Thursday, January 4, 2018

What's Val Reading? (December 2017)

You may have noticed we didn't have a "What's Val Reading?" for November. That's because Val and her husband moved during November, so she didn't have time for much reading! But now she's back with her December reads.

(I've linked each book's Amazon page in the title in case you want to check it out. These are affiliate links, so if you make a purchase, I'll get a small commission.)

Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour by Morgan Matson (Goodreads)

I thoroughly enjoyed this fun YA novel about a cross-country road trip taken by Amy, a high school senior, and Roger, a sophomore in college.

I was a little nervous when I first started the book, because within the first chapter the reader discovers that Amy is grieving the sudden death of her father.  I’ve somehow managed to read a lot of YA lately where the protagonist is dealing with acute grief, and I was just kind of like, “not again!” because I just wanted a fun YA read, and I didn’t want it to be too heavy.  Much to my relief, it wasn’t!  I thought this book walked the perfect line of Amy dealing with her grief in a believable manner, while keeping the story light and enjoyable.

Another fun part of the book is that one of the stops along the way was in Wichita, Kansas, a city close to where my grandparents lived and where my siblings and I spent a fair amount of time growing up.  So that was a fun connection.  Overall, the story was enjoyable, and I liked the characters. 

Content warnings: One couple does engage in a sexual relationship, and while it isn’t described, it did feel like they rushed into it.  I would let a teen read the book, but I’d want to have a discussion with them about it. No language that I recall, but there may have been some. 4 stars.

The Chilbury Ladies’ Choir by Jennifer Ryan (Goodreads)

What a lovely book. It’s reminiscent of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society in both the setting (Britain during World War II) and the format (the book is entirely journal entries or public notices or letters), and I was nervous that it would just feel like a knock-off.  I was wrong – it is so well-done in its own right.  The story centers on the members of the Chilbury Ladies’ Choir and their adventures during the war.  I loved the characters and the way they developed throughout the story. 4.5 stars.

Content warnings: Certain characters are engaged in sexual relationships, but they aren’t described. No language that I recall.

Becky here: I also read The Chilbury Ladies' Choir last year, and I loved it, too! Also, here's the link to Val's review of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society.

The Royal We by Heather Cocks (Goodreads)

This book was SO MUCH FUN, and while it certainly isn’t literature, I loved it for what it was – a fun, gripping read that had me glued to the pages. The plot centers on Prince Nick, heir to the British throne, and Bex (aka Rebecca Porter), his one true love – who happens to be an American.  The parallels to William and Kate are obvious (Nick and Bex meet in college; Nick has a younger brother, Freddie, and Bex has a sister, Lacey), but the story is not just a fictionalized retelling of actual events.  I don’t know a ton about William and Kate’s history, but I think it’s safe to guess that a vast majority of the book is pure fiction. It was FASCINATING to get a glimpse at what “royal” life is probably like (spoiler: it’s not all fun and games. In fact, it’s mostly NOT fun.) I loved the characters I was supposed to love and loathed the ones I was supposed to hate. 5 stars.

Content warnings: There is mention of various characters engaging in sexual relationships, but nothing is overtly described.  Also, there is a good amount of language throughout.  If you love a good royals plot, this book is for you.

Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand (Goodreads)

This book is the first in Hilderbrand’s Winter Street Trilogy (which is ironically named, given there are four books in the series…).  It’s very obviously part of a series, in that there are lots of loose threads left hanging at the end of the book. This is my second Hilderbrand, and I’m sure it won’t be my last.  Her novels are always very readable and interesting, and keep the reader engaged, and this one was no different.  I kind of just wanted some fluff with a Christmas flair, and that’s exactly what this was. It’s a shorter book, so you don’t really have enough time to get super attached to the characters, but I’m sure in subsequent books I’ll love them more. 3.5 stars.

Content warnings:  Mild language throughout (I think?) and mention of characters having sex but nothing descriptive.

Have you read any of these books? What did you think?

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


  1. 'Amy and Roger' is the only of Morgan's books I've read, but I cannot wait to read more from her. Particularly her upcoming release! It sounds super cute.

    I've also heard good things about The Royal We but haven't picked that one up. Perhaps in 2018 I will. :)

    1. I haven't read any of Matson's books yet, but I did just place a hold on one at my local library (the only one they have of hers, and I'm drawing a blank as to the title right now!). Since I'm so entrenched in the inspy world most of the time, I rely on my sister's recommendations for other books--and The Royal We is certainly on my list :-) Thanks, as always, for stopping by, Rissi!


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