Friday, January 1, 2021

Five Star Friday: December 2020



Five Star Friday is my version of the monthly wrap-up. On the first Friday of each month, I will share my five-star reads from the previous month. Fingers crossed, I have lots of books to tell you about.

I can't believe the year is over! I more than met my Goodreads goal and compiled quite a list of incredible books this year. I finished 44 books this month, and these 3 were the best of the bunch. Two of my 5-star books are 2021 releases, and if this is any indiction of the year to come, it's going to be amazing! 

The Ex-Talk 

Rachel Lynn Solomon
Public radio co-hosts navigate mixed signals in Rachel Lynn Solomon's sparkling romantic comedy debut.

Shay Goldstein has been a producer at her Seattle public radio station for nearly a decade, and she can't imagine working anywhere else. But lately it's been a constant clash between her and her newest colleague, Dominic Yun, who's fresh off a journalism master's program and convinced he knows everything about public radio.

When the struggling station needs a new concept, Shay proposes a show that her boss green-lights with excitement. On The Ex Talk, two exes will deliver relationship advice live, on air. Their boss decides Shay and Dominic are the perfect co-hosts, given how much they already despise each other. Neither loves the idea of lying to listeners, but it's this or unemployment. Their audience gets invested fast, and it's not long before The Ex Talk becomes a must-listen in Seattle and climbs podcast charts.

As the show gets bigger, so does their deception, especially when Shay and Dominic start to fall for each other. In an industry that values truth, getting caught could mean the end of more than just their careers.
This book!!! It was simply wonderful. I am so glad RLS decided to write rom-coms, because she is so good at it. I had high expectations, and RLS exceeded them. Yes, this was fun, swoony, and Solomon's love of radio really showed, but it was the way she tackled loneliness that really spoke to me and touched my heart.

Happy Singles Day 

Ann Marie Walker
Single and proud of it! Oh, oops...

As a Certified Professional Organizer, everything in Paige Parker's world is as it should be. Perfect apartment, perfect office, perfect life. And now, the perfect vacation planned to honor Singles Day. After all, what's better than celebrating her pride in being single? Because who needs a man anyway? They have zero taste in quality television, leave the toilet seat up, and sleep with your best friend. No thanks. Her life is fine just the way it is.

As the owner of a now-dormant bed & breakfast, Lucas Croft's life is simple and quiet. It's only him and his five-year-old daughter, which is just the way he likes it. Because who needs a woman anyway? They nag you to clean up your stuff, want the toilet seat put down, and expect the dishes to be done the same day the meal is cooked. No thanks. His life is fine just the way it is.

But when Paige books a room that Lucas' well-intentioned sister listed without his knowledge, their two worlds collide. If they can survive the week together, they just might discover exactly what they've both been missing.
I knew I would enjoy this book, but I never expected it to be as emotional as it was. It's billed as a rom-com, and it was very funny, but there were these moments, especially regarding the hero's loss, which reduced me to a puddle. It was really touching and beautiful seeing these two connect. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it tugged at my heart, and I loved every second of it. 

Anxious People

Fredrik Backman
A poignant, charming novel about a crime that never took place, a would-be bank robber who disappears into thin air, and eight extremely anxious strangers who find they have more in common than they ever imagined

Looking at real estate isn't usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. The captives include a recently retired couple who relentlessly hunt down fixer-uppers to avoid the painful truth that they can't fix up their own marriage. There's a wealthy banker who has been too busy making money to care about anyone else and a young couple who are about to have their first child but can't seem to agree on anything, from where they want to live to how they met in the first place. Add to the mix an eighty-seven-year-old woman who has lived long enough not to be afraid of someone waving a gun in her face, a flustered but still-ready-to-make-a-deal real estate agent, and a mystery man who has locked himself in the apartment's only bathroom, and you've got the worst group of hostages in the world.

Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, hurts, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—desperately crave some sort of rescue. As the authorities and the media surround the premises, these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in a motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens next.

Humorous, compassionate, and wise, Anxious People is an ingeniously constructed story about the enduring power of friendship, forgiveness, and hope—the things that save us, even in the most anxious of times.
Backman's book are such a special treat for me. His storytelling, his humor, and his astute observations of human behavior are always combined in best way in his books. This one had a few surprises, along with some really heartbreaking moments, and I was grateful for each and every emotion I experienced. 








Did you have any five-star reads last month? 
Let us know in the comments!

32 comments:

  1. I really enjoyed Anxious People too! I had a couple of books that came close including Nevernight by Jay Kristoff and Charlotte by Helen Moffett

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  2. I read my first Backman in 2020, and I'm definitely looking forward to reading more from him. So glad you loved this one. I've also had my eye on The Ex Talk. I'll be looking forward to it!!

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    1. I started with his 3rd book (?) - Britt Marie. He was at BEA one year, and I waited on his line, because, why not! I ended up really liking the book, but didn't make time for the rest until this year. I am glad I did. The Ex-Talk was so good, and I am excited that RLS is writing grown up romances.

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  3. Wow, can't believe you read 44 books in one month! Anxious People was enjoyable.

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    1. My eBook rate stays pretty much 5 books per week (sometimes 6). It's the audiobooks that pump up my reading. I listen to them all day as I work.

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  4. Seeing Anxious People on this 5 star Friday makes me so happy! I loved that book!

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  5. I preordered The Ex Talk - I can't wait for it! So glad to hear you loved it.

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    1. Yeah! I hope you enjoy it. I thought it was wonderful!

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  6. I have a copy of Anxious People heading my way so I am thrilled to hear that you enjoyed it! I have high hopes for 2021 book!

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    1. I hope you love it! I am a such a fan of Backman's storytelling.

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  7. Darn it - I got rejected for Ex Talk but you've reminded me to request it from the library.
    And Happy 2021!!!

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    1. Really? Boo! I hope you get a chance to read it. I thought it was wonderful

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  8. Happy Singles Day and The Ex-Talk both sound fantastic!

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    1. I expected a lot from The Ex-Talk, but Singles was a total surprise to me. I really loved them both.

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  9. Good for you meeting your GR goal!! And these ones look so fun. Hope you have a wonderful year of reading in 2021!

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    1. All great book and well above the rest for me.

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  10. I'm so jealous that you have so many five star reads! Anxious People looks like one I might actually enjoy!

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    1. This was my lowest month in a while, but even the non-5-star books were good. Backman is wonderful. I cannot praise his books enough

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  11. Oh my gosh Sam, forty four books for the month! I only read just over fifty for the entire year, that's a remarkable effort! I'm so glad you enjoyed these ones Sam, they sound absolutely brilliant and I'm looking to read less review copies this year and more books that will engage and delight me. Beautiful reviews!

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    1. I read about 5 a week (the rest are audiobooks). I keep finding lots of gems in my backlist, so I totally support reading your shelves. I take a lot of books out of the library too.

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  12. YAS Anxious People was amazballlsss! I've not read any other books by Backman, but I'm sure I will after reading Anxious People.

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    1. I plowed through Backman's books this year having read Britt-Marie years ago. The Beartown books were standouts, but Ove was my favorite. Hope you get to read more.

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  13. I will admit that I have been off the book scene for a while due to the craziness that was 2020. However, I'm now resurfacing and realizing there are a ton of amazing books that came out last year. The Ex Talk sounds like it would be a favorite for me. I will definitely be adding that to my Goodreads list.

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    1. Have you read any of Solomon's YA books? This is more like her most recent, in that it's a rom-com with a lot of heart. I hope you get to read it!

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  14. How do you do that??? Finish 44 books in one month? Wow. And I loved Anxious People

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    1. Audiobooks. I really only read the same number of books each week. The variable is my audiobooks, and working from home, I am listening to a lot more, since I don't have to interact with anyone.

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  15. I keep hearing so many great things about Anxious People! I need to jump on the bandwagon soon, too! :)

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    1. I recommend Backman in general. I feel his stories have a wide appeal, since they are always cross generational and are about connection. I think most people could appreciate that.

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  16. The Ex Talk is coming up soon for me and I cannot wait! I'm so glad you enjoyed the Backman book too. That one was a winner for me too. I have a couple more from his backlist to read and I'm really looking forward to them because his storytelling is just so amazing.

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    1. I hope you love The Ex-Talk. I really thought it was something special. Backman's books actually earned all their hype, if you ask me. I am now done with his backlist of fiction. I need something new!

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