In true me fashion, I:
- Forgot that I needed to write book reviews as I finished reading.
- Forgot that I had a blog.
Whoops. Without further ado, here’s what I read in January.
Verity by Colleen Hoover–thriller–published 2018–324 pages–four stars: Lowen (asks herself, what kind of name is Lowen?), an author facing apartment eviction, is shocked when she’s offered half a million dollars to finish writing a book series that the original author, Verity (asks herself, what kind of name is Verity?), cannot complete because a terrible accident has left her incapacitated. Even though she’s reluctant to accept, Lowen caves when Verity’s handsome husband, Jeremy (tells herself, look a common name!), convinces her to take the job. Lowen stays at Jeremy and Verity’s house to go through Verity’s research and notes, stumbling across Verity’s unpublished autobiography in the process. What she discovers within the manuscript leaves Lowen with more questions than answers and a growing suspicion that nobody is safe in the house. I totally understand the hype now. The autobiography snippets included in the book are disturbing and engrossing instead of falling flat like a lot of books within books do. I couldn’t handle the two main characters’ names though. I kept asking myself: Lowen? Lowen? Was Highen considered? And Verity? Obviously, there’s some kind of symbolism or irony there–but the rest of the book wasn’t very nuanced with any obvious major literary devices. I was expecting my mind to be blown at the end because BookTok decreed it, and while it was an unconventional twist, it didn’t leave my head spinning. I also thought the whole it’s-perfectly-normal-for-a-wealthy-person-who-has-a-small-child-to-invite-a-stranger-to-stay-at-his-house-while-his-wife-is-immobile-upstairs plot device was a stretch.
The Simple Wild (Wild #1) by K.A. Tucker–romance–published 2018–390 pages–three stars: A Toronto woman flies to Bangor, Alaska, to reconnect with her estranged father and falls in love with one of her father’s pilots. Another BookTok book? Yep. But one set in Alaska? How could I say no? I have a soft spot for romances set in Alaska. Blame it on The Great Alone and Kristin Hannah. This is a perfectly acceptable romance that’s not overly spicy, featuring an enemy-to-lovers trope, small airplanes, and the standard this-book-is-set-in-Alaska-so-there’s-a-wild-animal-that-is-more-like-a-pet. You know I’ve got to say it–it’s sixty pages too long. While I did enjoy this book, I won’t be continuing the series. Book two clocks in at over 470 pages.
The Holiday Switch by Tif Marcelo–YA romance–published 2021–272 pages–two stars: I might be judging this book a little harshly, but it’s just so snowflake-shaped-marshmallows-floating-in-hot-chocolate fluffy. Picture it: an inn that’s been featured in a popular movie, now a tourist attraction. Lila, a senior on her way to Syracuse with a secret blog who works in the gift shop. Teddy, the innkeeper’s nephew who attends Syracuse with his own secret who shows up to work the holidays. Cute, niche shops in a small town of 14,000. Writing sprinkled with holiday-themed metaphors. If you like Hallmark Channel Christmas movies, you’ll probably like this book. But I thought So, This Is Christmas, another YA holiday romance, was marginally better than this. Both books also have eerily similar plot lines and settings as well.
21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari–nonfiction–published 2018–372 pages–four stars: Equal parts fascinating and frightening. It’s too bad this book was published before the pandemic; I’d love to see an updated version with a new foreword that addressed Harari’s thoughts about COVID’s global impact.
Open Book by Jessica Simpson and Kevin Carr O’Leary–memoir–published 2020–416 pages–four stars: This was the perfect book to listen to as I worked on a 1,000 piece Harry Potter puzzle that Little Thing got for Christmas and abandoned quickly after sorting out the border pieces. Who knew John Mayer was such a gaslighter? I sobbed with Jessica as she relayed the story of her cousin’s death. Jessica mesmerized me with her dishy tales about celebrities, her strength, her honesty. Listening to the audiobook made this book work for me. I don’t know if I’d feel the same way about the book if I hadn’t heard her narrate it.
Tokyo Ever After (Tokyo Ever After #1) by Emiko Jean–YA romance–published 2021–336 pages–three stars: Izumi lives in Mount Shasta, California, with her mom and wonders about the father she’s never met. Turns out Izumi’s dad is the crown prince of Japan, and he doesn’t know that she exists until she reaches out to one of his old friends once her mom fesses up to Izumi’s royal lineage. A very predictable trip to Tokyo to meet her father ensues, replete with evil twin cousins, and a SNACK of a bodyguard who just so happens to be her age. If you’re thinking an enemies-to-lovers trope is ahead, you’re right. Don’t get me wrong, the writing is fresh and cute, but this The Princess Diaries and The Bodyguard mashup plotline just didn’t do it for me.
Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes–nonfiction–published 2016–352 pages–four stars: Rhimes shines in this book. I felt empowered at the end and overwhelmed by her talent. The only thing I dislike about this is she includes at least three separate speeches that she gave in the past, and in the audiobook, it includes the original audio of those speeches, and to me, it kind of felt like filler in an otherwise awesome book. The speeches are funny, insightful, and well-written, but just out of place.
Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon–romance–published 2022–352 pages–four stars: And this was the point in the month where I lost track of writing reviews as I finished each book. So what do I remember? Weather girl falls for the sports guy. Sports guy has a theater-kid daughter and he’s super overprotective. He’s also not your standard, chiseled romantic lead but has a dad-bod. This read was cute enough, and I liked it more than Solomon’s The Ex Talk.
You’ve Reached Sam by Dustin Thao–YA romance–published 2021–304 pages–three stars: After Julie’s boyfriend Sam dies, she can still call him and talk to him. Y’all. This book was so repetitive with the whole “why did this have to happen?” conversation back and forth. I found this really boring.
Bibliolepsy by Gina Apostol–literary fiction–published 2022–2016 pages–three stars: I had no idea what was happening in this novel and had to look up what every other word meant.
Down Among the Sticks and Bones (Wayward Children #2) by Seanan McGuire–YA fantasy–published 2017–187 pages–four stars: Yes. 1,000 times yes. In book two, McGuire gives the story of twins Jack and Jill before they make it to the Home for Wayward Children. Absolutely stunning and I liked this more than book one.
Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick–memoir–published 2016–275 pages–four stars: I’ve had my eyes on this autobiography for years, but my library didn’t have a copy. And finally, I was able to find it as an audiobook through the Libby app. I had no idea Kendrick was a child Broadway star. Kendrick’s pretty darn funny too, which I wasn’t expecting. Also, I kind of love that she and Bill Hader are now dating. That seems like a pretty good match.
Brown Girls by Daphne Palasi Andreades–contemporary fiction–published 2022–224 pages–three stars: Took place over too long of a time frame for such a short book. I thought the collective point of view was a bit confusing as well.
Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur–poetry–published 2014–204 pages–four stars: Beautiful and raw. I’m not sure why I put this one off for so long.
And here are allllllllllllllllllllll the books I DNF’d in January: