December Reads and Reviews

Wow- I got a LOT of reading done this month! This year in general I've read a lot more than any other, but this month was probably my highest month ever. Most of them were super quick and cute holiday or romance reads- I was just in the mood for easy reads- and for the most part I liked them all! Here's what I read in December-


By the Book by Jasmine Guillory

Isabelle is completely lost. When she first began her career in publishing right out of college, she did not expect to be twenty-five, living at home, still an editorial assistant, and the only Black employee at her publishing house. Overworked and underpaid, constantly torn between speaking up or stifling herself, Izzy thinks there must be more to this publishing life. So when she overhears her boss complaining about a beastly high-profile author who has failed to deliver his long-awaited manuscript, Isabelle sees an opportunity to finally get the promotion she deserves.

All she has to do is go to the author’s Santa Barbara mansion and give him a quick pep talk or three. How hard could it be?

But Izzy quickly finds out she is in over her head. Beau Towers is not some celebrity lightweight writing a tell-all memoir. He is jaded and withdrawn and—it turns out—just as lost as Izzy. But despite his standoffishness, Izzy needs Beau to deliver, and with her encouragement, his story begins to spill onto the page. They soon discover they have more in common than either of them expected, and as their deadline nears, Izzy and Beau begin to realize there may be something there that wasn't there before.


I like the concept of this series- a modern retelling of famous fairy tales. This one is obviously based on Beauty and the Beast, but without knowing about the series (and some random mentions, like her company is called "Tale As Old As Time Publishing...) I don't think it would have been obvious. This was basically just a watered down enemies-to-lovers story, which was cute and sweet but lacked some oomph

My Rating - 3/5


The Anthropocene Reviewed by John Green

Note- this won Goodread's best Nonfiction of 2021

The Anthropocene is the current geological age, in which human activity has profoundly shaped the planet and its biodiversity. In this remarkable symphony of essays adapted and expanded from his ground-breaking, critically acclaimed podcast, John Green reviews different facets of the human-centered planet - from the QWERTY keyboard and Halley's Comet to Penguins of Madagascar - on a five-star scale.

Complex and rich with detail, the Anthropocene's reviews have been praised as 'observations that double as exercises in memoiristic empathy', with over 10 million lifetime downloads. John Green's gift for storytelling shines throughout this artfully curated collection about the shared human experience; it includes beloved essays along with six all-new pieces exclusive to the book.

This was a really interesting book to read- so many different topics and broken down in a really scientific way. It did get a little repetitive after a while and I found myself skipping around chapters based on what appealed to me the most, because each chapter stands alone. 

My Rating - 3/5 (feels very meta to be rating a book all about ratings...)



The Cheat Sheet by Sarah Adams

Hi, my name is Bree Camden, and I’m hopelessly in love with my best friend and star quarterback Nathan Donelson (so is half of America, judging by the tabloids and how much the guy dates). The first step is admitting, right? Except, I can never admit it to him because he clearly doesn’t see me that way, and the last thing I want is for things to get weird between us.

Nothing but good old-fashioned, no-touching-the-sexiest-man-alive, platonic friendship for us! Everything is exactly how I like it! Yes. Good. (I’m not crying, I’m just peeling an onion.)

Our friendship is going swimmingly until I accidentally spill my beans to a reporter over too much tequila, and now the world seems to think me and Nathan belong together. Oh, and did I mention we have to date publicly for three weeks until after the Super Bowl because we signed a contract with...oops, forgot I can’t tell anyone about that!

Bottom line is, now my best friend is smudging all the lines and acting very un-platonic, and I’m just trying to keep my body from bursting into flames every time he touches me.

How am I going to make it through three weeks of fake dating Nathan without anything changing between us? Especially when it almost-sort-a-kinda seems like he’s fighting for a completely different outcome?

You can basically guess the entire book just by reading the premise, but it was still such a cute, low-stress read. Most of the book was just Bree and Nathan being adorable and pretending like they're not in love with eachother, and also includes some fake dating for good measure. All the romance tropes are there but I didn't even care because it was such a fun and easy read. 

My Rating - 4/5


It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey


Piper Bellinger is fashionable, influential, and her reputation as a wild child means the paparazzi are constantly on her heels. When too much champagne and an out-of-control rooftop party lands Piper in the slammer, her stepfather decides enough is enough. So he cuts her off, and sends Piper and her sister to learn some responsibility running their late father’s dive bar... in Washington.

