Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss

Source: gift
Paperback, 432 pgs.
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Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss is a fun holiday read by the end, but you have to get through some awkwardness first. That can be true of meeting your childhood crush after years away, or of reconnecting with friends of means after the tragic suicide of another. Elinor Noel is a young secondhand bookstore owner in London, whose family own a flower shop in a working class town surrounded by opulence, including a castle. Is that why she moved to London to get away from the snobbery? No. In fact, after she attends the prestigious private school, she falls into friendships with some really awkward and snooty people who have no idea what it is like for Nory and her family.

She does have one solid friendship with Ameerah, whose family is jet-setting all over the globe and barely comes to see her. Nory’s family just adores Ameerah and treat her like their own. This close relationship helped me to keep reading through all the cringy and yucky exchanges with her other high-class friends, but Guy was the worst. Pippa grew on me by the end and I kind of what a whole book about how she became so poised and stand-offish and practical to the detriment of her own emotions.

Throughout the reunion with her friends at the castle to celebrate the upcoming nuptials of Charles and Jenna, Nory is feeling out of place and missing their mutual friend Tristan, but when Guy enters the picture with is smarmy comments and sleazy actions, Nory finds herself in the castle gardens in the cold looking for a place to hideout for a bit, but she ends up in a wheelbarrow of dung.

I’m not going to ruin the rest of this funny romance but I did enjoy Nory and the mystery of the paintings that she uncovers with the Head Gardener, Isaac, at the castle. Reading this as a buddy read on StoryGraph was icing on the cake, sharing thoughts and comments throughout made it even more fun. Meet Me Under the Mistletoe by Jenny Bayliss will try your patience at times, but ultimately, it’s a fun read and a good romance with lots of tension and just enough heat.

RATING: Quatrain

Photo: © Dominic Jennings

About the Author:

A former professional cake baker, Jenny Bayliss lives in a small seaside town in the UK with her husband, their children having left home for big adventures. She is also the author of The Twelve Dates of Christmas, A Season for Second Chances, and Meet Me Under the Mistletoe.

Hunters Point by Peter Kageyama

Source: Publicist
Paperback, 370 pgs.
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Hunters Point by Peter Kageyama is a thrilling private investigator-based novel set in San Francisco in post-WWII. Katsuhiro “Kats” Takemoto is a decorated war veteran turned PI who takes on a local case in which shipbuilder and shipyard owners, the Vellos, are being pressured to sell their land to a developer, but what Kats uncovers is unbelievable when it leads to connections with James “Jimmy the Hat” Lanza, a government coverup, and, of course, Beat poets from the City Lights Bookstore.

(you now understand why I was interested in reading this book — WWII, poets…)

Kageyama’s characters are dynamic and deeply rounded, from Kats a Japanese-American who endured internment as a teen before joining the fight in WWII, to the Vello family and its deeply held commitment to art and business.Kats is a man who has been through a great deal and those scars show in how tries to maintain control of his emotions in every way, but Molly might just upend all that control.

The secondary characters of Molly, Shig, and Harry are three-dimensional with their own motivations, secrets, and backstories. The shadowy Sand and Lanza are less fleshed out, but for mobsters and a mystery man, it works. An additional character in this novel is Hunters Point with its bustling businesses and diverse families and workers, and it’s where the mystery is unraveled by Kats and his friends.

“They reminded him of his own father, who taught him about family and the layers of obligation, both On and Giri, the obligations we voluntarily take on and those we inherit. We carry many things, and those things make up our story.” (pg. 43)

Hunters Point by Peter Kageyama reminds me of why I love mystery/thrillers. They have you thinking fast, engaged in the action, delving deeper into the characters’ backgrounds to understand what makes them tick, and before you know it, you’ve come to the end of the mystery. And I suspect we’ll be seeing these characters again.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Peter Kageyama is the author of For the Love of Cities: The Love Affair Between People and Their Places, the follow ups, Love Where You Live: Creating Emotionally Engaging Places, and The Emotional Infrastructure of Places. In 2021, he released For the Love of Cities REVISITED, a revised and updated version of his award-winning book.

In 2023, his debut novel based on the post-internment life of his parents was released by St. Petersburg Press.

Peter is a Senior Fellow with the Alliance for Innovation, a national network of city leaders, and a special advisor to America In Bloom. He is an internationally sought-after community development consultant and grassroots engagement strategist who speaks about bottom-up community development and the amazing people who are making change happen around the world.

