Book Recommendations

Sunday Book Recommendation

A week or so before Christmas, I was grumpy because I couldn’t find anything to read. I’d spent a ridiculous amount of time scrolling through the many Facebook book groups of which I’m a member without finding a single thing that spoke to me. The current popular tropes (fake boyfriends, sports romances, daddy/boy age play) aren’t tropes or themes I tend to gravitate toward, and it felt like it was the only thing I saw in my feed.

So I complained in the group chat I have with Ally and Ofelia, and Ally, my favorite Ally in the whole wide world, wrote “You like letters, don’t you? I thought this as fantastic. The writing is brilliant” and linked to a book.

And since I love epistolary novels (letters), I decided to download a sample. I loved the sample so I bought the book, and then I stayed up waaaaaay past my bedtime to finish it. At 1:46 am I wrote in the chat “Good lord Ally, that book you recommended wrecked me. I just finished it, I couldn’t put it down.”

It was one of the best books I read all last year. Maybe even the last few years? It is so good that I had to buy a physical copy, too. I need to have it in my bookshelf. And today, it arrived.

My feelings are — too vast to speak

Quote from A Land So Wild by Elyssa Warkentin


In 1845, the HMS Vanguard, under the command of Captain William Caulderson, departed England on a voyage of discovery to find a Northwest Passage through the perilous arctic waters separating the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. It was never heard from again. 

Five years later, Captain David Maxwell of the Serapis sets sail to attempt to recover the Vanguard and determine the fate of his former commander. 

Naturalist Embleton Hall is running from demons of his own. He doesn’t expect to find himself drawn to Captain Maxwell–but the two men form a bond that will become essential to their survival.

Together, they’ll brave the elements on a long and harrowing voyage to discover the fate of the lost ship Vanguard. But they’ll also learn that some secrets are best left frozen in ice.

Amazon :: Goodreads

His face. His face. I see it with my fingers. I feel it on my tongue.

David, I was wrong about writing our own story. We are not writing at all, but rather learning to read it in the darkness.

Quote from A Land So Wild by Elyssa Warkentin

This book is probably not for everyone. You really have to love the epistolary format since the book is told entirely in letters, telegrams, journal and log entries etc. It’s also a historical story and the quite slow moving, which I appreciated but know not everyone does. I also read a few reviews that said that the readers didn’t connect with the romance just because it was told in letters and journal entries, but I vehemently disagree with that opinion. I read the MCs’ journal entries about each other and I ached. The romance hit me extra hard right in the gut just because the way it was written was so raw and real. Some parts I read underneath my duvet because I was sobbing and I didn’t want to wake up the hubby.

The plot about the missing ship was absolutely riveting and toward the end I could hardly breathe. The Arctic setting was so well described I had to put on warm socks because I was freezing along with the crew.

I loved every single thing about it. It was heart-breaking and awe-inspiring and so, so beautiful.

I need Embleton as I need air in my lungs.

Quote from A Land So Wild by Elyssa Warkentin

I give this book five million stars. Thank you again for the recommendation, Ally ❤️

Read Around the Rainbow Web Ring

Read Around the Rainbow: How to Romance a Romance Writer

Read Around the Rainbow is a blogging project featuring yours truly, A.L. Lester, Ofelia Gränd, Holly Day, K.L. Noone, Amy Spector, Addison Albright, Fiona Glass, Lilian Francis, and Ellie Thomas. Every month, we pick a topic and then we blog about it. Check the other blog posts by clicking the RAtR widget in the sidebar, or the links at the bottom of this post.

The first RAtR topic for 2023 is how to romance a romance writer.

I was the one who came up with this topic; I thought it was fitting because we’re about to enter the month of love (aka February), and also because I’m curious about what other romance writers find romantic. The response I got to my topic suggestion was interesting, because more than one of my fellow RatR writers said that they’re not romantic at all, so they weren’t even sure they’d be able to write something on the topic (I’m not naming names, but you might be able to figure it out when you read the other people’s posts 😁).

