My monthly wrap-up — April 2021

Hi, friends! April really got away from me — I posted here way less than I like to, which was a bit disappointing on a personal note. But when I looked back at why, I realized it was because April was so full of wonderful things. My family had a big Easter celebration with our first pool day of the season, and then celebrated my niece’s third birthday the following weekend. Two weekends ago I went to Toledo, Ohio, to visit some friends I hadn’t seen in ages (two of them I hadn’t seen in over two years!). And last weekend, my husband and I went to the North Georgia Mountains for a family reunion — last time we saw them was in January 2020, before we hit quarantine. And in the midst of all of that, I still managed to squeeze in 14 books, which is an all-time record for me, and received my second COVID vaccine — as of today, I’m fully inoculated, which is a great feeling. So while I took a break from blogging, I had so many wonderful things to fill my time with 🙂

Here are the books I got to read this month. There were some great ones, good ones, and also my least favorite read of this year (and maybe ever!). In order, I read:

The Babysitter by Liza Rodman and Jennifer Jordan. Thank you to Atria and Mystery Book Club (courtesy of Jordy’s Book Club and Boston Book Fanatic on IG) for the free finished copy and the chance to participate in MBC. This is a thrilling, slow burn memoir about a woman who discovers later in life that her kind childhood babysitter was one of the most prolific serial killers of the 60s.

Boy Erased by Garrard Conley. I got to read this memoir with one of my book clubs. It tells the heartbreaking story of Conley being outed to his family and his time at a church-sponsored conversion therapy program.

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. I read this one through the recommendation of one of my closest friends, Lauren, in anticipation of the upcoming Netflix series based on the series! I absolutely loved the book, and — no surprise — think it’s better than the show!

The Last Exiles by Ann Shin. Thank you to NetGalley and Park Row Books for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review. This was a heartbreaking tale of a young couple living in North Korea who become separated and go against all odds to be reunited. It’s a sad tale but still full of a sense of hope that really resonated with me. Full review to come.

Anna K Away by Jenny Lee. Thanks to NetGalley and Flatiron Books for providing a free eARC — as you may know, Anna K was one of my favorite novels of 2020, so I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. This one sucked me in just as much, and while I thought it lacked some of the charm of the first book, it still was a great read that really explored how teenagers deal with grief and heartbreak.

We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A. E. Osworth. Thank you to Grand Central Pub and Novel Suspects for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review. I posted my full review of this one on its pub day, which you can view here. But this was a hell of a debut that covered misogyny and gender violence in the gaming industry, based on the real-life Gamergate. I highly recommend to those who love suspenseful novels and interesting and unreliable narrators.

The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. This was my first ever comic series that I read! I adore Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, so no surprise I loved the follow up story.

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala. This was a fun, easy read that totally flipped how I view the genre “cozy mystery,” bringing with it excellent representation and diversity, while still providing a more lighthearted take on the usual darker or gruesome mysteries/thrillers I tend to go for. I look forward to more in this collection! I’ll be posting a full review soon.

The Beautiful Ones by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. Thank you to NetGalley and Tor Books for the free eARC — I love SMG and honestly will read anything she writes. This one felt like I was reading a Jane Austen book, but with an added element of telekinesis and magic. I’ll be writing a full review soon!

The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. After reading the first set, I couldn’t wait too long to read this one! The story was equally as great with gorgeous illustrations.

Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalola. I’m currently working on writing up this review, but it’s so hard because there’s SO many good things to say about it! Usually with a short story collection,, I struggle to connect with at least a few of the stories. All of these were great and stunningly beautiful.

The Maidens by Alex Michaelides. Thank you to Celadon (partner) for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review. I have lots of thoughts on this one, but I am truly struggling to organize them into something coherent! I read this book so quickly, but there are some parts that just felt… off for me? Especially compared to his first one. At some point, I hope to get a review up when I can figure out my thoughts more.

Such a Fun Age by Kiley Reid. This was my first audiobook I checked out this year! I listened to it on my drive to and from Toledo and was so impressed. It’s definitely a character-focused book and I loved how nuanced each character was while addressing some difficult topics revolving around race, privilege, and more.

The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes. And this, sadly, ended my month on a low point. This is by far my least favorite book of the year, and maybe one of my least favorites ever. It just didn’t do it for me. It was for a book club, so it was good to discuss with friends, but this definitely won’t be one I’ll recommend or revisit in the future.

What books did you get to in April? Any standouts or ones that fell flat? Let me know in the comments or on IG!