If It Bleeds by Stephen King (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 15+ hrs.
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If It Bleeds by Stephen King, narrated by Will Patton, Danny Burstein, and Steven Weber, is a collection of novellas, with Holly Gibney reappearing in the title novella.

The opening novella, Mr. Harrigan’s Phone, is reminiscent of a young boy coming-of-age story in which Craig befriends Mr. Harrigan right as cell phones start providing information at our fingertips, including newspapers and stock information. This friendship, of course, takes a darker turn. I enjoyed this piece, but wanted more development and a longer story.

The Life of Chuck, set in Boston, opens with the end of the Internet, but there’s billboards everywhere with Chuck on them. Who was this man that no one seems to know, but who is loved enough to be on a billboard? The ghosts of his past provide us with a glimpse of this finance man and how he did indeed “contain multitudes.” The best part of this story is when Chuck begins dancing on Boylston Street in Boston to the beat of busking drummers. But it is also about that age-old question of whether we would want to know when we’re to die? Would we use the time wisely? Would we while it away. This story was not as engaging as the others, at least not on audio.

Holly Gibney returns in If It Bleeds to find herself in a similar situation as to when she was in The Outsider (my review). It helps if you have read the previous novel where she appears because it is referenced, but I don’t think it is necessary, as King provides enough background for readers to follow along. Gibney is a spitfire who is overcoming her own self-esteem issues, and I absolutely love revisiting this character. This was my favorite novella.

Rat is the final novella in the collection and reminded me of King’s earlier works involving writers – Secret Window, Secret Garden (which became a movie with Johnny Depp), The Dark Half, and The Shining. But don’t expect that rat to appear until midway and do expect a Faustian bargain to occur. This one was a traditional horror yarn. It was definitely a solid story, though I didn’t like Drew Larson much.

If It Bleeds by Stephen King was a bit hit-and-miss for me, but there’s definitely something for everyone in these pages. The best of these for me was If It Bleeds, though Mr. Harrigan’s Phone was a close second for me. Each of these deal with our sense of mortality and how knowing the end is near or even possible can impact how we act or don’t.

Funnily enough, the bookworm also posted her review of this collection, so check it out!

RATING: Tercet

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Doctor Sleep and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

Accomplished by Amanda Quain (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 9+ hrs.
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Accomplished by Amanda Quain, narrated by Deva Marie Gregory, focuses on high school-age Georgiana Darcy who is struggling to find herself after Wickham entangles her in his drug-dealing scheme at her private school.She is a bit dramatic, probably too many regency romance shows for her.

Gregory is an excellent narrator for this young adult’s redemption story. She provides different voices for Georgie, Fitz, Avery, Wickham, and others.

Georgie is crumbling under the pressure of the Darcy name and its expectations. She’s unsure of who she is and unable to rectify her reputation at the private school where everyone hates her for taking away their best trombone player and drug dealer, Wickham. Even though she had nothing to do with the drug dealing and her room was all Wickham needed, her brother is severely disappointed and ramps up his helicopter parenting.

Georgie, on the other hand, is eager to get out from under the glare of her classmates, Wickham’s threats, and her brother’s oppressive supervision. Her lavish family lifestyle is something she wants to get past but even those around her see her like her ancestors and even her brother — untouchable, able to throw money at problems, and so many other privileged trappings.

Accomplished by Amanda Quain, narrated by Deva Marie Gregory, is a charming story of a young woman looking for herself as forces outside of herself try to force her to be someone she isn’t. She’s artistic, musical, and creative, and clearly not the business/medical mold of the Darcy legacy. While Georgie is a bit obsessive and full of anxiety, which can get tiresome, her gradual evolution in this story is delightful, even when she stands up to her brother, not quite in the most rational or tactful way. Quain is a talented writer, and I look forward to others in this series.

RATING: Quatrain

Love the Dark Days by Ira Mathur

Source: the author
Paperback, 232 pgs.
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Love the Dark Days by Ira Mathur is a surreal memoir that weaves between a distant past in post-colonial India and ancestral stories and a married woman looking for guidance on writing her own memoir. The narrative digs deep into the past of her ancestry pulling the thread of pain forward into her present. Mathur says in more than one place that she doesn’t feel like she belongs. She’s looking throughout the memoir for her place in the world.