I found it intriguing and puzzling that someone can write a romance story, but not consider themselves romantic. That got me thinking. Maybe it depends on how we define the word romance? Or what we perceive as romantic?

So I spent a long time thinking about what I find romantic, and I came to the conclusion that it’s about paying attention. My husband and I have been together for decades; he knows me really well by now, and he’s great at paying attention to my likes and dislikes, so when he does something thoughtful for me, I often feel romanced off my feet. I’m not talking about roses and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates on Valentine’s day, or grand gestures like proposing in front of a crowd. No, I’m someone who’s romanced by the little things.

Like him listening to me grumbling about the uselessness of my tea strainer and watching me spit out tiny pieces of leaves that the stupid thing allowed to float out into my tea, and deciding to do something about it. So he searched the internet until he found the best tea strainer in the history of tea strainers that doesn’t let the tiniest particle escape into my mug. I was ready to swoon after I tried it the first time.

It’s things like him bringing me a glass of sparkling water every night when we go to bed, or paying attention to my work load when I work in the home office, and if he notices my stress levels rising, he’ll come into my office and cheer me up with a kiss or some kind of pastry for an impromptu fika break (because every Swede feels better after fika!). It’s him gifting me his fancy, expensive noise cancellation headphones so I don’t have to listen to the chatter on the train on the days I’m working at the office. Or finding a second-hand copy of an out-of-print vinyl record by one of my favorite artists that I’ve been wanting for ages, and buying it for me.

He pays attention. He makes me feel seen and appreciated and cared for. And to me, that’s the most romantic thing in the world.

And isn’t that something we all want? Isn’t that why the characters in second-chances romance stories remember each other’s coffee orders when they meet again after not having seen each other for ten years? Because we, as authors, want to make the readers swoon when the characters pay attention to each other, when they see each other and remember the little things.

Anyone can buy me a bunch of roses on Valentine’s Day, but only someone who knows me really well would buy me the world’s greatest tea strainer.

The super fantastic, non-leaking tea strainer

Don’t forget to check out my fellow RatR authors to see how to best romance them.

Ellie Thomas :: A.L. Lester :: Holly Day :: K.L. Noone :: Fiona Glass :: Addison Albright :: Ofelia Gränd


New Release Spotlight: Squirrel Circus by Holly Day

The lovely Holly Day is back on the blog today. Yay! She’s here talking about squirrels, and let me just say one thing before I leave the floor to her: even with Temporary Squirrel Brain Syndrome, Holly is more organized than the rest of us when we’re our best selves! ❤️

Welcome, Holly!

Hello, everyone! Thank you, lovely Nell, for allowing me back on the blog 🥰 I hope you’ve all had a good start to the new year. I feel like I’m standing a little steadier on my feet again – I lost my mother-in-law in September and then my mother in November, both to cancer, and both too young, so I’ve been on shaky ground. We’re not through yet, far from, but we’re moving forward.

This month, we’re celebrating Squirrel Appreciation Day, and I’ve felt a bit like a squirrel these last few months. Did you know squirrels misplace about 75% of the food they gather? Poor things. That’s how I’ve felt. Normally, I’m organised, and I never miss a date or forget an appointment. If you had any idea how many times I’ve asked Nell about when I was to be here, what we decided concerning this or that, you’d laugh. But luckily, I’m not a squirrel, and there is food in the shop, so I don’t have to starve when I misplace/forget/mix up things. And as mentioned above, I’m doing better.

But squirrels. Do you like squirrels? My house is surrounded by trees, so I have quite a few squirrels jumping between the branches, chasing each other. But squirrels have enemies, and in Squirrel Circus, their biggest threat is wolves.

So naturally, poor Jyran, our squirrel shifter, has a fated mate who’s a wolf. Gideon, the wolf, takes one look at him and says no. He will not be known as the wolf who mated a squirrel.

The result? They both live their lives, for years, without having any contact. The problem, if we are to see it as a problem, is that they have a friend in common, and when shit hits the fan, they have no choice but to cooperate.

