February Reads and Reviews

Another great month of reading! I spent a lot of time outside this month reading on our balcony- it's one of my favorite places to read and really got me to finish a lot of books this month. There were some great ones and also some I wouldn't recommend, in lots of genres! Here's what I read in February-


The Holiday Swap by Maggie Knox

When chef Charlie Goodwin gets hit on the head on the L.A. set of her reality baking show, she loses a lot more than consciousness; she also loses her ability to taste and smell--both critical to her success as show judge. Meanwhile, Charlie's identical twin, Cass, is frantically trying to hold her own life together back in their quaint mountain hometown while running the family's bustling bakery and dealing with her ex, who won't get the memo that they're over.

With only days until Christmas, a desperate Charlie asks Cass to do something they haven't done since they were kids: switch places. Looking for her own escape from reality, Cass agrees. But temporarily trading lives proves more complicated than they imagined, especially when rugged firefighter Jake Greenman and gorgeous physician's assistant Miguel Rodriguez are thrown into the mix. Will the twins' identity swap be a recipe for disaster, or does it have all the right ingredients for getting their lives back on track?

Cute book- a little cheesy and predictable for me but super sweet for the holidays. I like how people described it as great British bake off meets Gilmore Girls!

My Rating - 2.5/5



An Anonymous Girl by Greer Hendricks

When Jessica Farris signs up for a psychology study conducted by the mysterious Dr. Shields, she thinks all she’ll have to do is answer a few questions, collect her money, and leave. But as the questions grow more and more intense and invasive and the sessions become outings where Jess is told what to wear and how to act, she begins to feel as though Dr. Shields may know what she’s thinking…and what she’s hiding. As Jess’s paranoia grows, it becomes clear that she can no longer trust what in her life is real, and what is one of Dr. Shields’ manipulative experiments. Caught in a web of deceit and jealousy, Jess quickly learns that some obsessions can be deadly.


Entertaining book that kept me on the edge of my seat but ultimately let me down with a lack-luster ending. I also wasn't a fan of Lydia's chapters which just felt so cold and clinical to me. I know that's the style they were after but it just felt so strange to read it. I was hoping for more twists but it was a pretty straight forward book.

My Rating - 3/5


Broken (in the best possible way) by Jenny Lawson

Note- this won goodread's Best Humor book of 2021

As Jenny Lawson’s hundreds of thousands of fans know, she suffers from depression. In Broken, Jenny brings readers along on her mental and physical health journey, offering heartbreaking and hilarious anecdotes along the way.

With people experiencing anxiety and depression now more than ever, Jenny humanizes what we all face in an all-too-real way, reassuring us that we’re not alone and making us laugh while doing it. From the business ideas that she wants to pitch to Shark Tank to the reason why Jenny can never go back to the post office, Broken leaves nothing to the imagination in the most satisfying way. And of course, Jenny’s long-suffering husband Victor―the Ricky to Jenny’s Lucille Ball―is present throughout.

A treat for Jenny Lawson’s already existing fans, and destined to convert new ones, Broken is a beacon of hope and a wellspring of laughter when we all need it most.

Loved some of the chapters and they made me laugh out loud, while others I skimmed over and didn't enjoy. The stream of conscious writing isn't my favorite style, and I prefer books that are more cohesive instead of stand-alone chapters. I appreciate how Jenny talked about her mental (and physical) health struggles a lot, and got into the frustration of dealing with health care providers and insurance, but otherwise I didn't really enjoy the book that much. It's probably just a style thing that didn't mesh with me!

My Rating - 3/5


Pretty Little Wife by Darby Kane

Lila Ridgefield lives in an idyllic college town, but not everything is what it seems. Lila isn’t what she seems. A student vanished months ago. Now, Lila’s husband, Aaron, is also missing. At first these cases are treated as horrible coincidences until it’s discovered the student is really the third of three unexplained disappearances over the last few years. The police are desperate to find the connection, if there even is one. Little do they know they might be stumbling over only part of the truth….

With the small town in an uproar, everyone is worried about the whereabouts of their beloved high school teacher. Everyone except Lila, his wife. She’s definitely confused about her missing husband but only because she was the last person to see his body, and now it’s gone.

This was my book club's pick for the month, and it was fun to dive into a thriller which isn't always my genre of choice! I liked this book but didn’t love it, which seemed to be the general consensus with my book club ladies. Seemed to drag on forever in the beginning and I wasn’t a fan of Lila or Ginny(or really anyone to be honest). Picked up a ton at the halfway point and had a surprising ending for me. Still some things that didn’t make sense or pieces that seemed to not go together, plus some loose ends that I wanted answers to.

My Rating - 3/5


The Spanish Love Deception by Elena Armas

Note- this won goodread's Best Debut novel of 2021

Catalina Martín, finally, not single. Her family is happy to announce that she will bring her American boyfriend to her sister’s wedding. Everyone is invited to come and witness the most magical event of the year. That would certainly be tomorrow’s headline in the local newspaper of the small Spanish town I came from. Or the epitaph on my tombstone, seeing the turn my life had taken in the span of a phone call.