Piper hasn’t even been in Westport for five minutes when she meets big, bearded sea captain Brendan, who thinks she won’t last a week outside of Beverly Hills. So what if Piper can’t do math, and the idea of sleeping in a shabby apartment with bunk beds gives her hives. How bad could it really be? She’s determined to show her stepfather—and the hot, grumpy local—that she’s more than a pretty face.

Except it’s a small town and everywhere she turns, she bumps into Brendan. The fun-loving socialite and the gruff fisherman are polar opposites, but there’s an undeniable attraction simmering between them. Piper doesn’t want any distractions, especially feelings for a man who sails off into the sunset for weeks at a time. Yet as she reconnects with her past and begins to feel at home in Westport, Piper starts to wonder if the cold, glamorous life she knew is what she truly wants. LA is calling her name, but Brendan—and this town full of memories—may have already caught her heart. 

This book was described as Schitt's Creek in the Pacific Northwest, and that's pretty much exactly what this was. I couldn't help but picture Alexis while I was reading this! The character of Piper was a little annoying to me and it was definitely a predictable book (aren't most romances?) but it was such a steamy book with some hilarious dialogue that I still loved it. My other criticisms are that Brendan got very possessive VERY quickly and it was a little uncomfortable to read, and also some of the scenes were extremely cringy. If you've read this, I think you know what I mean!

My Rating - 4/5



Christmas Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella


Becky Brandon (née Bloomwood) adores Christmas. It's always the same – Mum and Dad hosting, carols playing, Mum pretending she made the Christmas pudding, and the next-door neighbours coming round for sherry in their terrible festive jumpers.

And now it's even easier with online bargain-shopping sites – if you spend enough you even get free delivery. Sorted! But this year looks set to be different. Unable to resist the draw of craft beer and smashed avocado, Becky's parents are moving to ultra-trendy Shoreditch and have asked Becky if she'll host Christmas this year. What could possibly go wrong?

With sister Jess demanding a vegan turkey, husband Luke determined that he just wants aftershave again, and little Minnie insisting on a very specific picnic hamper – surely Becky can manage all this, as well as the surprise appearance of an old boyfriend and his pushy new girlfriend, whose motives are far from clear . . .Will chaos ensue, or will Becky manage to bring comfort and joy to Christmas?

Such a sweet story! Perfect holiday read. I just love Becky as a character (and can relate to her need to go through all the obstacles just to make the perfect day!). The writing is so sharp and clever and it’s just the perfect cozy book to snuggle with this time of year. I think my favorite characters were the parents moving to a hipster town...all of those conversations cracked me up. Even if you've never read any other of the Shopaholic books you should definitely check this one out if you need a blast of holiday spirit!

My Rating - 4/5


If the Shoe Fits by Julie Murphy


After having just graduated with a degree in shoe design, and trying to get her feet on the ground, Cindy is working for her stepmother, who happens to be the executive producer of America's favorite reality show, Before Midnight. When a spot on the show needs filling ASAP, Cindy volunteers, hoping it might help jump-start her fashion career, or at least give her something to do while her peers land jobs in the world of high fashion.

Turns out being the only plus size woman on a reality dating competition makes a splash, and soon Cindy becomes a body positivity icon for women everywhere. What she doesn't expect? That she may just find inspiration-and love-in the process. Ultimately, Cindy learns that if the shoe doesn't fit, maybe it's time to design your own.

Sweet book and premise…I’m always a sucker for reality tv in a romance novel! Very similar vibes to One to Watch with a few twists. Ending was a little open but otherwise this was a quick and easy read. This was the second book in the series with By The Book above. Can't wait for the third and final in the series to come out next year!

My Rating - 3.5/5


The Holiday Trap by Roan Parrish


Greta Russakoff loves her tight-knit family and tiny Maine hometown, even if they don't always understand what it's like to be a lesbian living in such a small world. She desperately needs space to figure out who she is.

Truman Belvedere has just had his heart crushed into a million pieces when he learned that his boyfriend of almost a year has a secret life that includes a husband and a daughter. Reeling from this discovery, all he wants is a place to lick his wounds far, far away from New Orleans.

Enter Greta and Truman's mutual friend, Ramona, who facilitates a month-long house swap. Over the winter holidays, each of them will have a chance to try on a new life...and maybe fall in love with the perfect partner of their dreams. But all holidays must come to an end, and eventually Greta and Truman will have to decide whether the love they each found so far from home is worth fighting for. 