My greatest joy with this story was writing Jyran. Squirrel brains unite!

He’s surprisingly organised when it comes to work, but when it comes to his things, he tends to want to hoard and often misplaces things. Poor soul.


Can you forgive being rejected by your mate?

For as long as Jyran Pechman can remember, he’s dreamed about finding his soulmate. As a child, he lost his family, and he’s been moving around ever since. He hates it, and he wants nothing more than to have a home. A mate. A place to belong.

Gideon Everett might have dreamed about the day he’d find his mate, but his mate was never an unorganized, nut-hoarding squirrel shifter in those dreams. Wolves eat squirrels, so when Jyran walks into Gideon’s bar, he throws him out and tells him he wants nothing to do with him. He has a reputation to think about, and he will not be known as the wolf who mated a squirrel.

Being rejected hurts more than Jyran ever imagined, and he swears never to set foot in Gideon’s bar again. After the initial shock, Gideon is almost sure he made the right decision. Almost. What if he made the wrong decision? Now when he knows his mate is out there, can he live on as if they’ve never met, or does he have to … ugh … apologize?

Paranormal Gay Romance // 36,035 words

Buy link:

JMS Books :: Amazon ::


The next morning when Jyran exited the bathroom with a towel around his middle after having showered, Adara was in his room, riffling through his briefcase. Icy cold filled his chest. Those letters were private! “What are you doing?”

He’d imagined she’d jump and look guilty at finding him watching her, but you didn’t sneak up on a vampire. She’d heard him coming a mile away.

“I have to go.” She continued to riffle through his letters, though her fingers moved so fast, he relaxed a fraction. There was no way she’d have time to read what he’d written on them at the pace she was going.


“Valerie was attacked, and some human found her and took her to the hospital. I have to get there and see if I can get her out before they realize she’s healing too quickly.”

Jyran stared. Valerie had been on Adara’s team when she’d picked up Jyran. She was a bear shifter, and she hadn’t been overly pleased to know Jyran existed, but she hadn’t tried to kill him. It was nice of her. They’d kept away from each other. “Attacked how?”

“I’m not sure, but I have to go.”

“To Doson?” Last Jyran had heard, Valerie lived in Doson.

“Yeah, she’s in the hospital there.”

“Aren’t… eh… her sleuth nearby?” Did she have a sleuth? He knew nothing of her other than he did best to stay away from wherever they could get food because she was bound to be there.

Adara huffed. “Can’t have a hospital room filled with bears. Jesus, Jyran, use your brain.”

Jyran winced. Adara often made fun of his squirrel brain, but then she was joking, not snarling at him as she was now.

She sighed. “Sorry, I’m just… She’s freaking strong. Who could get the drop on her?”

Jyran shrugged. Who attacked a bear? “Was she in human form?”


“Maybe they believed she was human and was easy prey?”

Adara shook her head. “No, there are claw marks on her. It was a shifter, but who attacks a bear? It’s suicidal.” Silence stretched while Adara frowned at the wall. “She called me.”

“Valerie?” Jyran hadn’t believed they stayed in contact.

“Yeah, about a week ago, left a voicemail. It was cryptic. I meant to call her back, but we were on the road, and I kept forgetting. She said something about being careful and keeping an eye on you. I was gonna ask what she meant, but…” She shrugged.

Keeping an eye on him? Valerie had never cared about him. She cared about Adara, of that he was sure, but she didn’t care about him.

Adara looked around. “Where is Justin?”

“He went down for breakfast.” Jyran had made excuses, said he wasn’t hungry yet despite always eating first thing in the morning, but he needed to distance himself from Justin.

“Stick close to him. I’ll be back as soon as I can, but don’t be alone until we know—”

“Doson is an hour away. I have a hard time believing the shifter who attacked Valerie is here.”

“Unless they’re out to get you.” She pushed the briefcase away. “Where is the paper with all the phone numbers?”