Gamergate revisited: Pub day review of We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A. E. Osworth

A copy of We Are Watching Eliza Bright by A. E. Osworth. It is purple, pink, and blue with bright yellow print. Books are pointing to it from the top righthand corner.

Happy pub day to We Are Watching Eliza Bright, A. E. Osworth’s debut novel — and this was one a WILD ride! A huge thank you to Novel Suspects and Grand Central Publishing for this gifted ARC in exchange for an honest review. I devoured this techno-thriller in just about two days and loved so much about it.

Quick synopsis: From the back cover — “Eliza Bright is living the dream as an elite game coder at Fancy Dog Games, the first woman to ascend that high in the ranks–and some people want to make sure she’s the last. To her friends, Eliza Bright is a brilliant, self-taught coder bravely calling out the misogyny that pervades her workplace and industry. To the men who see her very presence as a threat, Eliza Bright is a woman who needs to be destroyed to protect the game they love.”

Now, a quick disclaimer: I am not a gamer by any means, unless you want to count Animal Crossing and Pokemon on my Nintendo Switch. So for readers in my boat, I did find that there was a bit of a learning curve when it came to getting used to the different gaming terminology in the world of massive multiplayer online role playing games (MMORPGs). But once I got used to it, I tore through this “cat-and-mouse” thriller. So definitely don’t let that discourage you at all!

CW for the book: sexual assault, harassment, rape, misogyny, stalking

In their debut novel, Osworth has crafted what I consider to be a sharp, gritty, and suspenseful thriller that flows nearly seamlessly between Eliza’s real-life nightmare that she finds herself in after reporting the workplace harassment she faces to a tech journalist, and the virtual world full of the men who view her as a threat to be taken down. Those men take up 4chan, Reddit, and the dark places of the internet that I can only imagine. What I found most intriguing about this book however was the unreliability of the narration — told from the collective POV of the online community of men constantly watching Eliza and waiting to strike. As a woman, it was honestly terrifying to hear the prejudice and often deep hatred toward Eliza (and women in general). But as a reader, it was a hell of an experience, allowing me to really zoom in on Eliza’s life, almost as if I were her stalkers. Creepy to say the least, but such a unique read.

Additionally, I loved how the book moved in and out between the real world and the Fancy Dog MMORPG itself, which is based around the fictional Windy City full of superheroes and villains. Sections surrounding the game almost felt as if I was reading fantasy, but the fact that they only mirror what is happening in real life makes it much more unsettling, especially for those who consider their game worth fighting for to the farthest extent.

This book had several twists and turns that were entertaining on the surface, but also made way for excellent commentary on the misogyny that pervades the gaming industry. It seemed very similar to (and I think may have been inspired by) the real-life events of Gamergate several years back. We Are Watching Eliza Bright made for a shocking story that seemed so far from anything that could actually happen, until you think about Gamergate and realize it could. It was unsettling to read as a woman, but also really cool to watch Eliza and her friends rise to face what seems like an impossible challenge.

I’d recommend this read for those who like thrillers, suspense, social commentary, LGBTQ+ and diverse representation, feminist-powered reads, urban settings, or gaming.

My monthly wrap-up — March 2021

A stack of books that I read in March sit next to a fish tank with my betta fish Reggie.

I’m a day late on my March wrap-up post AND it just snowed for the first time in a month — so that’s the April Fools Day joke, right?? But living in the Midwest, you just have to accept that Fake Spring is a real thing and you’ll inevitably get that last snow sometime in late March or even April. Hopefully it’s the last one of the season, however!

On a reading note, this month was a great month for me. Typically, I read around eight books, but this month I got through a whopping 11 books! There were many awesome reads, some of which I’ve already reviewed, some of which are to come. I’ve probably spent just a little too much time reading and not enough keeping up with reviews on here and Instagram. But I promise — they’re coming soon!!

Here are the books, in order, that I got the chance to read this month, plus a short summary. Also, check out my new Betta fish, Reggie! Sadly, Barry passed away (may he RIP) after nearly two years. But we’re excited to welcome Reggie to the family!

Watch Her by Edwin Hill. This suspense/mystery features Hester Thursby, Harvard librarian and master finder/researcher. I loved the whodunnit aspect, the alternating POVs, but mostly, I loved Hester. Check out my full review here. You better be sure I’ll be going back to read books 1 and 2 at some point! Also, thank you to Books Forward and Kensington Books for this free ARC in exchange for an honest review.

