December Reads and Reviews
December for me was all about reading! I didn't go anywhere or do pretty much anything all month, so I finished more books in a month than I think I ever did before. It was a great way to escape and have a healthy way to chill out at the end of the day. After the horrific events this week in Washington DC and feeling so helpless (and at times hopeless), I leaned on reading again to be transported to a happier, safer place. I hope that reading can be that escape when you need it as well. Here's what I read in December and what I thought of each book-
Joe Goldberg is no stranger to hiding bodies. In the past ten years, this thirty-something has buried four of them, collateral damage in his quest for love. Now he’s heading west to Los Angeles, the city of second chances, determined to put his past behind him.
In Hollywood, Joe blends in effortlessly with the other young upstarts. He eats guac, works in a bookstore, and flirts with a journalist neighbor. But while others seem fixated on their own reflections, Joe can’t stop looking over his shoulder. The problem with hidden bodies is that they don’t always stay that way. They re-emerge, like dark thoughts, multiplying and threatening to destroy what Joe wants most: true love. And when he finds it in a darkened room in Soho House, he’s more desperate than ever to keep his secrets buried. He doesn’t want to hurt his new girlfriend—he wants to be with her forever. But if she ever finds out what he’s done, he may not have a choice…
A little back story- I read the first book in this series (You) and loved it. Then, the TV show came out and I thought it was good and followed the book pretty closely. I also thought the actors that were picked really matched the characters as I pictured them. Then- a few months ago I realized that season 2 of You came out, and I binged it immediately. I liked it even more than season 1 and was excited to read the second book in the series! So, I ended up being really disappointed that they had absolutely nothing in common- the characters were all completely different, the story line wasn't similar at all except for a few details here and there. I also did not like the writing in it and didn't enjoy it at all!
My Rating - 2/5
In a small town in Virginia, a group of people know each other because they’re part of a special treatment center, a hyperbaric chamber that may cure a range of conditions from infertility to autism. But then the chamber explodes, two people die, and it’s clear the explosion wasn’t an accident.
A showdown unfolds as the story moves across characters who are all maybe keeping secrets, hiding betrayals. Was it the careless mother of a patient? Was it the owners, hoping to cash in on a big insurance payment and send their daughter to college? Could it have been a protester, trying to prove the treatment isn’t safe?
I went into this book with really high expectations because of all the praise I was seeing about it, and it was definitely good but not AMAZING. I enjoy court room thrillers, and if you do as well this is a must-read. The plot centers around a woman who is believed to have set fire to an oxygen chamber where her son and others were receiving treatment. How could such a monster do that? Of course, there's more to the story, and there are twists and turns along the way to create a complex story with multiple "villains".
I'm taking off one star because I saw what was coming and nothing felt truly shocking- plus the story kind of dragged on in parts (especially the last chapter when we find out what happens and what the repercussions should be...felt like that lasted way tooo long!). Overall a good story to plow through, and I loved all of the themes (cause and effect, friendship, motherly love, pain and loss, etc.) and the writing was beautiful!
My Rating - 4/5
The Space Between Worlds
Multiverse travel is finally possible, but there’s just one catch: No one can visit a world where their counterpart is still alive. Enter Cara, whose parallel selves happen to be exceptionally good at dying—from disease, turf wars, or vendettas they couldn’t outrun. Cara’s life has been cut short on 372 worlds in total.
But trouble finds Cara when one of her eight remaining doppelgängers dies under mysterious circumstances, plunging her into a new world with an old secret. What she discovers will connect her past and her future in ways she could have never imagined—and reveal her own role in a plot that endangers not just her world, but the entire multiverse.
This book was so, so good. Sci fi without being too difficult to understand, full of action and a little romance, and twists and turns through every chapter. It took a while for me to get through but I really savored it and loved every page! It's kind of hard to talk about the book without giving too much away, but if you like multiple dimension / space travel type of books (think Dark Matter and Recursion) then you'll enjoy this book. My only criticism is that the actual plot line took a while to get to and seemed kind of rushed at the end. I could have done with a sequel where this one just set up the world and left us with a cliff hanger, and the second really dove into the action.
My Rating - 5/5
Six years after the fight that ended their friendship, Daphne Berg is shocked when Drue Cavanaugh walks back into her life, looking as lovely and successful as ever, with a massive favor to ask. Daphne hasn’t spoken one word to Drue in all this time—she doesn’t even hate-follow her ex-best friend on social media—so when Drue asks if she will be her maid-of-honor at the society wedding of the summer, Daphne is rightfully speechless.
Drue was always the one who had everything—except the ability to hold onto friends. Meanwhile, Daphne’s no longer the same self-effacing sidekick she was back in high school. She’s built a life that she loves, including a growing career as a plus-size Instagram influencer. Letting glamorous, seductive Drue back into her life is risky, but it comes with an invitation to spend a weekend in a waterfront Cape Cod mansion. When Drue begs and pleads and dangles the prospect of cute single guys, Daphne finds herself powerless as ever to resist her friend’s siren song.
A sparkling novel about the complexities of female friendship, the pitfalls of living out loud and online, and the resilience of the human heart, Big Summer is a witty, moving story about family, friendship, and figuring out what matters most.
Really really loved this book! So many of the themes were relatable- having an insecurity that stays with you, dealing with toxic friends that as much as you try you can’t completely let go of, and imposter syndrome. Wont say any more about the plot but this was a huge surprise for me- I went in not knowing what the book was about at all and that’s the best way to read it. It was a pleasant surprise and fun read- took off a point for some weird plot holes or things that didn’t really make sense but helped the plot along.
My Rating - 4/5
The Honey Don't List
Carey Douglas has worked for home remodeling and design gurus Melissa and Rusty Tripp for nearly a decade. A country girl at heart, Carey started in their first store at sixteen, and—more than anyone would suspect—has helped them build an empire. With a new show and a book about to launch, the Tripps are on the verge of superstardom. There’s only one problem: America’s favorite couple can’t stand each other.
James McCann, MIT graduate and engineering genius, was originally hired as a structural engineer, but the job isn’t all he thought it’d be. The last straw? Both he and Carey must go on book tour with the Tripps and keep the wheels from falling off the proverbial bus.
Unfortunately, neither of them is in any position to quit. Carey needs health insurance, and James has been promised the role of a lifetime if he can just keep the couple on track for a few more weeks. While road-tripping with the Tripps up the West Coast, Carey and James vow to work together to keep their bosses’ secrets hidden, and their own jobs secure. But if they stop playing along—and start playing for keeps—they may have the chance to build something beautiful together…
I feel kind of conflicted about this book- I liked the main characters a lot and really liked how they weren't the typical leads in books like this (the guy was a nerdy engineer and the girl didn't go to college and has a movement disorder). I loved their scenes together and general chemistry, but otherwise wasn't a fan of this book. It almost seemed like fan-fiction of Chip and Joanna from Fixer Upper, and those characters were awful. Plus, the whole book we get snippets of people being interviewed by detectives about a mysterious event that happens, but I feel like it was a letdown when we find out about it.
My Rating - 3/5
What did you read in December?