This sense of drift carries readers through the memoir, which reads like a nightmare in places. Her grandmother Burrimummy has fits of anger and sadness, and her rages seem like a woman battling mental illness, though that isn’t outwardly articulated. Shifting from India to Trinidad and other places, Mathur is weaving place with family history, much of it violent and abusive. Whether subject to emotional abuse and dejection or the physical abuse her mother felt as a child at the hands of her own mother, these instances reverberate throughout the female line in the family. These women are damaged and traumatized, but it is unclear if these women  ever sought help or tried to break the cycle.

“When she is angry like this, I don’t know what to feel. I hate it when she thrashes me but am sadder when she doesn’t notice me at all.”

“The servants, sensing my lower status, are careless with me.”

“I’m too dark, too rebellious.”

Mathur’s view of herself is skewed from an early age, and she carries that doubt with her as she matures. She is never good enough. She even says, “Twenty-four years, and in some ways, nothing had changed for me.” But later as she’s seeking to understand this generational violence and neglect, she absolves everyone of responsibility.

“They are like Russian dolls. I understand now. Mummy blames Burrimummy for being unkind. Burrimummy blames Mumma for ill-treating her, and Mumma blames Sadrunissa for thrashing her. They all took out whatever anger they felt over their own lives on their daughters. no one is responsible.”

The sections when Mathur is interacting with poet Sir Derek Walcott are overly long and fawning of a poet whom she admits was accused of harassing women. Her admiration of his poetry is clear, and she does recognize his faults, but if these scenes were meant to tie in with her family’s saga, they did not fit seamlessly into the narrative. They often pulled me out of her story and made me wonder when she would get back to her family. When she does get back to her family, there are still questions that linger about her husband’s behavior, his family’s acceptance/rejection of her, and her relationship with her own children that remain unanswered. Perhaps that’s a future memoir?

In many ways, this memoir is about a woman still coming to terms with her trauma. Intimate, harrowing, and sad, Mathur’s memoir reminds us that “when brutality is normalized, it is passed on, like a legacy, like DNA.” Love the Dark Days by Ira Mathur is most engaging when she speaks about her family and its legacy and its impact on her as a woman and successful journalist.

RATING: Tercet

About the Author:

Ira Mathur is an Indian born Caribbean freelance journalist/writer working in radio, television and print in Trinidad, West Indies. She also is currently a Sunday Guardian columnist and feature writer. Follow her on Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

The Wehrwolf by Alma Katsu (audio)

Source: Purchase
Audible, 2+ hrs.
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It’s been a Grimm’s Brothers kind of month of reading for me.

The Wehrwolf by Alma Katsu, narrated by Jim Boeven, weaves in myth from Germanic folklore about wolves and sets it just nearing the end of WWII.

Even as Berlin tries to tell its people that the war is not over, even the villages outside the cities can sense the tide is not in the motherland’s favor.

Uwe Fuchs has always considered himself a weakling and unworthy as he was unable to serve for the Reich and stayed behind to care for his own ailing mother. Despite his lot, he cared for his daughter and loved to share with her the dark fairy tales of the wood and wolves, though he feared she missed the point that the wolves represented the bad in the world. But in many ways it seems he missed the point as well.

The narration by Boeven was a bit stilted in the audio, which kept me from really falling into Katsu’s story fully. That was a real drawback for me. But the story itself is definitely a reaction to the political climate we find ourselves in and how it mirrors that of Nazi Germany with its fervor and us vs. them focus. The story itself is a cautionary tale that has roots in reality.

Katsu has knack for creating characters who are flawed and find themselves in otherworldly situations. Uwe is definitely flawed and those flaws are amplified by what happens to him, especially when he takes matters into his hands with the village fighters against the Allies in an effort to be part of the community. Will he be a man who cannot return to his former life?

The Wehrwolf by Alma Katsu, narrated by Jim Boeven, is a short story set in a historical period that highlighted much of the worst in humanity from eugenics to mass extinction efforts. Uwe is a man who is struggling with his own place in society and his community until he finds his pack. But will his one decision to join those working against the allies at the end of the war ruin his life forever?

RATING: Quatrain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Alma Katsu is the author of The Taker, The Reckoning, and The Descent. She has been a signature reviewer for Publishers Weekly and a contributor to The Huffington Post. She is a graduate of the Master’s writing program at the Johns Hopkins University and received her bachelor’s degree from Brandeis University. Prior to the publication of her first novel, Katsu had a long career as a senior intelligence analyst for several US agencies and is currently a senior analyst for a think tank. She lives outside of Washington, DC, with her husband.