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner. This book follows two parallel storylines, that of modern day Caroline, who is on vacation alone after a shocking revelation from her husband, and that of Nella, an apothecary who sells her concoctions to women in need of help against the oppressive men in their lives and whose run-in with young Eliza will forever change their lives. My full review will be coming soon.

The Northern Reach by W. S. Winslow. This is a slow-burn collection of interrelated stories about the residents of a coastal Maine town and how throughout the 20th century, they intersect, intermarry, and intermingle. With a dash of magical realism and truly atmospheric writing, this one is great for fans of historical fiction. Thank you to Flatiron Books for the free ARC in exchange for an honest review, which you can read here.

The Push by Ashley Audrain. Living up to all the hype, this suspense novel unpacks the darkest side of motherhood and was truly a profound read. I was often disturbed and unsettled, but as a reader, I appreciated the way this book made me think hard about motherhood and womanhood. Check out my full review here.

Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan. This was a book club choice that I read with some college friend that was a thought-provoking dissection of how both media and the justice system often let those who commit heinous acts of sexual assault/rape get away and how victims are often to blame. This book is being turned into a Netflix series and I cannot wait.

My Year Abroad by Chang-rae Lee. So I’m not sure I’ve ever spent this long on a book! Like no joke, I was reading it for about a month. It’s a slow, arduous read, but also beautifully written, telling the story of how Tiller, a young, not-so-ambitious American, is taken under the wing of Pong, an enigmatic and charismatic businessman, and the events of their year abroad. Thank you to NetGalley and Riverhead for this free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto. Definitely the stand-out novel of the month, this story — part contemporary fiction and part romance — follows Chinese-Indonesian Meddy, whose aunties must come to the rescue after a blind date gone horribly wrong. What follows is a hilarious, heartwarming tale of of five women trying to cover up an accidental murder, work the biggest wedding of their careers, and Meddy’s run-in with an old flame. What could possibly go wrong? Thank you to Berkley and NetGalley for the free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas. This was a buddy read and a total “bookstagram made me do it.” The first book of the series, this story follows Feyre, a young girl cursed to live among faeries as punishment for a crime. A mix of Beauty and the Beast, Hunger Games, Spinning Silver, and a whole bunch of other fun fantasy tropes, this book was a fun, sexy read. I’m excited for the next ones to come!

The Final Revival of Opal & Nev by Dawnie Walton. This Book of the Month selection and debut novel is an oral history of the famous (yet fictional) rock n’ roll duo, Opal and Nev, who rise to fame in the 70’s. While it is a thrilling biography of sorts, it is also an indictment of consequences of protesting injustices has on women of color, especially Black women, versus men. Another stand out of the month.

Last Night at the Telegraph Club by Malinda Lo. This book follows 17-year-old Lily Hu, growing up in San Francisco Chinatown in the 1950’s. She is struggling with her budding feelings for a female classmate, but throughout the story, must find the courage to be true to herself while falling in love for the first time. It’s a touching, heartbreaking, yet hopeful read.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown by Talia Hibbert. This fun, super steamy romance follows Chloe Brown, who after a near-death experience, makes a list of things to do that will help her “get a life” and step out of her comfort zone. Enter her superintendent, Red, who is the perfect person to help her cross off this list and perhaps fall in love with along the way.

What was your favorite read of the month? Let me know below or send me a message on Instagram!

A fun, smart whodunnit: A review of Watch Her by Edwin Hill

This was such a fun mystery! First off, I loved Hester Thursby — she is super smart and resourceful, which make her an awesome sleuth, but she’s also a librarian at Harvard who is masterful when it comes to tracking people down. How cool is that?!

Quick synopsis: After Hester and Detective Angela White are called to the home of an elite Boston family who fun a for-profit university, they become entangled in the family’s secrets as they search for the truth amidst lies, financial indiscretions, and missing students. And when one of those missing students winds up dead, the case takes on a new urgency for everyone involved.

While I haven’t read the first two installments in this series, I certainly plan on doing so. Hill crafted a mystery that definitely had me on my toes, but with a central cast of likeable characters. While I love thrillers, I do get weary of reading books where the central character(s) is unlikeable or unreliable. It was so refreshing to have a cast to really root for as they got to the bottom of the case.

Additionally, I loved the friendship between Hester and Detective Angela White. They have a great friendship, which was not only fun to read about but also provided an awesome way to watch them solve a case: through Angela’s official channel of being on the force, and Hester’s unofficial sleuthing through her skills as a librarian. I definitely recommend this to any mystery lovers who want a loveable heroine with a good brain and heart. I am very much looking forward to checking out the first two books in this series! Hopefully there’s more to come, as well, from Edwin Hill in this series.

