Sarah Grunder Ruiz
Jo who lives a fairly boring life outside of her job as a yacht stewardess. For her 29th birthday, Jo’s best friend encourages her to make a list of 30 things she would like to do before turning 30. But unexpected life events may prevent Jo from crossing every adventure off her list.
For the last year, yacht stewardess Jo Walker has been attempting to complete a bucket list of thirty things she wants to accomplish by her thirtieth birthday. Jo has almost everything she’s ever wanted, including a condo on the beach (though she’s the youngest resident by several decades) and an exciting job (albeit below deck) that lets her travel the world.
Jo is on track until the death of her nephew turns her life upside down, and the list falls by the wayside. But when her two nieces show up unannounced with plans to stay the summer, they discover her list and insist on helping Jo finish it. Though the remaining eight items (which include running a marathon, visiting ten countries, and sleeping in a castle) seem impossible to complete in twelve weeks, Jo takes on the challenge.
When she summons the courage to complete item number five–kiss a stranger–and meets Alex Hayes, all bets are off. As her feelings for Alex intensify and Jo’s inability to confront difficult emotions about her family complicates her relationships, she must learn to quit playing it safe with her heart before she loses what matters most.
The last few years, I have really tried to read less serious and more fun books to try to escape from the world. It has been a pretty large departure from my previous reading that was mainly literary fiction. So when I read a book that I think is going to be fun and cheery only to find that it makes me sad cry, I get a little irritated and bitter about the entire experience.
Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships is the story of Jo who lives a fairly boring life outside of her job as a super yacht stewardess. For her 29th birthday, Jo’s best friend encourages her to make a list of 30 things she would like to do before turning 30. But unexpected life events may prevent Jo from crossing every adventure off her list.
I really liked the premise of Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships and the character growth Jo experiences during it. I thought Jo was a compelling character (albeit one that could use some therapy.) The side characters and love interest were also likeable and genuine. They are definitely characters I look forward to reading more of (which will happen since a book about Jo’s best friend, Nina, is publishing soon.)
Where Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships fell short for me was all the grief. While there was romance in this book, I would argue the major focus of the novel is instead grief and Jo’s emotional journey. For me, this heavy subject matter weighed down the storyline. Grunder Ruiz handled grief and the growth of the main character with skill, but it was just not what I wanted out of this book. I think this is a “it’s not you, it’s me” thing.
Although the plot focused on grief, I still enjoyed everything else it encompassed. I enjoyed the creative ways used to check off Jo’s list. I like that the romantic conflict was not some stupid, contrived event simply to serve the purpose of a conflict. Furthermore, the ending did help redeem Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships from the moments that made me cry. I adore a feel-good and happy ending.
Overall, I really enjoyed Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships and shed some tears while reading it. If you like books that make your heart hurt and give you sad before any happy, then pick up Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships.
Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships
Contemporary Fiction; Romance
November 23, 2021