book review,  Books

Missing Travel? 4 Books To Soothe Your Wanderlust

I love to travel because I think you learn as much about yourself as you do the place you visit. I’m longing to travel but not quite ready to venture too far with the ‘rona lurking.

Instead of packing my bags, I’ve been pouring myself a glass of wine and settling into a comfy chair in a shaded part of my patio, living vicariously through characters in books.

Today I’m sharing four books where the main characters venture abroad, and in the process, push themselves out of their comfort zones! The Little Bookshop on the Seine, Paris Is Always A Good Idea, 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and Eighty Days to Elsewhere were all light, delightful reads.

Many thanks to the publishers and NetGalley for providing eARCs for several of the books (others I purchased myself); all opinions are my own. This post contains some affiliate links that may earn me a commission if you purchase through them.

The Books

Missing Travel? 4 Books To Soothe Your WanderlustThe Little Bookshop on the Seine by Rebecca Raisin
Published by HQN Books on January 7, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Women, Romance, Contemporary
Pages: 384
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It’s The Holiday on the Champs-Élysées in a great big love letter to Paris, charming old bookstores and happily-ever-afters!

When bookshop owner Sarah Smith is offered the opportunity for a job exchange with her Parisian friend Sophie, saying yes is a no-brainer—after all, what kind of romantic would turn down six months in Paris? Sarah is sure she’s in for the experience of a lifetime—days spent surrounded by literature in a gorgeous bookshop, and the chance to watch the snow fall on the Eiffel Tower. Plus, now she can meet up with her journalist boyfriend, Ridge, when his job takes him around the globe.

But her expectations cool faster than her café au lait soon after she lands in the City of Light—she’s a fish out of water in Paris. The customers are rude, her new coworkers suspicious and her relationship with Ridge has been reduced to a long-distance game of phone tag, leaving Sarah to wonder if he’ll ever put her first over his busy career. As Christmas approaches, Sarah is determined to get the shop—and her life—back in order…and make her dreams of a Parisian happily-ever-after come true.


“Missy, my best friend, said I was completely cuckoo, and that I spent too much time alone in my shadowy shop, because I believed my books communicated with me. A soft sigh here, as they stretched their bindings when dawn broke, or a hum, as they anticipated a customer hovering close who might run a hand along their cover, tempting them to flutter their pages hello. Books were fussy when it came to their owners, and gave off a type of sound, an almost imperceptible whirr, when the right person was near. Most people weren’t aware that books chose us, at the time when we needed them.” 

The Little Bookshop on the Seine was a lighthearted book and an easy read. I found it light on the romance (because Sarah’s globe-traveling fiancé is mostly present in her thoughts, but not in person in the book.)

Instead of a home swap like in the movie The Holiday, Sarah and Parisian bookshop manager Sophie swap bookshops. (Unlike the Holiday, we see how it all unfolds from Sarah’s perspective only.) Unfortunately, it’s not the glorious Paris escape that Sarah expects it to be. She experiences an overwhelming amount of trials, frustrations, and culture clashes. Running the bookstore is a much bigger endeavor than her small town bookshop. Dorothy isn’t in Kansas anymore, and the residents of Emerald City walk all over her sweet demeanor.

I honestly felt frustrated for Sarah, even though everything she dealt with felt realistic. Through it all, she manages to to experience a little of Parisian life, and in the end grows and is transformed inside and out. Rebecca Raisin has created interesting characters and lovely scenes. As it’s labeled a romance, I expected the romantic storyline to go in a different direction. This book is part of a series. I haven’t read The Little Bookshop on the Corner, and I don’t think you need to have read it first to appreciate The Little Bookshop on the Seine. However, doing so might have filled in a few holes of how their relationship even came to be.