Thank you to Books Forward and Kensington Books for the gifted ARC in exchange for an honest review.

My Friday Five — book club picks for any group

Happy Friday, friends! I wanted to think of a weekly list that would be fun and easy to pull together, while also being a great starting point for conversations and potentially add some great new recs to my readers’ TBRs! So this is the first installment of my “Friday Five” — this week will focus on books I’d choose for a book club. My friend, Maggie, recently started this challenge on her bookstagram, and I thought it was such a fun idea. The biggest struggle was narrowing it down to only five! But here are my top choices that I think would satisfy any group and why.

Photo by Ellie Turns the Page.

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin. I would choose this book for the thriller-obsessed group that not only wants an awesome whodunnit with a fearless lead, but also a deep dive into the portrayal of sexual assault victims in this Me Too era. Full review is here.

Here For It; Or, How to Save Your Soul in America by R. Eric Thomas. This nonfiction essay collection would be my choice for the book club that wants to drink wine and laugh out loud while also talking about politics, social ideals, love, race, and hope in modern America.

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. This short, critically acclaimed novel would be a great pick for a group looking for a historical fiction that centers on race, class, gender issues, and more in a cross continental setting. Full review here.

The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson. This debut sci-fi would be the perfect fit for any sci-fi or fantasy book club. It’s a fresh take on the popular multiverse concept, features a diverse cast, and explores topics including race, women’s rights, religion, and social/economic status in an unforgiving landscape.

Dear Edward by Ann Napolitano. This choice would be for a group who is ready to feel ALL the feels by exploring loss, life, and hope through the eyes of a child who experiences an unbelievable tragedy and must figure out how to not only survive but truly live.

What book would you choose for your book club? Would any of my picks catch your attention? Let me know in the comments below or reach out on Instagram!

The kids are not alright: A review of The Push by Ashley Audrain

First off, I have to preface that while this book was unsettling throughout, the end was absolutely explosive. I was left with this total WTF moment — and trust me, it takes a LOT to do that nowadays — but in the best way. It’s hard to believe that this is Audrain’s debut novel because she writes with such force and emotion that I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable while reading, which I think was exactly the point.

Quick synopsis: New mother Blythe wants to be the mother she never had — but when her first child Violet is born, Blythe is convinced that something isn’t right about her and fails to connect with her as most mothers do. No one, including her husband, seems to believe her worries about Violet. Several years later when her second child Sam is born, Blythe has that special connection she always dreamed about. But when unspeakable tragedy occurs, she is forced to face her worst fears about motherhood, Violet, and herself.

This psychological family drama/domestic suspense forced me to question every preconceived notion about motherhood. Blythe, the narrator, is far from reliable, which was further reinforced by the book’s second-person narrative, as we clearly are only shown her point of view. I was constantly questioning what was real and what was fake, especially around the book’s focal tragedy. For the rest of the book, I was wrestling with how much blame can Blythe’s husband, their daughter, or her family history have on the ensuing tragedies that the book is centered on? Or is it Blythe herself who is to blame?

This book did an amazing job showing that motherhood is far from perfect and battling the societal idea that motherhood is the highest ideal of womanhood. It also addressed the unbelievability of women — what will it take for Blythe, a woman and mother, to have her wildest fears and motherly instincts taken seriously? And the less others believe her, the more she even questions herself, a gaslighting tactic that I’d argue many women have experienced at some time or another. Additionally, it made me question the idea of what makes someone a good mother. And is being a “good mother” learned or inherited?

This book is far from cheery and certainly shows the ugliest sides of motherhood, from conception to birth to raising them into personhood. It was deeply unsettling but in a way that made me admire Audrain’s abilities as a writer — I still can’t believe this is her debut novel.

This book, however, does need to come with basically every trigger warning possible. It’s likely a difficult read for anyone with a heart, but it does hit on many issues that could be traumatic to readers. But for anyone looking for a deeply unsettling, though-provoking, and well-written read that will really challenge your typical view on motherhood, I recommend this fast-paced psychological thriller.

CW: childbirth, parent-child abuse, violence, death of a child, severe and postpartum depression… and I’m sure there’s still some I’m missing 

The Push is published by Pamela Dorman Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Victimhood in the age of modern media: A review of The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

My copy of The Night Swim next to a cup of tea and a pair of fuzzy socks.