Fairy Tale by Stephen King (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 24+ hrs.
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Fairy Tale by Stephen King, narrated by Seth Numrich and a bit by King himself, is a dark Gothic story in the tradition of the Brothers Grimm. In a parallel world beneath an Howard Bowditch‘s shed, Charlie Reade‘s worldview and his promise to be a better man if only his father would stop drinking alcohol. Reade’s blossoming relationship with Mr. Bowditch is touching and odd all at once, but I expect nothing less. But the fairy tale doesn’t begin until Reade learns about what’s in the shed and what it could possibly mean for the dog, Radar, they love.

In an adventure that Reade never expected to have when he sought to save the life of an old dog, he learns a great deal about human frailty and how dreams and ideals do little in times of crisis. Even Mr. Bowditch was aware of those failings, noting that cowards bring gifts. King is so adept at creating flawed characters and adventures to strange worlds where young men must test their metal against the deep dark evil of an unknown and scary place.

Reade comes of age in this story and he is not as too-good-to-be-true as he seems. He faces untenable situations and tough choices throughout his travels. I don’t want to give too much away, but the character not only evolves but even more clearly understands his own limitations. Dark and horrible things happen here, and are their moments of crassness from the evil characters that make you cringe, of course. These elements make this dark world seem even more real.

Anyone who knows me, knows I love reading Stephen King’s books. Not all of them capture my full attention, even if I love them. I even conned my friend Anna (aka Diary of an Eccentric) to read my favorite King book (IT) in a read-a-long. But some of King’s books have not totally absorbed me from start to finish like IT. Fairy Tale is an exception and has entered the pantheon of King favorites.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Stephen King is the author of more than fifty books, all of them worldwide bestsellers. His recent work includes Doctor Sleep and Under the Dome, now a major TV miniseries on CBS. His novel 11/22/63 was named a top ten book of 2011 by The New York Times Book Review and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Mystery/Thriller as well as the Best Hardcover Book Award from the International Thriller Writers Association. He is the recipient of the 2003 National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He lives in Bangor, Maine, with his wife, novelist Tabitha King.

The Attic on Queen Street by Karen White

Source: Publisher
Paperback, 416 pgs.
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**don’t read this one until you’ve read the others**

The Attic on Queen Street by Karen White is the seventh and last book in this ghostly mystery series. Melanie and Jack Trenholm are not in a good place at the start of this one. He’s no longer living in the Tradd Street home and they are sharing custody of their twins, while his daughter, Nola, stayed with Melanie. It’s clear that there is some tension between them, but the love they share and the heat are still present, even if they choose to ignore it.

“…faces of my children and Jack stared out at me from the computer’s background wallpaper, a reminder of everything we had lost. Or maybe we had just misplaced it.” (from ARC)

In this story, Melanie is trying to help Veronica, an old friend, solve the murder of her sister, which has been a cold case since their college days. Veronica’s husband, however, is eager to move out of their house and into a new place, as well as close the book on his sister-in-law’s unsolved murder. As with all other books, ghosts are showing up, leaving things in places they shouldn’t, and making things a little difficult for Melanie who is a reluctant communicator with the dead.

In the midst of this mystery, Marc Longo makes another appearance, and desperation has Jack and Melanie agreeing to be under the same roof and allow filming on the book Marc stole from Jack to begin in their house. You can imagine what kind of tension there will be.

The Attic on Queen Street by Karen White has everything I’ve loved about this series from the beginning – ghosts, mysteries, and complicated relationships. I’m so glad this ended happily, and I cannot wait for the New Orleans spinoff series to begin.

RATING: Cinquain

Other Reviews of the Series:

Other Books by Karen White:

About the Author:

Karen White is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author and currently writes what she refers to as ‘grit lit’—Southern women’s fiction—and has also expanded her horizons into writing a mystery series set in Charleston, South Carolina. Karen hails from a long line of Southerners but spent most of her growing up years in London, England and is a graduate of the American School in London. When not writing, she spends her time reading, scrapbooking, playing piano, and avoiding cooking. She currently lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two children, and two spoiled Havanese dogs.

More Bedtime Stories for Cynics Presented by Nick Offerman (Audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 3+ hrs.
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More Bedtime Stories for Cynics Presented by Nick Offerman is a collection of bed time stories based on fairy tales and twists them toward tragic endings. These stories are innovative. One story looks at what it would be like to be a princess turned into a frog who is unsure if she would even know how to be human if she found her prince. Another story looks at the veterinary tasks from a dog’s point of view and the story that results is creepy. Not all of these stories are creepy, but many of them look at the darker side of fairy tales.

