Cover Image: Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships

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Member Reviews

My favorite parts of the book:
★realistic romantic relationship between the main characters, Jo and Alex
★close-knit family (Mia, Kitty, Samson, and Jo's sister, Beth)
★thoughtful coworker/boss (Nina is such a gem, and so is Ollie the ex-chef.)
★refreshing background setting (It's not everyday scene to live on a fancy ship!)
★uplifting, satisfying, and heartbreaking way to deal with grief and loss

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships is my first book written by Sarah Grunder Ruiz and I'm certain it will not be the last. The writing style is poetic and makes it easy to indulge in the story. The protagonist, Jo, is trying to fulfill her Thirty-by-30 list and it's quite an adventure when many of her beloved friends and family come to her rescue. Undoubtedly, it's a huge surprise for Jo and at the same time, they manage to create lots of unforgettable memories together. The unbreakable family bond as well as the considerate colleagues' relationship are just too precious to miss!

Aside from the incredible secondary characters in this book, the romance between the main characters, Jo and Alex, is simply adorable. I mean, who doesn't love a hot yacht (single) chef (dad)?! Both of them have tons of adulting/parenting stuff to deal with on a daily basis, but seeing them find themselves in each other is beyond touching. What's more, Jo and Alex's romantic relationship is meant to be from the beginning so the slow-burn of it is pure TORTURE for me. It's killing me whenever they deny their feeling for each other.

It goes without saying that an outstanding book won't stand out without having something slightly profound. What impresses me about this book is that the main and secondary characters choose to cope with grief and loss of a family member by celebrating life. They truly embrace their emotions but never let the negativity and sorrow defeat them. That kind of spirits is highly admirable and the demonstration of it elevates the overall depth of the book.

All in all, this book is a MUST READ! The realistic romance and unforgettable character development are to die for. Better yet, the sequel, Luck and Last Resorts, will come out by the end of this year!! It'll be Nina and Ollie's story and I seriously can't wait to dive into that one! HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!!

***Thanks to Penguin Random House International Sales and the author for providing me with an e-copy via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.***
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This was an enjoyable story, but it was a little heavier than I wanted and not really for me. Definitely recommending this to my patrons!
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This is the type of book that you go in thinking you're getting a cute little rom com and you end up crying your eyes out. Check content warnings!
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What a beautiful and realistic depiction of grief. I really appreciated how the author didn't shy away from examining the realities of how unexpected loss can impact a family. I tend to prefer my romances a bit steamier, but I still really loved the romance in the book as well.
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A story about grief, family, and love—and how to overcome tragedy. Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships surprised me. I love bucket list stories and this one delivered, then combined it with one of my most favorite tropes, too, which is the single dad trope. Not to mention the family dynamics are amazing, especially between Jo and her nieces. Cannot wait to read more from this author.
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"If you love someone, you don't give up on them. You try."

Jo Walker has been spending the past year accomplishing a bucket list before her 30th birthday. As a yaucht stewardess who is able to travel the world (even though their clients/customers can be extremely demanding) and live at her dream home near the beach, she's been able to check off many parts of that list all while enjoying her simple life. But what happens when major tragedy strikes, and Jo's nieces surprise her at her home, stating that they are spending the summer with her? Jo has no choice but to put her list on hold, and focus on her nieces who are still mourning their major loss. But, once the nieces discover that list, Jo has no choice but to keep doing those crazy tasks that gets her out of her comfort zone. What's the biggest challenge on that list? Kiss a stranger. Cue in the cute single dad, Alex Hayes who lives in the building beside Jo. OF COURSE SPARKS ARE GOING TO FLY. But Jo has always struggled with her emotions, and with all that has been going on with her mom and sister, Jo has always had trust issues. But can she let Alex in? Read this book to find out more. ALSO, time for the regular shoutout to the best friend of the book: Nina! Nina and Jo's friendship is what we all need. Just found out Nina's getting a book of her own soon, super excited to read more of Ruiz's work!
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A feel good novel with a yacht stewardess and bucket list who gets derailed by caring for her nieces after a loss.
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This was a really good book, though I want to note I felt it was definitely more women's fiction than romance. I really liked Jo and felt invested in her journey. I will read more from this author.
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Well, this book was.... phenomenal. Sarah Grunder Ruiz has become my new favorite author.! Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships is a gem, and I cannot wait for more people to read this book and relate to the story. Few authors can weave the themes of grief, healing, and finding love so perfectly in a single book, but Sarah did that effortlessly. 5/5 stars to this beautifully-written and gem of a novel. I cannot wait to pick the 2nd book up!
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I kept waiting for the right time to read this story about grief and loss, but after losing two of my close friends this month, I don't know when that will be.  Thank you for the approval and letting me try.  I appreciate it so much and have heard wonderful things.
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Jo is dealing with the loss of her nephew when she agrees to have her two teenage nieces stay with her over the summer to give their parents some space .  Jo is a stewardess on a yacht with her best friend, Nina.  When a new chef comes onboard, sparks fly but Jo is afraid to let anyone close to her.  This is a fun lighthearted vacation read, with a few spots here you might need a tissue.  Overall, I enjoyed this romance.  Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC.
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Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships is so relatable. It’s moving, it’s healing, and the characters are real and I love them. The pace in this one was something I thoroughly enjoyed and it is one you do not want to miss out on.
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I absolutely adored this book, and it was just the warm, delightful getaway I needed during the rainy Seattle winter!