I don’t know about you, but I find thrillers and mysteries to be some of the the hardest reviews for me to write. While I generally try to leave out spoilers for any book, I always get anxious that I’m going to accidentally spoil something! And when it comes to this genre, I feel it is vital not to do so, as it can totally ruin the book. So I’ll try to be somewhat vague with this review of The Night Swim as to not ruin anything, but hopefully give you just enough that you’ll decide to pick up this awesome thriller!

Quick Synopsis: Rachel Krall, a famous true-crime podcaster, is in the small town of Neapolis covering a high-profile rape case between the former sheriff’s granddaughter and a the town’s golden boy, a swimmer destined for the Olympics. When Rachel finds a series of mysterious letters addressed to her begging for her help in solving a decades-old case in the same town — that of Jenny Stills, who tragically drowned, yet whose sister Hannah is convinced was murdered. The more Rachel asks questions, the more roadblocks she faces, as she realizes these two cases may be more intertwined than formerly thought.

This book had me hooked right from the start. I think my natural curiosity and career in journalism made me really connect with Rachel, who started as a reporter before becoming a podcaster. However, I admire her for her risk taking and willingness to do anything to find the story, since I don’t think I could be that brave in the face of a potential murder like she can!

I also enjoyed how this story moved back and forth between past and present, but in a somewhat unique and nontraditional way. The “past” sections, told from Hannah’s point of view (she’s the sister of Jenny Stills, who Hannah believes was murdered and didn’t just drown) are written in letter form, as Hannah continues to leave messages for Rachel, slowly but surely piecing together the mystery.

Most importantly, I found this novel to be a really interesting observation of how rape and sexual assault victims are treated in the media. In an age after the Me Too era and the devastating results of the Brock Turner case, this story was both a criticism and an analysis of how victims are treated in the media — while they do garner support, they also face a lot of harsh criticism, scrutiny, and judgment. This book really forced me to think, Why are rape victims the only victims that have to prove they’re not lying? Why do they bear the burden of proof? In the age of modern media, I think it both acts as a blessing and a curse for victims.

While I consider most thrillers to just be good, solid, and fun reads, this one was also incredibly thought-provoking, too. I definitely had my guesses as to who did it and was totally wrong, so that was a plus, as well. I definitely can’t believe that this one didn’t make the top five picks for Book of the Month’s Book of the Year finalists!

Who counts as a person? A review of The Echo Wife by Sarah Gailey

Happy pub day to this thrill ride of a novel! I’ve never read a book by Sarah Gailey, so I was so excited when I got approved for their newest book, The Echo Wife. I started getting into the science fiction genre with the past couple of years, and this one just sounded so intriguing. Overall, this book was an incredible thrill ride from start to finish that I could barely put down — I read it in only two sittings!

Quick synopsis: Evelyn, the book’s narrator and an incredibly gifted and celebrated scientist whose career focuses on designing realistic clones, faces a dilemma when her ex-husband’s lover Martine — and the woman he cheated on Evelyn with — reaches out to her in a panic to come help her. When Evelyn arrives at the house, she finds her ex murdered. The catch — Martine is Evelyn’s clone, illegally designed and created by her ex-husband.

It’s a trippy, twisty set up for what becomes a creative, dark, yet delightful marriage between domestic thriller and classic science fiction. I’ve never read anything quite like it, so I was absolutely hooked from page one.

Evelyn and Martine are both not always likable, but I found them to be highly relatable, navigating the struggles of womanhood in its many forms: as a wife, ex, friend, and, in their case, a clone. This story forced me to think about the morality behind this science and what constitutes personhood. Was Martine as much of a person as Evelyn? Or are clones — designed for a specific purpose, whether it’s to be a realistic stand-in to protect a politician or, like Martine, to be the perfect wife — disposable? And like any good sci-fi, I found it both marvelously fictional yet also realistic enough it gave me chills thinking about this scenario happening in a near or not-so-near future.

I don’t want to give anymore away as to ruin any plot points, but if you enjoy science fiction or domestic thrillers, this is certainly a great book to consider. I also think this story resembles domestic thriller so much that this book would make an awesome introduction to readers new or unfamiliar to the sci-fi genre.

This book is officially out today, February 16th. Thank you to NetGalley and TOR for a free eARC in exchange for an honest review.

My monthly reading wrap-up — January 2021

My pile of books I read in January 2021.