Oh, that’s what she’s looking for? “In the work briefcase.” Which was brown leather, not black. “Why would you think they’d be out to get me? I’m no one.”

He was invisible. No one but Adara wanted him around.

“You’re a squirrel.”

He grabbed the work briefcase and handed her the folder with all the phone numbers to everyone who’d ever worked for her.

“Yes, people kill squirrels for fun. They don’t go around attacking bears to get to them. We’re entertainment they stumble upon.”

Adara stared at him. “What do you mean?”

He sighed and grabbed a shirt from the closet. He might be a shifter, but he preferred to be dressed. “If you’re gonna take down a bear or a pack of wolves, you need to plan. A squirrel? They walk past me on the sidewalk and pounce. It doesn’t take any planning. It’s no big deal to them. I’m the appetizer before they get to the main course. No one would attack a bear who used to work for you to get to me. It’s too much work.”

He reached for a pair of plum pants. He could pull off a plum-colored three-piece suit. Grinning, he pulled the pants off the shelf and frowned as a bag of peanuts fell to the floor. Oh, nice. But had he put them there? He couldn’t remember touching the plum-colored suit in weeks, except when he moved it from his suitcase to the shelf. He must have, though.

“It would hurt me greatly if they got to you.” The panic shining in Adara’s eyes made him pause.

“Oh, thank you, babe. I’d be devastated if something happened to you, too.”

“No.” She was in front of him in a blink of an eye. “I don’t only mean I would mourn you—which I would. It would wreck me to lose you. I mean, you’re the one who keeps everything afloat. I know you hate moving around. I know you hate the planning, the double-checking, the triple-checking, the phone calls, the bookings, and so on, but without you, I’d get nowhere. If someone wanted to sabotage me, all they’d have to do would be to get to you.”

Jyran stared. “What?” He was no one. She’d taken him in to protect him. He was a burden she carried because she was a good person.

She shook her head. “What do you do for me, Jyran?”

“I travel with you.”

She nodded. “And what, freeload?”

He winced. “Yeah… I live in hotels you pay for, eat food you pay for, and so on.”

The huff surprised him. “You’re the one who books all the hotel rooms.”

He nodded. He did.

“You’re the one who books the arenas. You’re the one who talks to the ticket companies, to the marketing people, to the food people, to the light technicians, and whatever the hell else we have traveling with us.”

He frowned at her. “No, we make a plan, you and I.”

She stared at him long enough to make him squirm. “What is it I do?”

“You say, I want to go to Ordbury.”

“Mmm, and you make it happen.”

“We make it happen.” And it was pretty cool. They looked at a map, Adara would say: I want to go here, and then they did. He wouldn’t have been able to if he was in Doson with his mate. The pain stabbing his heart was so familiar, he barely reflected on it.

“You. You’re the one who makes it happen. You make an estimate of what we need. You tell me what I need to do. You make all the phone calls.”

“Anyone can do that.” He was a squirrel. He couldn’t be in charge of anything. The peanut bag on the floor was evidence enough. He forgot where he kept his food.

“No, Jyran. Everyone can’t. I wouldn’t last a day without you.”

“You would.” She would. He was no one special.

The glare wasn’t what he’d expected. “I’m going, and I’m going to get to the bottom of this. No one threatens what’s mine and walks away unharmed.”

Jyran blinked, well aware his eyes were like saucers. “Valerie hasn’t been working for you for more than a year. I don’t think this is an attack on you.”

“It better not be. If it is, I’m gonna slaughter everyone living in Doson.”

Wincing, Jyran stepped into his pants only to realize he’d forgotten to put on underwear and stepped out of them again. “It might not have anything to do with Doson.”

“We’ll see. Don’t be alone, and I’ll call you as soon as I know something. I might need you to build a case file.”

Oh… did it mean he could get a new briefcase? “I want a leather messenger bag with double straps and a key for the lock.”

“Yeah, yeah, whatever.” Then she narrowed her eyes. “Is a key a good idea?”

