Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz
Review,  Contemporary,  Romance

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships is entertaining, refreshing, heartwarming and emotive chick-lit about journey to healing and finding happiness, hope, and love again.

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships by Sarah Grunder Ruiz

Publication Date : November 23, 2021

Publisher : Berkley Books

Read Date : August 17, 2022

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Tea for this book : Indian Masala Chai + Menthol Tea

Disclaimer – Many thanks to PRH international for eARC via NetGalley.
This post contains affiliate links.


Sometimes a yacht, a bold bucket list, and a kiss with a handsome stranger are all a person needs to dive into the deep end of life.

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 birthday. Jo has almost everything she’s ever wanted, including a condo on the beach (though she’s the youngest resident by thirty years) and an exciting job (albeit below deck) that lets her travel the world.

Jo is on track until a family tragedy 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.

Review of Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships

Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships is refreshing, entertaining and touching Chick-Lit that revolves around Jo Walker’s journey to finish her bucket list before her 30th birthday and healing from the loss. The story is about family, friendship, love, dealing with loss, grief, and guilt, and letting others in.

Writing is entertaining, gripping, and emotive with first person narrative from Jo’s perspective. Plot is interesting. It is divided in three parts with three months of the summer. It was interesting to read the character introduction and Jo’s 30 by 30 bucket list and story behind it, what made her create the list, and what was the purpose. The arrival of her meddling nieces, a stranger whom she kissed for bucket list turned out to be her neighbor and new chef on the yacht- Alex, finishing the last seven items on the bucket list, and dealing with loss and grief brings lots of adventure, fun, lovely and emotive moments. The characters are the best part of the book.

It was easy to root Jo. It was touching to read her struggle as teen after her father’s death and how her elder sister supported her, and now dealing with her nephew’s death. She has gone through a lot in life and past shitty relationship chipped away her confidence and control over life. No wonder she wasn’t ready for a relationship or romance yet but I loved how bucket list brought back what she was missing and needed in life. It was great to know her more during the story and how summer with her nieces and Alex helped her not only with bucket list but also dealing with grief, loss and getting over fear of being left behind.

I loved Jo’s job as a stewardess on yacht. I liked her story of how she got the job and how she met her best friend, Nina, who is the chief stewardess on the same yacht. Nina is fun, fierce and loyal friend. I loved her quirky habits and dressing style. She made the story more entertaining. I can’t wait to read her story in next book.

Jo’s bond with her two nieces was lovely, touching and heartwarming. We also know her nephew through her memory who was her favorite and she shared not only her birthday but also special bond with him. She was just an aunt but loved them like a second mother. I could understand how she might have felt being a supportive sister and aunt and getting not enough chance or reason to mourn.

I loved mischievous and meddling Mia and Kitty. Mia was typical angry 16 yr old teen while Kitty is a lovely and nerdy 13 yr old kid. I loved how Jo tried to make their summer fun, distracting from their parents’ breaking marriage and grief of losing their brother. Alex’s daughter Greyson is energetic chatty and lovely kid who also brought brightness to story.

Alex is easy going, charming, and lovely Michelin star chef. He too was burnt by past relationship with Greyson’s mother. I loved how meeting with Jo made him want to change that not-dating status but I totally agree with Jo, he sent very confusing signals. I loved him for supporting and understanding Jo and the way he raised his daughter. He was best dad I ever read in books but he wasn’t perfect. He wanted to make everything his daughter’s life perfect but in process, he took decisions on her behalf and she wasn’t happy about all the sacrifices he made for it. I enjoyed the conversations on that topic.

Both main characters with their own issue, the involvement of three teenagers and emotions ensued deep and thoughtful conversations and I loved how author has written all the important conversations with so much feeling and love.

Romance is slow burning with Alex’s confusing signals but I loved the banter, sparkling sexual tension, and those cooking scenes that felt sexy without involving sex. I liked how they both kept the drama for teens in their life and handled their romance issues as understanding and responsible adults.

Most of the plot is predictable but the surprise came with the bucket list items. I loved how the characters didn’t stick to the words of the list and found another way to finish the items which made it more fun and exciting.

Climax is touching and emotive. Jo was right to scold her nieces for what they did but I still felt sad for them and even more after knowing why Mia felt guilty. I loved how Jo realized she should have talked to her nieces about their brother than distracting them with other activities and how not talking about him was driving them away. I loved how things turned out in the end, not everything is a happy ending but there is warmth of love and family that lifted the spirit and mood.

why 4 star-

A little predictable but I guess that wasn’t major point. There wasn’t anything wrong with this, it’s just I picked this book at wrong time and so didn’t feel wow.

Overall, Love, Lists, and Fancy Ships refreshing, fun, commendable debut novel with equal parts of family, friendship, romance, entertainment, and sentiments.

I recommend this if you like,
Bucket lists
Theme of grief and loss
Slow burning romance
Realistic and relatable characters
Story about healing
Teen drama
Characters work on yacht
Fun and emotive story
Story that takes place during Summer

Book Links

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Hi, I'm Yesha, an Indian book blogger. Avid and eclectic reader who loves to read with a cup of tea. Not born reader but I don't think I’m going to stop reading books in this life. “You can never get a cup of tea large enough or a book long enough to suit me.”


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