Wow, everyone — this month was chock full of amazing reads! I think one of the things this month that I am most proud of is the wide variety of books that I selected, including a personal development, short story collection, satire, thrillers, contemporary fiction, romance, and family drama. I was very fortunate to have a month where nothing I read fell flat. Each read was at least a 3-star read with several good things to say about them. Below are some mini reviews and synopses.

In Five Years by Rebecca Serle. This book was a Christmas gift from one of my closest friends, which meant so much to me. Serle’s debut, The Dinner List, was one of the books that really got me back into reading while I was in graduate school at Syracuse. Like her first one, In Five Years was filled with warmth and emotion as it follows meticulous and detail-oriented Dannie, whose life is turned upside down when she wakes up fives years in the future to experience one hour of a life very different than the one she originally envisions for herself. Upon returning to the present, she is unable to shake that hour, which transforms the many plans she had made for herself. This was a beautiful story to read coming out of a challenging year, full of transformation, hope, self discovery, and healing in the face of great tragedy for Dannie. It is story that brought me to tears but also provided great hope. A great first read of 2021!

The Office of Historical Corrections: A Novella and Stories by Danielle Evans. This collection was absolutely stellar — you can read my full review of the titular novella here. Overall, each story was challenging and thought-provoking, taking me back to my undergrad days as an English major. Some were more satirical, while others were dark or optimistic, but each dealt with topics of race, gender, and history in powerful ways. If you enjoy short stories that make you think hard, I definitely recommend this latest collection from author Evans.

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins. This modern-day retelling of the classic Jane Eyre was such a fresh take on the original. While this story definitely strayed from the original, there were so many wonderful and creative nods to the Bronte classic that I couldn’t help but fall in love with the care and creativity that Hawkins put into her story. Just like the classic, Jane was my favorite character — while she wasn’t always likable in this retelling, she was resourceful, intelligent, and brave. After this story, I’m not sure I’ll ever look at the original story the same way, which is a good thing! If anything, this thriller gave me an even greater appreciation for the original and reminded me why this classic deserves its spot in the literary canon.

Black Buck my Mateo Askaripour. This one was definitely the absolute stand-out novel of January. It was so sharp and fresh, laugh-out-loud funny, yet so indicting in its criticism of race, ambition, and otherness in America’s workforce. You can read my full review here. This book had me entertained from start to finish, while simultaneously had me thinking hard about our society. Without a doubt, I will be recommending this book to anyone who asks my opinion!

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This is a close second for favorite book of January 2021. Like her past novels, Reid managed to create an ambitious, sexy, and glamourous tale that was simultaneously warm and tender, this time with a family drama that takes place over the course of 24 hours but with several flashbacks. I feel so fortunate to have received an eARC thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Random House in exchange for an honest review. You can read my full review here.

The Girl With the Louding Voice by Abi Daré. I used my free Book of the Year add-on credit with Book of the Month to get this incredible debut. I’d read the other four finalists, so of course, I needed to know what all the hype was with this one. And, boy, do I regret not getting this when it first came out in January 2020! This was a powerful testament to the power of education in helping young women find their voices. I was truly touched by Adunni’s resiliency, courage, and intelligence, as she fights to find her voice and follow her dreams. It truly deserved a spot as a top read of 2020, as chosen by Book of the Month subscribers. Check out my full review here.

The Happiness Equation: Want Nothing + Do Anything = Have Everything by Neil Pasricha. I don’t read a whole lot of nonfiction or personal development books, but I’m so fortunate to have been gifted this book in a Secret Santa exchange. It was a great book to start a new year, especially coming out of the unprecedented events of 2020. There were so many pieces of advice that resonated with me, and I enjoyed the collection of real-life quotes and anecdotes from a variety of famous people, from celebrities to athletes to philosophers, on how to achieve happiness. It’s a super fun, readable book for anyone wanting to learn some practical, applicable tips. If you’re like me and don’t read much self-help or nonfiction books, this would be a great one to check out.

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin. Disclaimer — as much as I love a good thriller, I sometimes find myself very weary with them. When you’ve read as many as I have, it’s tough to find one that surprises you! But The Night Swim managed to have me guessing until the end. I thought I had the “whodunnit” part figured out, but I managed to be shocked when the ending came. This was one of the best thrillers I’ve picked up in a long time in terms of true suspense. Additionally, it touched on issues of rape and sexual assault and the way female victims are treated in way that felt very validating. I’m shocked this one didn’t make it in Book of the Month’s BOTY finalists! You can read my full review soon.

What books did you read this month, and which one was your favorite? Comment below or reach out via Instagram!