There were so many places you could hide a key. “No, probably not. But dark leather and double straps. Vintage-looking.”

“Go for it. I’ll call.”

Giddiness bubbled up in his chest. Yes! A new bag.

About Holly Day

According to Holly Day, no day should go by uncelebrated and all of them deserve a story. If she’ll have the time to write them remains to be seen. She lives in rural Sweden with a husband, four children, more pets than most, and wouldn’t last a day without coffee.

Holly gets up at the crack of dawn most days of the week to write gay romance stories. She believes in equality in fiction and in real life. Diversity matters. Representation matters. Visibility matters. We can change the world one story at the time.

Connect with Holly on social media:

Website :: Facebook :: Twitter :: Pinterest :: BookBub :: Goodreads :: Newsletter :: TikTok


New Release Spotlight: Gentlemen’s Agreement by Ellie Thomas

Thank you so much, lovely Nell, for having me as your guest again today. I’m Ellie, I write MM Historical Romance novellas, and I’m here today to chat about my latest release, Gentlemen’s Agreement which is currently in the 20% off pre-release/new release sale at JMS Books until January 20th.

This is the fourth story in my Regency romp Twelve Letters series, with an ensemble cast and a London setting. The first story takes place during the spring Season of 1814 and introduces three potential couples. Jo Everett, my MC, a gentleman about town, falls in love with Daniel Walters, a Bond Street tailor. Jo’s best friend from schooldays, Captain Ben Harding, meets his match when he decides to woo rather than shoot Doctor Edward Stephens, after Edward’s first catastrophic attempt to admit his feelings for Ben.

The third couple, who get together properly in the second story, Queer Relations, set in the autumn of 1814, are Percy Havilland and Nathan Brooks. Nathan, a much-respected gentleman in his thirties with a sharp business brain, should have more sense than to fall for the lures of the divine Percy. Blond, bratty and physically gorgeous, Percy’s an appalling flirt with a vast number of notches on his bedpost.

In Queer Relations, a family scandal upturns Percy’s rarified existence, and his rocky relationship with Nathan deepens. Percy also finds he has true friends in the group who rally around to support him when he faces social rejection.

In the third story, Coming of Age set in late spring 1815, the three relationships are well-established, but the course of true love never runs smoothly. Edward and Ben’s relationship is strained by distance and family disapproval. Edward is now based in rural Wiltshire, assisting his father in the family medical practice. Although Ben, in the guise of a patient, is more than happy to abandon London for Edward, the older Mr Stephens worries that Edward is wasting his skills pandering to one wealthy invalid. Although Jo and Daniel are blissfully in love, their desire to live together is thwarted by the rigid class divide, almost driving them apart.

During books 2 and 3, Percy is preoccupied with looking after members of his family and relies on Nathan’s support and advice, even if he has to be persuaded to act on this wise guidance.

In Gentlemen’s Agreement, which takes place in September 1815, these issues of the heart come to a head for our couples. Will Ben and Edward, pining horribly for each other, get the chance to be physically closer? Will Jo and Daniel get their heart’s desire to share a home? And will Percy manage his increasing family responsibilities and still find time for Nathan?

When writing this fourth story about my couples, I thought it would be the finale. But I’m currently writing a spin-off story, The Misfit, out on April 1st, and have a short Twelve Letters story scribbled in a notepad, titled May Wedding, for a May release. So Gentlemen’s Agreement may be the final story in the main thread leaving our three couples happily settled, but my Regency boys will return!

The group of Regency men who meet each Thursday at The Golden Lion in London’s St James’ find their lives become increasingly intertwined during the early autumn of 1815. Now the long wars with France are finally over, Jo Everett and Captain Ben Harding are heavily involved with their charity to assist injured ex-servicemen, as well as encountering personal complications. 

Ben’s romantic interest Edward Stephens remains a hundred miles away in Wiltshire, and although Jo and his true love Daniel Walters are in the same city, they are no closer to fulfilling their dream of sharing a home. Reformed brat Percy Havilland has a deluge of relatives and increasingly convoluted family problems to deal with in his new Chelsea abode, distracting him from his older partner Nathan Brooks. 