Four weeks wasn’t a lot of time to find someone willing to cross the Atlantic–from NYC and all the way to Spain–for a wedding. Let alone, someone eager to play along my charade. But that didn’t mean I was desperate enough to bring the 6’4 blue eyed pain in my ass standing before me.

Aaron Blackford. The man whose main occupation was making my blood boil had just offered himself to be my date. Right after inserting his nose in my business, calling me delusional, and calling himself my best option. See? Outrageous. Aggravating. Blood boiling. And much to my total despair, also right. Which left me with a surly and extra large dilemma in my hands. Was it worth the suffering to bring my colleague and bane of my existence as my fake boyfriend to my sister’s wedding? Or was I better off coming clean and facing the consequences of my panic induced lie?


This book seems to be very controversial with people either loving it or absolutely hating it. I definitely fall into the first camp and devoured this book! I thought that it was so cute and also the perfect mix drama and romance (without going overboard on one or the other) with a bunch of comedy and sass sprinkled in. Loved the characters, loved the chemistry. A little annoying and repetitive in the beginning but then gets so good. I know a common complain about the book is how Lina is blind to how Aaron feels, but to me that didn't take away anything from the book and I still really enjoyed it! Plus I just SWOON over Aaron. Looking forward to the author's second book which features the best friend and the brother!

My Rating - 4.5/5


The Guest List by Lucy Foley

On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed.

But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast.

And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?


Quick and easy read. A little slow to start but then I couldn't read fast enough to keep up with the action. I really liked how the story was told from the point of view of 5 different characters and also switched from the past to present. I think that's what helped keep the story moving along and you could never get bored. Great ending that is full of twists till the last page. Loved!

My Rating - 4/5


The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She’s going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better.

That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second, and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex—he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she herself has just started to understand. However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.


I liked this book a lot, but didn't love it. I appreciated how the author created a character that mirrored her own experience with being on the autistic spectrum, and offered an insight into a world I don't really know much about. I also loved how she was a violinist since I used to play the violin and you never see musicians as the main characters! The scenes with Quan and Anna melted my heart (especially as they were getting to know each other) but the rest I found a little repetitive but also seemed to fly by -In particular the scene at the Grand Canyon?! That whole chapter gave me whiplash!

I also don't feel like I should be able to critique how Anna acted but a few things she did or how she reacted to situations made me feel sorry for Quan..but also felt for her with how her family treated her. Also whyyyyy would they hurt an innocent violin that way!! Overall a fun and easy read, but not my favorite.

My Rating - 3/5


Unstoppable by Maria Sharapova

Sharapova’s career has always been driven by her determination and by her dedication to hard work. Her story doesn’t begin with the 2004 Wimbledon championship, but years before, in a small Russian town, where as a five-year-old she played on drab neighborhood courts with precocious concentration. It begins when her father, convinced his daughter could be a star, risked everything to get them to Florida, that sacred land of tennis academies. It begins when the two arrived with only seven hundred dollars and knowing only a few words of English. From that, Sharapova scraped together one of the most influential sports careers in history.

Here, for the first time, is the whole story, and in her own words. Sharapova’s is an unforgettable saga of dedication and fortune. She brings us inside her pivotal matches and illuminates the relationships that have shaped her—with coaches, best friends, boyfriends, and Yuri, her coach, manager, father, and most dedicated fan, describing with honesty and affection their oft-scrutinized relationship. She writes frankly about the suspension. As Sharapova returns to the professional circuit, one thing is clear: the ambition to win that drove her from the public courts of Russia to the manicured lawns of Wimbledon has not diminished.


I love a good sports memoir and this one was really interesting. As controversial as she is (even before her doping suspension), I was always intrigued by Maria and wanted to learn more of her story. I think this covers it really well and succinctly- it's an easy read and goes through her early years all the way through her suspension without dragging on. (If you don't want to hear her side of the Meldonium scandal just skip the intro and last chapter).

I like learning about all the random things that happened to people to get them where they are- all the chance encounters and lucky breaks, but what really comes through in this book is her father and her own unshakable believe that she would be the best in the game, no matter what.

As a tennis fan I loved this book and getting behind the scenes of some famous matches (and the (one-sided) rivalry with Serena). Her give-no-cares attitude on court definitely follows off the court, and she is not here to make friends! 

My Rating - 4/5

Comments

  1. I enjoy a good memoir and like hearing how celebrities and sports heroes alike reflect back on their life's choices.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I liked The Guest List! I have the newest Lucy Foley in for me at the library.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I really loved The Guest List. I have her newest from BOTM!

    Lauren @ www.shootingstarsmag.net

    ReplyDelete

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