Jo Walker has been working on a very fancy yacht for the last few years. She loves her crewmates, her job (most of the time), and she’s been working her way through a 30 Before 30 bucket list. But when her sister drops her nieces on her for the summer, unexpectedly Jo has to change her travel plans and become a guardian to two kiddos.

Things don’t always go smoothly during their stay, but they do help open Jo up and get her to think about what’s really important to her. They also discover creative ways to help her cross items off her list.

A kiss with a handsome stranger (one of the list items) leads her to meet Alex…who seems destined to pop up in all areas of her life from that night forward.

I adored both of the main characters. They were real and had baggage but both grew so much over the course of the book. Over the last couple of weeks since I finished the book I find myself thinking about it and wondering what the characters might be up to, and I think that’s the sign of a great author…when a book sticks with you like that.
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I should probably start this review by admitting that I am a biased reader: Sarah was one of my first students many, many years ago. Bias aside, I can say that even as a high school junior, she had a certain spark about her communication style that promised great things to come. The fact that that spark was apparent even in AP U.S. History essays illustrates just how special her writing is and made me all the more eager to read her book, despite the fact that romance is not usually my genre of choice. With that admission out of the way, I feel confident in recommending this book to everyone I know, because it truly is a laugh-out loud romantic comedy, that doesn’t shy away from also being a more serious, and very relatable chronicle of how difficult it can be to overcome past traumas and claim the life that one deserves.

On the surface, Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships is about the journey that the main character, Jo, embarks on to reclaim her life and identity after a breakup with a narcissistic slime ball. She creates a list of thirty things to accomplish in the year before she turns thirty, such as getting a tattoo, skydiving, and sleeping in a castle. She is well on her way to completing her tasks, when tragedy strikes, and Jo is confronted by how her past traumatic experiences, relating to the loss of her father, have colored her current relationships, and world view. She begins to also see how her cynicism about love, and tendency to deflect uncomfortable feelings, impedes her from healing, or helping those she loves the most. Naturally, for literary purposes, it doesn’t hurt that her journey becomes intertwined with a man who is both extremely attractive, and unfailingly kind, that also happens to be working through some emotional conundrums of his own. What I really loved about this book, is that each character is lovingly drawn and developed, with perfectly nuanced individual plots that blend seamlessly together to form a true coming-of-age tale, that is just as applicable for sixteen-year-olds as it is for thirty-year-olds. An additional plus: the romantic tension is a slow burn, with just enough naughty moments to drive the plot, while not making me blush or feel uncomfortable (again, making it easy to recommend to just about anyone). And finally, the three teenage protagonists are a pure delight, and serve as a reminder of just how much the young people in our lives look up to us as they mold their own personalities and form viewpoints on the things that matter most

Beach couple kissing sunset | Beach pictures, Couple beach, Sunset
I sincerely hope that this will be the first of many stories that Sarah publishes; she has the potential to be the next great, young voice, in literary fiction. Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships is guaranteed to make you laugh, to make you cry, and to make you nod your head with sage agreement over the life lessons learned by Jo and her motley group of friends and family.