As the gentlemen juggle their feelings and duties, Ben’s former commanding officer involves them in capturing a spy ring that has inveigled the most exclusive ranks of high society. Their remit is to help foil Napoleon’s restoration as Emperor of France before he reaches the remote island of St. Helena and permanent exile.

Can this motley group of Regency men attain their happy ever after with their chosen partners? And as the nefarious treachery plays out in the select ballrooms of Mayfair, might Percy save the day by flirting for England?

JMS Books :: Amazon :: Books2Read :: Add to Goodreads :: Bookbub


“Me?” Jo’s voice rose to a squeak. “Are you certain that the Colonel mentioned me by name? I’m bound to be the last person considered fit for subterfuge, as I’d go blundering around like a bull in a china shop. Doesn’t your lot have properly trained agents for this sort of venture?”

My lot, be damned! Leave me out of it,” Ben grinned, sitting in his armchair and sipping the brandy he felt he deserved to extinguish the lingering taste of Amontillado and spycraft. “If you reckon you have no talent for espionage, what about me? I always steered clear of that side of operations while in the field. Although,” he said more seriously. “I was grateful enough for any information received in advance of a skirmish.”

Jo’s cheerful expression grew momentarily serious. “If that brought you safely through battle, then it must have some merit. But, even if I wanted to assist, I can’t fathom how an ordinary fellow like me, with no military connections except for you, can be of any assistance.”

“You’ve hit on the Colonel’s point exactly. Now hostilities are over, he posited that the arena of conflict is no longer the battlefield but the evening party. If he or his informers suddenly started to flock to Mayfair, the likely suspects would reconvene somewhere safer and hard to reach. But since the drawing room is your natural habitat, you would rouse no suspicion. 

Jo gave a noncommittal grunt as Ben warmed to his theme. “I can’t imagine I’m the only junior officer he’s approached. I surmise the Colonel has an extensive brigade of ex-soldiers and their cronies amongst the clubs and sporting venues to cover all eventualities.”

As Jo looked slightly reassured at not being singled out alone, Ben continued, “I have to admit the Colonel is astute in his selection. You’re not only more than socially acceptable, but you’re eminently reliable. No, don’t contradict me, I’ve known you too long. You never ratted on me at school for hiding Granger’s riding crop when he threatened to use it on us younger boys, even when he swore he’d truss you up over an open fire if you didn’t confess.”

Jo did not seem completely reassured by this fulsome commendation as he said doubtfully, “If you put it that way, I’ll be glad to do my bit, naturally, but I can’t promise I’ll be much use.”

“I won’t leave you in the lurch. I might even attempt to attend a few more parties for a good cause. Heaven knows I get invited to enough of them. Colonel Graham said he’d be grateful for extra recruits at our discretion. Is there anyone trustworthy you can think of offhand?”

“Well,” Jo began. “There’s always Percy.”

Ben glared at Jo in disbelief. “Percy?” He remonstrated. “Unless he’s gazing at his reflection I wouldn’t grant him any abilities of observation.”

“You’d be surprised at Percy’s powers of perception,” Jo said thoughtfully. “A year ago I would have said you had a fair point, but now he’s…”

As Jo paused to find the correct phrase, Ben could have easily supplied several examples including, become more bearable, less of a pointless popinjay, begun to notice other people exist. He was about to interject witheringly with his favourite, no longer a completely selfish arse, when Jo added, “…mellowed.”

Ben grinned. “If you say so. I remain to be convinced, but I bow to your superior knowledge. I have to admit I wasn’t keen on imposing on you or any of our friends, but Colonel Graham’s dire warnings of conspiracies convinced me. We simply cannot risk Napoleon getting free again and raising another army.” He shuddered at the recollection of Napoleon’s daring escape from exile in Elba, landing near Cannes in the South of France and sweeping through the country unchecked until his narrow defeat at Waterloo.

