January + February Reads and Reviews
Good morning everyone! Today I'll be sharing my recent reads- both from January and February. You'll notice a ton of holiday books- I finally got to check them out from the library and it's helped to keep me in the holiday spirit. Most of these books are in the romance / young adult genre, so next month I'm looking forward to getting back to more substantial, thought-provoking reads. But sometimes it's nice to have something fluffy and easy to read!
Here's a look at my reads along with thoughts and ratings-
10 Blind Dates by Ashley Elston
Sophie wants one thing for Christmas—a little freedom from her overprotective parents. So when they decide to spend Christmas in South Louisiana with her very pregnant older sister, Sophie is looking forward to some much needed private (read: make-out) time with her long-term boyfriend, Griffin. Except it turns out that Griffin wants a little freedom from their relationship. Cue devastation. Heartbroken, Sophie flees to her grandparents' house, where the rest of her boisterous extended family is gathered for the holiday. That's when her nonna devises a (not so) brilliant plan: Over the next ten days, Sophie will be set up on ten different blind dates by different family members. Like her sweet cousin Sara, who sets her up with a hot guy at an exclusive underground party. Or her crazy aunt Patrice, who signs Sophie up for a lead role in a living nativity. With a boy who barely reaches her shoulder. And a screaming baby. When Griffin turns up unexpectedly and begs for a second chance, Sophie feels more confused than ever. Because maybe, just maybe, she's started to have feelings for someone else . . . Someone who is definitely not available. This is going to be the worst Christmas break ever . . . or is it?
This is the cutest book! I read it right after Christmas, and it kept me in that holiday mood. I've occasionally wanted a huge, nebby, obnoxious family so I was living vicariously through the characters in this book. The only downside to that is there were SO many characters to keep up with, that I only really remember the main 4, the sister, and the grandparents (who seemed SO CUTE). I loved all of the dates as well as the side action of the sister. This book is kind of cheesy and predictable, but it's cozy and sweet and I loved it.
My Rating - 4/5
The City Baker's Guide to Country Living by Louise Miller
When Olivia Rawlings—pastry chef extraordinaire for an exclusive Boston dinner club—sets not just her flambéed dessert but the entire building alight, she escapes to the most comforting place she can think of—the idyllic town of Guthrie, Vermont, home of Bag Balm, the country’s longest-running contra dance, and her best friend Hannah. But the getaway turns into something more lasting when Margaret Hurley, the cantankerous, sweater-set-wearing owner of the Sugar Maple Inn, offers Livvy a job. Broke and knowing that her days at the club are numbered, Livvy accepts.
Livvy moves with her larger-than-life, uberenthusiastic dog, Salty, into a sugarhouse on the inn’s property and begins creating her mouthwatering desserts for the residents of Guthrie. She soon uncovers the real reason she has been hired—to help Margaret reclaim the inn’s blue ribbon status at the annual county fair apple pie contest.
With the joys of a fragrant kitchen, the sound of banjos and fiddles being tuned in a barn, and the crisp scent of the orchard just outside the front door, Livvy soon finds herself immersed in small town life. And when she meets Martin McCracken, the Guthrie native who has returned from Seattle to tend his ailing father, Livvy comes to understand that she may not be as alone in this world as she once thought.
But then another new arrival takes the community by surprise, and Livvy must decide whether to do what she does best and flee—or stay and finally discover what it means to belong. Olivia Rawlings may finally find out that the life you want may not be the one you expected—it could be even better.
This is another sweet, cozy story to read in the depth of winter. I actually discovered this and the previous book in a blog post about best "cozy, winter books to read". I loved following along with Livvy as she baked, and each page made my mouth water. The descriptions of Vermont immediately made me want to book a trip there and stay at an inn! I also loved all of the music talk- as someone who loves baking and playing musical instruments this really spoke to my heart!
Took points off because the characters were all frustrating to me. Won't give anything away, but most of the characters didn't really seem to develop to me..particularly Livvy who just seemed to run away from all of her problems and screwed over the people who have always helped her. It frustrated me so much! Parts of the book also seemed to go on forever and ever, and then other parts were just skimmed over. Not really a fan of the pace of the book, but could have just read descriptions of the meals Livvy was working on.
