Back to Britain // Books Abroad

Kelly and I returned from our trip to England at the beginning of April, and I've been meaning to write a series of recaps ever since. Where did the past two months go?! The week went by so quickly – it felt like we'd just arrived when it was time to head back home. If you were following my blog last year, you may remember that Kelly and I recapped 2018's trip with a series of three posts. I decided to do it again this year, even though it's so late.

For today's post, I'm reviewing the six books I read while I was abroad. Check back tomorrow for photos and highlights from my trip. And on Friday, I'll have a little update on what I'm reading and doing back at home. Keep reading if you're curious about what books I brought with me – and what I bought while I was there!

Usually, I spend forever debating what books to pack for vacation. But my experience on last year's trip made this a no-brainer! When traveling internationally, Kelly's personal rule of thumb is one physical book + your Kindle. That's it. And she always suggests making the physical book a favorite that you've been hoping to re-read. It's your backup – there if your Kindle happens to die or you're just in need of something familiar and comforting after a long day of adventuring. But since you'll likely buy books while abroad, which we did, limit yourself to a digital TBR!

Last year, I didn't get very much reading done until I was on the way home. I finished a few more books this time, and I'm so excited to talk about all of them! Four of the six were books that I read early for review, and I'd intended to write this when I got home but hold off on posting until closer to their publication. And then, of course, I used that as an excuse to procrastinate writing it. Struggle. But let's finally dive in:

THE FLATSHARE BY BETH O'LEARY* – From the moment I heard about this book, I knew I had to read it. I was so excited to get an early copy for review, and I saved it to read on my flight to England. It's set in London, so it was the perfect book to kick off my trip. Tiffy and Leon share an apartment, but they've never met. They work opposite schedules, but exchanging notes every day leads to an unexpected friendship. I AM SO HERE FOR FALLING IN LOVE VIA POST-IT NOTES. Tiffy and Leon each have their own POV, and Leon's is a little weird at first. Tiffy's is written the way you'd expect, but Leon's has a different cadence and format. It took a few chapters for me to get used to, but I'm glad I stuck with it! It ended up feeling so right for the character, and now I can't imagine it being written any other way. I hate when multiple POVs sound the same, so I was very pleased with how it was done in this book. The premise sounded comedic, so I went in expecting a mostly light-hearted vibe. And while it was definitely humorous, there's so much more to it. It deals with some emotional subject matter and that made me love it more. It's just so cute and will make you smile... while also making you cry a little bit, too. I'm So Obsessed With It.

THE AUSTEN PLAYBOOK BY LUCY PARKER* – On last year's flight home, I read my first Lucy Parker, Act Like It. Then, I immediately read the next two and loved them enough to re-read all three in January. So yes, I'm so obsessed with. I just love Parker's writing, characters, romances, humor, drama – all of it! I couldn't wait to read this release, especially because the Austen connection is right up my alley. And I wasn't disappointed! The vibe is a little different from the previous books because it involves a live-action TV event at a country estate. I loved the change in setting because it led to some of my favorite scenes, like a fun take on the "bad weather has us stranded here together" trope. There's also more to the plot because you've got the TV event, some family drama, and a mystery surrounding a famous play. But it all worked for me! The hero and heroine have some negative history, but I wouldn't call it hate-to-love. It reminded me of Pride and Prejudice – from "not handsome enough to tempt me" to "hey girl, let me admire those fine eyes" in a quick second. The couple's attraction and connection is pretty instant, and I usually need more more development in my romances. But for whatever reason, I still So Loved It

THE UNHONEYMOONERS BY CHRISTINA LAUREN* – I started this book on the train to Paris and had read 85% by the time we'd pulled into the station. I was mad I had to stop! I’ve read a lot from this genre, and this story just has that certain je ne sais quoi that sets it apart. Perhaps it was the laugh-out-loud dialogue and awkward situations, the tropical setting that had me longing for summer, the complex sibling relationships that felt so real, how Olive & Ethan both experienced so much personal growth, or the presence of two of my FAVORITE tropes (hate-to-love and fake dating). Whatever it was, I’m HERE FOR IT! It’s a delightful rom com, but there are some deeper themes that I loved discussing with Kelly once she’d read it, too. The story does take a more serious turn near the end, but I loved how it grounded the story in reality. You can spend a practically perfect week in paradise, but you’re still going to have to come back to the mess you left at home. And that was one of the most emotional aspects of the story for me! The Unhoneymooners is my new favorite Christina Lauren book, and I’m already planning on re-reading it soon. Toss this one in your beach bag this summer — you won’t regret it! I'm So Obsessed With It.