This book earns my heart-felt endorsement and is more than deserving of five stars.
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I absolutely adored Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships. Jo is using the summer to finish off the last of her 30 things to do before turning 30 list with the help of her eccentric and loving best friend Nina, her nieces, who show up unexpectedly, and the handsome stranger she kisses to cross off list item number five, Alex. This isn’t a light book, it deals with grief and has a lot of heavy emotion around it, but it also has a lot of really funny moments. It is a great balance and looks at the topics it tackles so thoughtfully. Jo is a wonderful protagonist. She is funny and flawed and honest, and her best friend Nina is an absolute gem! Nina is outrageous and quirky and I cannot wait for her book. Every character was so loveable! Alex was charming and I loved the friendship he and Jo grow after she kisses him and how their emotions for each other just keep growing. This reminded me some of some of How I Met Your Mother, where it had a wonderful cast and a light overall tone while also being unafraid to dive into deeper emotions too. The nieces Mia and Kitty has such great energy to the book too, and I loved the support they had in making sure Jo finished the list. The 30 before 30 was so fun too! I loved their approach to the items Jo has left. The chemistry of the characters in this book was just perfect. The banter, the actions, it all was so fluid and the writing was just lovely. This book was original and endearing! It was emotional and heartwarming and I just adored this. I left this book smiling and with my heart full.
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Books that walk the line between womens fiction and romance are normally my catnip. But this one just didn’t work for me. I found myself rushing through it and not really connecting with the characters. Definitely a very slow burn.
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found Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships to be a wonderful debut novel. Not just because of it’s fresh voice and emotional story that delivered quite the punch to the heart.

The book was a wonderful blend of women’s fiction and romance. Although the story is about the heroine’s journey of healing after losing a loved one, it’s also about a romance. A romance that delivered in every aspect. With a well done love story, fleshed out to the point that the couple’s attraction was believable and felt authentic. The romantic side of the story is rather slow burn and closed door. But the speed of Jo and Alex’s relationship felt realistic and most of all fit the story.

The side characters definitely helped the book to be as enjoyable as it was.

From Jo’s best friend Nina and her love affair with Ollie the Irish chef, which will be the focus of the author’s next book, to Jo’s nieces who spent a surprise summer with her in Florida – I liked them all. And I can only applaud the author for keeping the cast tight and manageable. It makes it so much easier to concentrate on the characters that are actually important to the story.

After working in the private sector myself for some years, I had a pretty good idea of how it must be to work as a yacht stewardess for the rich and famous. And I thought the author did a great job of including that part of the story in a realistic and well researched way.

Overall a well written and well thought through debut novel. And although the meet cute was a bit predictable with its subsequent work and living situation, the book convinced through its great cast and an emotional journey that will tug on anyone’s heartstrings.
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CW: death of loved ones, grief, anxiety, divorce, parental abandonment

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships is truly a beautiful novel. Readers should check the content warnings before starting though, because this isn't a light and fluffy romcom.

The book explores grief, forgiveness, and love in such an honest and raw way. There's a wonderful romance that develops (Hot Yacht Chef for the win!), but it's really Jo's emotional journey and healing that is the focus. I appreciated that all different kinds of love were showcased in the book - family love, romantic love, the love between friends, etc. I also liked that we got to see Jo's victories as much as her struggles. She doesn't have all the answers and she makes mistakes along the way, but it only made me root for her more. Her ride or die friendship with Nina was a definite highlight and Nina provided some much needed comic relief throughout the book. I'm very impressed that this is the author's debut and I'm already counting down the days until Ollie and Nina's story.

I both read and listened to this one and Karissa Vacker's narration was fantastic. Her performance during the more emotional scenes really packed a punch. I also thought she voiced all the different characters from teens to adults so well.

Audiobook Review
Overall 4.5 stars
Performance 5 stars
Story 4.5 stars
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I thought the book would be different from what the cover seems. I mean, I thought Jo's adventures would be on the boats where she works, but it turned out to be a very nice family story.

Jo Walker works as a stewardess on different boats, she serves quite wealthy clients, however, a tragedy happened in her life, she loses her nephew in an accident and that destroys her family.

Her character is charming, I connected with her in many aspects, although sometimes I was stressed about her decisions and thoughts. But still, I liked her. The side characters like Nina and her nieces were also refreshing to read and added a sense of humor to the story.

On the other hand, the rhythm of the plot wasn't tedious despite having long chapters and some situations can happen in real life, which is why I identify quite a lot with the story. But I don't deny that I would have liked a little more drama.

It has been a very nice story to read, quite wholesome. I recommend the book, if you want to read something like that.
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Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships is a heartwarming story about a woman named Jo Walker, who has created a 'Thirty-by-Thirty List'. It's the scary things she's afraid to do but dreams of doing by her thirtieth birthday. The story follows Jo as she tries to do as many things on the list before her birthday.

The story explores grief, family bonds, loss, and healing. The characters are realistic with their problems, and I appreciated how things weren’t always easy or clear for the characters.

I received an advanced copy of this title in exchange for my honest opinion.
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