I enjoyed the multitude of narrators for the stories – Patrick Stewart, Alia Shawkat, Elliot Page, Jane Lynch, John Waters, Anjelica Huston, Wendell Pierce, Mike Birbiglia, Rachel Dratch, Matt Walsh, Nicole Byer, Harry Goaz, Aisling Bea, and Gary Anthony Williams.Yes, you read that correctly, the lead of NAILED IT!, Patrick Stewart aka Captain Picard, and John Waters! Nick Offerman is a delight with his asides and conversational style when introducing these stories.

Would you want to listen to these at bedtime? You might; nothing is overly horrifying. What these cemented for me is that I have a dark sense of humor sometimes. Yes, I chuckled at some of these stories.

More Bedtime Stories for Cynics Presented by Nick Offerman is a fun collection of stories that will leave you guessing. I really enjoyed these and will probably pick up the next collection of these stories.

RATING: Quatrain

All the Rivers Flow into the Sea and Other Stories by Khanh Ha

Source: the author
Paperback, 210 pgs.
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All the Rivers Flow into the Sea and Other Stories by Khanh Ha, winner of the EastOver Prize for Fiction, are stories in which cultures seem insurmountable until there’s an undercurrent of emotion the breaks through those external barriers. Underneath these stories is the roiling tide, pushing and pulling these characters toward and away from one another.

“He makes me homesick. I realize I’m in a foreign country. I can speak its language, live its habits, think its thoughts, but I’ll never be part of it.” (pg. 178, “The Children of Icarus”)

In the opening story, “The Woman-Child,” there’s a tension between a young Vietnamese man, who returns to Vietnam as part of his research of how shrimp farmers are affecting the waterway, and a young woman who cooks for her fisherman father and feels like the woman at the inn is like a mother. He grew up in America and looks at her through an American lens, but she is a young, independent woman who wants to show no weakness in front of him. These moments of passionate tension and the strength of independence enable the tension to break without the characters themselves breaking under the weight.

“I stared at him. He could have stabbed me and still not have hurt me as much as the tone of his voice did.” (pg. 62, “The Dream Catcher”)

Ha’s characters are complex and struggling against cultural expectation and tempting passions. They are looking for their path, but often find they are pulled into a direction they never expected. There is a tumbling of light and dark into a gray sea that flows between each character who is being tossed on their adrift boat. Ha reminds us that tragedy touched everyone, but it is not always apparent on the surface.

All the Rivers Flow into the Sea and Other Stories by Khanh Ha is another collection that will capture your imagination. From the magical market to the tragedy of lost lives, Ha’s stories are fairy tales in which characters face tragedy head on and seek solace in life and the blessings they have. I didn’t want to reach the end of this collection.

RATING: Cinquain

***Also check out Ha’s poem, a Book Signing Horror Story.

Other Reviews:

About the Author:

Multi award winning author Khanh Ha is the author of Flesh, The Demon Who Peddled Longing, and Mrs. Rossi’s Dream. He is a seven-time Pushcart nominee, finalist for the Mary McCarthy Prize, Many Voices Project, Prairie Schooner Book Prize, and The University of New Orleans Press Lab Prize. He is the recipient of the Sand Hills Prize for Best Fiction, the Robert Watson Literary Prize in Fiction, The Orison Anthology Award for Fiction, The James Knudsen Prize for Fiction, The C&R Press Fiction Prize, and The EastOver Fiction Prize.

Mrs. Rossi’s Dream was named Best New Book by Booklist and a 2019 Foreword Reviews INDIES Silver Winner and Bronze Winner. All the Rivers Flow into the Sea & Other Stories has already won the EastOver Fiction Prize. Visit him on Facebook and Twitter.


Admit This to No One by Leslie Pietrzyk

Source: Purchased
Paperback, 255 pgs.
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Admit This to No One by Leslie Pietrzyk is a stunning collection of short stories that are interconnected in ways that will surprise you. All of these stories are in and around Washington, D.C. One of the stories also appeared in the anthology, This Is What America Looks Like (my poem is in there, too, and is how I discovered this collection was being published!)

Pietrzyk’s prose will lull you into a false sense of security before she strikes with lines that upend her stories or characters. Readers go into each story believing they know who these powerful and not-so-powerful characters are, but eventually, the story reveals what we all refuse to admit — we need and crave love and acceptance, even if we do things to make it so hard for people to love and accept us.