“I was unable to take part in the battle, but I can assist now, with a little help from my friends.”

“I’ll be glad to join your civilian platoon and be on the lookout for those all-important names you mentioned. And, with your approval, I’ll mention it to Percy, on a need-to-know basis.”

“Then I can advise Colonel Graham that matters are in hand.” Ben raised his glass, “To Operation Ballroom!”


Ellie Thomas lives by the sea. She comes from a teaching background and goes for long seaside walks where she daydreams about history. She is a voracious reader especially about anything historical. She mainly writes historical gay romance.

Ellie also writes historical erotic romance as L. E. Thomas.

Twitter: @e_thomas_author

About Nell

Goodbye December

New Year’s Day
sunlight on every field
is beloved

Matsuo Basho

That was 2022, folks. There have been better years, don’t you agree? But the focus of this blog post is December, and overall, it wasn’t too bad. Some parts were even excellent. Shall we have a look?

The first weekend of December, we went to visit my daughter to set up the Christmas tree. This year we had help: my very bossy and enthusiastic grandbaby did most of the work…as you probably can see on this detail image from the tree. Usually, we try to space out the decorations a bit more, but little W had other ideas. It was so much fun to decorate the tree with her. 😍

One early morning on my way to the office. I loved the color palette. I didn’t love the icy winds as much.

We were hit by a cold spell. For a few days, the temperatures plunged to -15C (5F) and I almost froze my behind off, but we lit both fires to keep warm. It was very cozy, but I was happy when it got warmer.

We had tickets to a concert one Friday evening. It was a Swedish synth-pop band playing, Adolphson & Falk, who were on tour celebrating the 40th anniversary of one of their most popular albums. It was a fantastic concert and we were energized and happy when it was over.

Only a couple days before we were meant to set off on our Christmas travels, we had car troubles and we had to leave it in the shop. The problem was more advanced than they’d first anticipated and it took longer than expected, so we had to wander around Malmö for hours and hours, waiting for the damned thing to be finished. In the end, they couldn’t fix it the same day, and since we were leaving early in the morning the next day, we got a rental. It was a foggy and dreary day and we had lots of stuff we were going to do that day in preparation for Christmas that we never got around to because of this hassle.

Let’s go to a bookstore, I said to my husband as we waited for the shop to get in touch with us about the car. I have new bookshelves to fill, after all. But Swedish bookstores are kind of boring if you don’t want to read Swedish or translated books, so I didn’t find a single thing I wanted to buy. Instead, I sat on a bench outside the store, muttering about how boring it was while reading a Christmassy story on my phone.

But in the end we left home as planned and arrived at my daughter’s house on schedule, where we kicked off the Grand Christmas Tour. On the morning of Christmas Eve (Swedes celebrate on Eve), my granddaughter discovered gifts underneath the tree that hadn’t been there when she went into the shower earlier, but that suddenly appeared at the same time as Gramma and Grampa 😍

After we’d opened presents and had breakfast, we left to have Christmas lunch with Little W’s other grandparents. Then we spent Christmas Day with my in-laws, and Boxing Day with my parents and brother.

On the 27th, the tour continued to a friend’s house where we were treated to lots of lovely food and conversations. Our friends have a huge great Dane who loved me (of course, he did; I’m allergic and can’t cuddle, so all dogs work hard to seek my attention) and guarded me and wanted to sit on my lap. He’s a beauty.

After that, we could finally go back home to some peace and quiet and a calm morning with tea and a book. I say “some” peace and quiet, because my daughter and her family went with us, and the house is never quiet with a toddler, right? 😍

New Year’s Eve was a lovely family affair, with an outdoors hot dog lunch, a beautiful New Year’s cake, a wonderful dinner, a New Year’s quiz (that I won!!), and cuddling with Little W by the kitchen fire. This moment right here in this picture, was the best moment of all of 2022.

Tell me something you did in December!

And here’s to a happy new year. May 2023 be better than the previous few years, amirite?