Missing Travel? 4 Books To Soothe Your WanderlustParis Is Always a Good Idea by Jenn McKinlay
Published by Penguin Publishing Group on July 21, 2020
Genres: Romantic Comedy, Women
Pages: 352
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A thirty-year-old woman retraces her gap year through Ireland, France, and Italy to find love--and herself--in this hilarious and heartfelt novel.
It's been seven years since Chelsea Martin embarked on her yearlong postcollege European adventure. Since then, she's lost her mother to cancer and watched her sister marry twice, while Chelsea's thrown herself into work, becoming one of the most talented fundraisers for the American Cancer Coalition, and with the exception of one annoyingly competent coworker, Jason Knightley, her status as most successful moneymaker is unquestioned.
When her introverted mathematician father announces he's getting remarried, Chelsea is forced to acknowledge that her life stopped after her mother died and that the last time she can remember being happy, in love, or enjoying her life was on her year abroad. Inspired to retrace her steps--to find Colin in Ireland, Jean Claude in France, and Marcelino in Italy--Chelsea hopes that one of these three men who stole her heart so many years ago can help her find it again.
From the start of her journey nothing goes as planned, but as Chelsea reconnects with her old self, she also finds love in the very last place she expected.


I really enjoyed Paris is Always a Good Idea. Initially, I didn’t like Chelsea, our main character, all that much. She’s driven and serious (in a stick-up-her-butt kind of way). Yes, she’s really dedicated, but she feels hard and closed off.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one who feels the same, as her dad, sister, and co-worker Jason, indirectly (basically her polar opposite and arch-nemesis) call her out on it and the fact that she shut herself off to fun and commitment. And what I loved about her character (and the plot) is that she took a step back, did some fast, deep soul-searching – and owned it. In what seems very out of character for current Chelsea, she quickly decides to find the carefree girl on a gap year she used to be before she was called home due to her mom falling ill. That 180º turn gives us a bit of foresight into the girl she was – and how she’ll tackle her crazy plan to revisit the three great loves she met and left in that gap year.

Of course, this means leaving her in the hands of Jason, and they are totally oil and water. Yup, this is an enemy to lovers story, and I am here for it.

Chelsea’s adventures in Ireland, Paris, and Italy are fun and offered some laugh out loud moments. I equally enjoyed the real emotional connection that develops between Chelsea and Jason. Can we ever go back to who we were, or can we at least reclaim a bit of who we were in the past? It’s a great question, and I really enjoyed following along as Chelsea answers it for herself.

Missing Travel? 4 Books To Soothe Your Wanderlust13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson
Published by Harper Collins on October 6, 2009
Genres: Young Adult Fiction
Pages: 368
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New York Times bestselling author Maureen Johnson’s funny, heartbreaking, and utterly romantic tale gets a great new cover!
Ginny Blackstone never thought she’d spend her summer vacation backpacking across Europe. But that was before she received the first little blue envelope from Aunt Peg.
This letter was different from Peg’s usual letters for two reasons:
1. Peg had been dead for three months.
2. The letter included $1000 cash for a passport and a plane ticket.
Armed with instructions for how to retrieve twelve other letters Peg wrote—twelve letters that tell Ginny where she needs to go and what she needs to do when she gets there—Ginny quickly finds herself swept away in her first real adventure. Traveling from London to Edinburgh to Amsterdam and beyond, Ginny begins to uncover stories from her aunt’s past and discover who Peg really was. But the most surprising thing Ginny learns isn’t about Peg . . . it’s about herself.
Everything about Ginny will change this summer, and it’s all because of the 13 little blue envelopes.
Look for the sequel, The Last Little Blue Envelope!


13 Little Blue Envelopes has been on my TBR list for far too long. As I was on a roll with travel-themed books, it seemed the perfect time to finally read it. If you are looking for a light, entertaining read, and (most importantly) you can suspend your disbelief in a few areas (in an “it’s fiction, just go with it” kind of way), this is a fast-paced, entertaining book.

First off, I loved the premise of this book. (Although, admittedly, I’d overlooked a crucial detail – the age of the protagonist.) 17-year-old Ginny receives a letter from a beloved, deceased aunt who has been living abroad, and who has been out of touch with the family. The envelope has barely enough cash for a plane ticket, and directions to pick up a packet from her former apartment. With the money and directions is a quest for Ginny, which she agrees to. But the quest has rules:

“Rule #1: You may bring only what fits in your backpack. Don’t try to fake it with a purse or a carry-on.