DON'T YOU FORGET ABOUT ME BY MHAIRI MCFARLANE – This was the first of three books that I read on my flight home, and it was my favorite book I read all week! I bought this on our first day in London because it isn't out in the US until later this year. I thought about reading it while traveling but decided to save it, which is fitting since I re-read McFarlane's It's Not Me, It's You on last year's flight. It was the perfect book to close out this trip! McFarlane’s humor shines as always, and I loved this story so much. The romance made me swoon (with one of the best romantic declaration speeches I’ve ever read), even though it's more of a secondary storyline. This is a second-chance romance, and I love that trope when it's done well. McFarlane nails it! But more than anything else, I loved the heroine’s journey and bravery. It even made me cry... in public. That’s rare for me! The heroine just grows so much, and I was rooting for her the entire time I was reading. The story felt very relevant and timely to things that have been in the news lately, and I felt like it was handled with sensitivity. Her books are filled with so much heart, and this is easily a new favorite for me. I'm not sure it tops Who's That Girl, but I'm still So Obsessed With It.

THE BRIDE TEST BY HELEN HOANG* – Last year, I read Hoang's much-hyped debut, The Kiss Quotient. Though it was way too steamy for me, I enjoyed it overall. When I read that the Michael's cousin Khai, was getting his own book, I couldn't wait to read it. He thinks he's defective and has no feelings, but his family knows he just processes things differently. It's always kept him from pursuing a romantic relationship, so his meddling mom returns to Vietnam to find him a bride. The bride, Esme, has her own complicated reasons for giving an arranged marriage a try, and I really felt for her. The couple slowly won me over, and I was charmed by them in the end. Though it wasn't quite as steamy as TKQ, it's still too much for my taste. But I knew to expect that and just moved right on. The heart of the story was wonderful! I was annoyed by one thing that was kept secret for too long (and had an anticlimactic reveal), but it was a fun read overall. I liked seeing how Khai's autism manifested itself and loved Esme's journey as an immigrant. Hoang's letter at the end of the book made Esme's story even more meaningful, and I'm so glad it was included. I'm happy to say that I So Enjoyed It and am looking forward to Quan's book.

ARTISTIC LICENSE BY ELLE PIERSON – I randomly saw Lucy Parker tweeting about this book one day and realized that she'd written it! I had no idea that she had another pen name, but I obviously had to download this right away. I hadn't planned to read it on my trip, but at 178 pages it seemed like the perfect opportunity to squeeze in one last book on my flight home. The beginning chapters were a little awkward, and I almost set it down. But I continued on and became more invested as the story evened out. Unlike Parker's London Celebrities series, this one was set in New Zealand. That was a fun change of locale! It reminded me of her other series with the slow-burn romance and engaging dialogue. I really liked the dynamic between the hero and heroine – the tough, intimidating guy and the artistic introvert. Both are misunderstood in their own ways and have some emotional baggage to deal with because of it. That seemed realistic to me! I could see some of the things I love about Parker's writing and characters in her series, but it was also evident this is some of her early work. The pacing was a little uneven, and I think there were two aspects of the plot that felt unnecessary / undeveloped. But overall, I So Liked It.

Finally, if you're curious, here's everything I bought while abroad:

I've linked to all the books in my March and April recaps, and I'm too lazy to do it again here. But thank goodness for my carry-on backpack that miraculously held all of these books! It was heavy, but everything made it home safe and sound. I just keep adding stuff to my Book Depository cart and wishing I had a Waterstone's down the road.

How do you choose what to read on vacation?


  1. I can't wait to re-read The Unhoneymooners, too! Same with Daisy Jones. As always, thanks for all the great suggestions!

  2. I follow the same rule for trips! Depending on the space in my bag I may not even bring a physical copy. I tend to take a lot of shorter, domestic trips though, so my Kindle does the trick!

  3. Your haul from your trip is still epic! As for reading while I travel, I should probably learn to follow Kelly's rule about bringing one physical book and my Kindle. I always overpack when it comes to bringing books to read with me, and sometimes, that works out and sometimes, it doesn't :p

    I liked The Flatshare a lot too! I had pretty high hopes for it going in, and I thought it was a well-written and very readable story.


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