave me some National Treasurer vibes with a flair of magic and mystery. Lots of ancient artifacts and a deck of 15th century tarot cards that predict the future! Of course, with that kind of magic, there are those that will do anything to harness it. I was all in! 

If you’re looking to buy for an inquisitive reader, a fan of magical realism, or a history buff with a soft spot for fiction, you can’t go wrong with this one!

Add it to your cart here:

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Mad Honey by Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan

Read the Synopsis Here

4/5 stars

Mad Honey was the Bookcase Beauty Book Club pick for November ‘22. I’m a huge fan of Picoult and was thrilled when the club voted to read her latest novel! This book had me feeling a range of emotions! There are chapters that feel soft and comforting, chapters that feel inquisitive and witty, and chapters that evoked anger in me. The story is told from three points of view, which seemed to fit the idea that two writers were collaborating on the novel- the perspectives are so clearly different and developed. You can definitely go searching if you’re looking for spoiler alerts, but I won’t share those here. I will say that Picoult is no stranger to taking on big social topics and examining them fully. 

Add it to your cart here:

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The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Read the Synopsis Here

This book was recommended to me by my Mother-in-law, who read it with her group of high school students in a book club. They all loved it and I knew I needed to see what the fuss was about, especially after seeing it make the rounds on social media! This is the first in a series of three and I’m hooked! Money, mystery, love interests, and high-stakes games all make for an enthralling YA read. 

If you have a teen or young adult that needs to reignite their love of reading, share this one with them. For the record, I’m 30 and fully enjoyed it!!

Add it to your cart here:

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When in Rome by Sarah Adams

Read the Synopsis Here

4/5 stars

Ask me if I’ve read the Tiktok breakout book, The Cheat Sheet and my answer is still no… but after reading Adams’ newest release, I’m prioritizing it because When In Rome was magic! I don’t know if it’s just the colder weather or the time of year, but this story reads like a holiday romance- without the holiday. Does that make sense? Where everything is just so adorable and perfect and fun. There’s a mild amount of spice, keeping this one a sugary sweet celebrity-to-small town romance trope. Eeek it was wonderful! 

This book is perfect for the low-heat romance fan and readers that love buzzy books!

Add it to your cart here:

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The last three books were just okay to me. All of them were three stars. I finished them. I can see who others will enjoy them, but they didn’t blow my socks off. Take my opinion with a grain of salt and don’t shy away from them if they sound interesting to you!

Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin

Read the Synopsis Here

3/5 stars

The premise of this book had me intrigued- childhood best friends, storyline spanning decades, video game creation- it all sounds great to me! Ultimately, it fell kind of flat for me. I followed the story, but at the end just felt like I’d read a book. It hadn’t impacted me or left a lasting impression. I’ve also heard rave reviews! I’m always in favor of reading something to find out for yourself. 

Add it to your cart here:

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The Villa by Rachel Hawkins

Read the Synopsis Here

3/5 stars

I think I’ve determined that Rachel Hawkins is just not the author for me. I wanted to love it, I really did! I wanted redemption for hating Reckless Girls so much, but this was just meh. The synopsis sounded promising: eerie, old house, unsolved scandalous murder, friends with hidden agendas. If you enjoyed her other books, definitely give this one a go! If you weren’t a fan of her previous books, this one will probably fall right in line. 

Add it to your cart here:

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Sign Here by Claudia Lux

Read the Synopsis Here

3/5 stars

This was a “just okay” read. I heard others rave about it, so I was excited to finally pick it up. It, unfortunately, fell flat for me. If you’re a fan of underdog reads, you may grasp onto this one! 

Add it to your cart here:

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If you made it all the way to the end, thank you! I’d love to hear from you. Have you read any of these? Are any of these books on your TBR?

Happy Reading!

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Demon Copperhead Five Star Cocktail

Where do I even start? I’m not even sure…I guess I’ll start with my deep love for Barbara Kingsolver’s writing. She wrote one of my all-time favorite books, The Poisonwood Bible. I’ve read it multiple times and if you’ve been around for a while, you’ve probably seen it pop up in recommendation stacks!

When I found out about Demon Copperhead, I could hardly contain my excitement. If you’ve never read Barbara’s writing (Barbara, because obviously I’m deeply and personally connected to her and we’re on a first name basis), it’s work that will swoop you up and place you within the mindset of the characters, as if you’re one in the same. She has such a unique ability to write with such a balance of raw clarity and beauty.

Demon Copperhead was the deep dive read I needed this year. I equate it with “the greats” of my reading history: 11/22/63, Betty, Pachinko, Shadows of Pecan Hollow, and, of course, The Poisonwood Bible. It’s a heavy-hitter and one you’ll sink down into.

The style of writing slowed me down more than I was expecting, as most of the dialogue between characters is being recalled to you by Demon. Most of the conversations are within the paragraphs, so there’s no skimming this one. All the better, honestly, it forced me to slow down and soak it all in.

It was perfect and painful and tender and honest. I just loved it all.

To celebrate my admiration of this book, I’ve paired it with one of my most-loved cold weather drinks, Austin’s Old Fashioned.

A few years ago, we discovered a speakeasy bar in downtown Fort Worth and started frequenting the establishment because of its calm atmosphere and absolutely phenomenal drinks. Our favorite was The Old Fashioned. The perfect balance between whiskey, bitters, and syrup. An Old Fashioned that’s too heavy on the bitters is… garbage.

Austin set on a mission to replicate this drink at home! After many attempts, he finally found the ratios he was looking for. It’s my favorite choice to cozy up with on a cold night!

Other Five Star Cocktail Recipes can be found here:

The Strawberry Basil Margarita

The Slow Burn

Other Five Star Recommendations can be found here:

Five Books To Read This Fall

Five Summer Romance Reads

Austin’s Old Fashioned

You’ll need:

  • 2 oz  Kentucky Straight Bourbon (we often use Buffalo Trace or Old Forester)
  • ½ oz simple syrup
  • 3 drops of Angostura bitters
  • Orange peel
  • Luxardo cherry + 1/2 tsp syrup

Directions:

  1. Pour the bourbon, simple syrup, and three drops of bitters into a glass and stir for at least 30 seconds. You want it to be smooooooooth.
  2. Rim the inside of the glass with the inside of the orange peel.
  3. Squeeze the orange peel inside of the glass, releasing the oils into the drink. 
  4. Twist the orange peel and drop it in!
  5. Garnish with a Luxardo cherry + 1 tsp cherry syrup

The Old Fashioned is traditionally served at room temperature, which is why you want to use a quality bourbon. If you prefer yours chilled, add 1-2 ice cubes after preparing the drink.

I hope you love Demon Copperhead as much as I did! It was also Oprah’s Book Club pick for November!

Read it, make a drink, and send me a cheers! I’d love to hear your thoughts on all of the above!

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