Rule #2: You may not bring guidebooks, phrase books, or any kind of foreign language aid. And no journals.

Rule #3: You cannot bring extra money or credit/debit cards, travelers’ checks, etc. I’ll take care of all that.

Rule #4: No electronic crutches. This means no laptop, no cell phone, no music, and no camera. You can’t call home or communicate with people in the U.S. by Internet or telephone. Postcards and letters are acceptable and encouraged.

That’s all you need to know for now. ”

Um, ok. As a grown-ass adult, I wouldn’t consider traveling abroad without some form of emergency funds (hidden credit card) or a phone in case of emergency.* To send a soon-to-be high school senior? My first response was “what parent does this?” as Ginny is not particularly worldly, either. You will need to ignore her naiveté and some of the irresponsible situations she puts herself in because of it.

From a travel perspective, she has some incredible adventures. As Ginny follows the instructions in the letters, she visits some interesting places, traveling to Scotland, Greece, France, Denmark, and Italy to name a few. The author does an excellent job with setting. However, I wish there had been a bit more character development for Ginny, as this is a sort of coming of age story. As she travels, we get to know more about the mysterious Aunt Peg, but we don’t learn as much about Ginny as I would have liked to. (Including “where are your parents?”)

*Ok, I get it, this is a YA adventure. Back off, Mom.

Overall, this was a fun, escapist read. Set your disbelief aside and just enjoy the trip.

Missing Travel? 4 Books To Soothe Your WanderlustEighty Days to Elsewhere by kc dyer
Published by Penguin on August 11, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romantic Comedy
Pages: 480
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"The Amazing Race" meets Around the World in 80 Days as a woman desperate to save her family bookstore falls for her competition.
Born and raised in New York City, Ramona Keene dreams of attending photography school and traveling to Paris, but her reality never quite catches up with her imagination. Instead, she works at her uncles' quaint bookstore, where the tea is plentiful and all the adventures are between the covers of secondhand books. But when the new landlord arrives with his Evil Nephew in tow, Romy's quiet life comes crashing down. He plans to triple the rent, something her uncles can't afford.
In order to earn the money to help save the bookstore, Romy applies for a job at ExLibris Expeditions, a company that re-creates literary journeys. Romy snags the oddest internship ever: retrace Phileas Fogg's journey from Jules Verne's Around the World in 80 Days and plan a suitable, contemporary adventure for a client. The task is close to impossible; sticking to the original route means no commercial aircraft permitted, and she's got a lot less than eighty days to work with. Shaking off her fear of leaving home, Romy takes on the challenge, only to discover she's got competition. Worse, Dominic Madison turns out to be the - unfortunately hot - nephew of her family's worst enemy.
Can Romy win the race and circle the globe in time to save the bookstore? And what happens when she starts to fall for the very person who may just be the death of her dreams?


Eighty Days to Elsewhere is the ultimate road trip book and a fun, fast read that combines two of my favorite things – books and travel.

The comps for this novel were Around the World in Eighty Days meets “Amazing Race”. If you’re familiar with this reality show, you know the pace the travelers are on, and how little time is spent in each location, so that should set expectations about her travel experience. This is no slow stroll through Paris! (Her Paris adventure was anything but what she had planned…) I love the idea, too, of a literary trip that follows the path of Verne’s Around the World in Eighty Days, and to attempt it in a short amount of time is the perfect setup for chaos.

Add the fast pace to Romy’s complete lack of travel experience and the sheltered life she’s led, and you’ve got the perfect set-up for some hilarious and/or unfortunate disasters. She’s awkward, she’s definitely not very worldly, and she undergoes a lot of personal growth in the book. There are a few details that come out late in the book which might have actually explained a lot about both Romy and Dominic (no spoilers).

I think Eighty Days to Elsewhere is perfect for literary lovers who are currently experiencing wanderlust.

I’m SOOOO behind on reviews I want to share, it’s almost embarrassing. The feelings of isolation relating to the Covid pandemic have me reading, reading, reading. When I finish reading, I find myself struggling to put two words together coherently to tell you how much I love the book.

So thanks for checking out this post. Hopefully I managed more than a few words together coherently to express why I loved these so much!

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