From “Till Death Do Us Part”: “What that money adds up to is a satisfying figure, almost a super-tremendously huge figure. That’s me knowing how much he loves me, which might be pathetic if the figure weren’t so satisfyingly huge.” (pg. 15)

From “Wealth Management”: “Winning seems like enough, or all there is anyway, and it’s these thoughts that are in his head during the drive home as Chloe stares straight ahead, eyes glittery with tears she won’t dare let him see.” (pg. 42)

The Speaker of the House looms large in the collection, with his influence reaching far outside the capital, whether his impact on his illegitimate daughter or his first-born daughter or his trusty right-hand woman. Fatherly relationships play a central role in this collection, as do the influences of men on how women perceive themselves, want to be seen, and struggle to be while maintaining their independence.

Like the churn and turbulence of the Potomac River, Pietrzyk provides a glimpse into what political life in D.C. looks like, but she also demonstrates the emptiness and tense tightrope walking that it requires. Admit This to No One is a short story collection for the modern age and definitely one you won’t put down before turning the final page.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Leslie Pietrzyk is the author of the novel Silver Girl, released in 2018 by Unnamed Press, and called “profound, mesmerizing, and disturbing” in a Publishers Weekly starred review. In November 2021, Unnamed Press published Admit This to No One, a collection of stories set in Washington, DC, which The Washington Post called “a tour de force from a gifted writer.” Pietrzyk’s collection of unconventionally linked short stories, This Angel on My Chest, won the 2015 Drue Heinz Literature Prize and was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Kirkus Reviews named it one of the 16 best story collections of the year, Her previous novels are Pears on a Willow Tree and A Year and a Day. Short fiction and essays have appeared in Southern Review, Ploughshares, Gettysburg Review, Hudson Review, The Sun, Shenandoah, Arts & Letters, River Styx, Iowa Review, Cincinnati Review, TriQuarterly, New England Review, Salon, Washingtonian, Southern Indiana Review, Washington Post Magazine, and many others. She has received fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference, and in 2020, her story “Stay There” was awarded a Pushcart Prize. Pietrzyk is a member of the core fiction faculty at the Converse low-residency MFA program and often teaches in the MA Program in Writing at Johns Hopkins University. Raised in Iowa, she now lives in North Carolina.

Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens (audio)

Source: Purchased
Audible, 10+ hrs.
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Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens, narrated by Charlotte Beaumont, is a delightful weekend getaway with Laura, a writer for a lifestyle platform (read sponsored content). She heads to Jersey, England, from London to seek out her parents’ love story. on the plane she ends up meeting an attractive man who stoops to pick up her tampons. But she thinks nothing of this meet cute as she strives to find all the places her parents took pictures during their summer of romance. As a writer of happily ever after (HEA) stories, she has a cinematic notion of love.

While Laura is clearly to focused on HEA stories and finding love, her story demonstrates that she needs to learn to accept reality and learn how to find her own direction. When she falls into Ted’s cab and commissions him on her quest, she has no idea how things will change for her.

I cannot tell you how many times I laughed during this book. There are so many hilarious moments. Laura does have her cringy moments where I wondered what on earth she was thinking and whether she is really that clueless. Her boss, Suki, is a maniac and hard-nosed editor. Laura gets herself in hot water when her priorities shift away from that of Suki’s.

Is Laura’s meet cute with the man, Jasper, whose suitcase she ends up with after her flight to Jersey or is it something less cinematic? Jasper is a well-mannered perfect fit in terms of likes and dislikes, but there’s just no zing. Along the way, Laura meets plenty of colorful relatives and Ted’s family and friends. She finds herself immersed in Jersey’s culture and falling in love with the horizon again — much like that summer of love her parents had.

Just Haven’t Met You Yet by Sophie Cousens, narrated by Charlotte Beaumont, is a delightful romantic comedy that I couldn’t help smiling as the narration continued. Laura does grow throughout, and some of that is painful. Ted is a scruffy man at the start who improves upon acquaintance. Cousens is an author I’ll definitely read again.

RATING: Cinquain

About the Author:

Sophie Cousens started her career in television, where she produced, among other things, The Graham Norton Show, Big Brother, Ant and Dec and Russell Howard’s Good News. Sophie currently lives in Jersey where she now writes full time. She lives with her husband Tim and has two small children who keep her occupied with important questions such as ‘but did Cinderella have a toothbrush?’ and ‘do giraffe’s know they have really long necks?’ She yearns for a time when she will be able to add a miniature dachshund to the party.