My Rating - 3/5
The Idea of You by Robinne Lee
Solène Marchand, the thirty-nine-year-old owner of an art gallery in Los Angeles, is reluctant to take her daughter, Isabelle, to meet her favorite boy band. But since her divorce, she’s more eager than ever to be close to Isabelle. The last thing Solène expects is to make a connection with one of the members of the world-famous August Moon. But Hayes Campbell is clever, winning, confident, and posh, and the attraction is immediate. That he is all of twenty years old further complicates things.
What begins as a series of clandestine trysts quickly evolves into a passionate and genuine relationship. It is a journey that spans continents as Solène and Hayes navigate each other’s worlds: from stadium tours to international art fairs to secluded hideaways in Paris and Miami. For Solène, it is a reclaiming of self, as well as a rediscovery of happiness and love. When Solène and Hayes’ romance becomes a viral sensation, and both she and her daughter become the target of rabid fans and an insatiable media, Solène must face how her romantic life has impacted the lives of those she cares about most.
I absolutely flew through this book- loved being thrown into a world that I will NEVER be a part of. So much glamour, artsy people, crazed fans, and ritzy hotels around the world. It wasn't anything deep or intellectual- just a fun and sexy story of an older woman falling for a younger boy band member! I've heard that this is a fan-fiction for Harry Styles in One Direction, which made it even more fun to read picturing him as the main character. Based on reviews from friends and people I follow, this definitely seems to be a divisive book though - some people loved the plot and got swept up, while others found it boring and the more explicate scenes too tame (I get embarrassed very quickly though so for me they were just detailed enough)
I loved every single page except the last one- it wasn't the ending I expected and I hope there will be a sequel! It seemed super abrupt and like there should have been an extra chapter or epilogue. Didn't feel finished and I was a bit disappointed and it honestly bothered me for days after, which I suppose is the sign of a good book.
My Rating - 4/5
The Midnight Library by Matt Haig
Somewhere out beyond the edge of the universe there is a library that contains an infinite number of books, each one the story of another reality. One tells the story of your life as it is, along with another book for the other life you could have lived if you had made a different choice at any point in your life. While we all wonder how our lives might have been, what if you had the chance to go to the library and see for yourself? Would any of these other lives truly be better?
In The Midnight Library, Matt Haig’s enchanting new novel, Nora Seed finds herself faced with this decision. Faced with the possibility of changing her life for a new one, following a different career, undoing old breakups, realizing her dreams of becoming a glaciologist; she must search within herself as she travels through the Midnight Library to decide what is truly fulfilling in life, and what makes it worth living in the first place.
10/10 on concept, 7/10 on execution. Loved following all the regrets and parallel lives, but found it pretty predictable and a bit cheesy at the end. Also had a few plot holes and things that didn't really make sense to me, but overall a very enjoyable and unique book. I think this would be an amazing book to pick up for a book club- could really start interesting conversations about life and regrets and where you would choose to journey back to.
My Rating - 4/5
The Twelve Dates of Christmas by Jenny Bayliss
When it comes to relationships, thirty-four-year-old Kate Turner is ready to say "Bah, humbug." The sleepy town of Blexford, England, isn't exactly brimming with prospects, and anyway, Kate's found fulfillment in her career as a designer, and in her delicious side job baking for her old friend Matt's neighborhood café. But then her best friend signs her up for a dating agency that promises to help singles find love before the holidays. Twenty-three days until Christmas. Twelve dates with twelve different men. The odds must finally be in her favor . . . right?
Yet with each new date more disastrous than the one before--and the whole town keeping tabs on her misadventures--Kate must remind herself that sometimes love, like mistletoe, shows up where it's least expected. And maybe, just maybe, it's been right under her nose all along. . . .
Another super cozy, festive read that was cheesy and sappy and amazing. It kind of reminded me of a PG-13 version of 10 Blind Dates but set in the English countryside and a lot more alcohol involved. I also loved how the character was an artist and baker which are two of my biggest passions (and seems to be a theme for these holiday books). Such a unique story line with some predictable endings and plot lines but also some surprises along the way, as well as very lovely characters. Fun read!
My Rating - 4/5
In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Super cute and unique love story. Loved the holiday setting and I want my own group of "family" friends to get together with cheesy traditions every year! I enjoyed this book a lot but there were so many plot holes for me and things that just didn't make sense, as well as too many convenient things that happened to save the day. Still an enjoyable read, and my new goal is to be someone's Benny..and also find my own Benny to confide in.
Have you read any of these books?