I loved the premise of this book- The Holiday is one of my favorite movies but in the book the relationships were M-M / F-F. Refreshing and different romance for me to read! Unfortunately that's about all that I liked about the book. I was hoping there would be more holiday in the book (I actually picked this up knowing nothing about it, just thought the cover was cute and saw it recommended on holiday reading roundups). The relationships didn't seem realistic at all to me and just seemed like both characters were going from one codependent / toxic relationship to another with no boundaries or respect for the other people. Also, some of the dialogue was cringggggggggggge, and I hated how the author kept saying "Ash blinked owlishly up at Truman". What a weird descriptor...especially to use so often! I think this had potential, but overall just wasn't for me.

My Rating - 2/5


A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J Maas


Feyre has undergone more trials than one human woman can carry in her heart. Though she’s now been granted the powers and lifespan of the High Fae, she is haunted by her time Under the Mountain and the terrible deeds she performed to save the lives of Tamlin and his people.

As her marriage to Tamlin approaches, Feyre’s hollowness and nightmares consume her. She finds herself split into two different people: one who upholds her bargain with Rhysand, High Lord of the feared Night Court, and one who lives out her life in the Spring Court with Tamlin. While Feyre navigates a dark web of politics, passion, and dazzling power, a greater evil looms. She might just be the key to stopping it, but only if she can harness her harrowing gifts, heal her fractured soul, and decide how she wishes to shape her future—and the future of a world in turmoil.

This is the second book in the A Court of Thorns and Roses series, and OMG this was amazing. There were still a lot of parts that I didn't really understand and kind of skimmed through (the book is also over 600 pages so there was a lot of skimming). But- the story line in general was so much fun to read and discover new worlds in this series. I also loved the main person in this (won't give anything away because there are some big spoilers) but I LOVED him. Loved loved loved. Great dialogue, great action scenes, great romance- what more could you want?! Now I'm just dying to get my hands on the next one because we're left with a HUGE cliffhanger.

My Rating - 4.5/5


The Off Limits Rule by Sarah Adams


I have found rock bottom. It’s here, moving in with my older brother because I’m too broke to afford to live on my own. But that’s okay because we’ve always been close and I think I’m going to have fun living with him again. 
That is until I meet Cooper…

Turns out, my brother has very strong opinions on the idea of me dating his best friend and is dead set against it. According to him, Cooper is everything I should stay away from: flirtatious, adventurous, non-committal, and freaking hot. (I added that last part because I feel like you need the whole picture.) My brother is right, though. I should stay away from Cooper James and his pretty blue eyes. He’s the opposite of what I need right now. Nah—Who am I kidding? I’m going for him.

This book was just what I needed after reading ACOMAF. It was light hearted, sweet, and a cheesy romance. I really liked the main characters and their growing relationship, but was a bit bothered by how insecure Lucy was until Cooper made her feel more beautiful. It was almost like she didn't feel worthy until he came along and that really bothered me! Otherwise though, this was a quick and sweet read.

My Rating - 4/5


Lore Olympus Volume 2 by Rachel Smythe


Persephone was ready to start a new life when she left the mortal realm for Olympus. However, she quickly discovered the dark side of her glamorous new home—from the relatively minor gossip threatening her reputation to a realm-shattering violation of her safety by the conceited Apollo—and she’s struggling to find her footing in the fast-moving realm of the gods. Hades is also off-balance, fighting against his burgeoning feelings for the young goddess of spring while maintaining his lonely rule of the Underworld. As the pair are drawn ever closer, they must untangle the twisted webs of their past and present to build toward a new future.

This was the second volume of a graphic novel that I read earlier this year (since it won the GoodReads award). I really just read this because I was at 89 books for the year and I knew I could finish this in one day. It was easier for me to follow than the first one, but it felt like a middle book where there's not a lot of action and just setting up for the next one. I love the pictures though- they're absolutely beautiful!

My Rating - 3/5

Comments

  1. A degree is shoe design! Man, I love how romance novels have the most ridiculous details.

    Let's talk about Jasmine Guillory, should we? I've only read books from her Wedding Date series and they're absolutely fine, serviceable romance novels, but everyone loves her books so much and I want to know what exactly it is that I'm missing! I mean, I'm not going to read By the Book because it sounds like every other Guillory book out there. *sigh* I want to like things other people like.

    I added The Cheat Sheet to my hold list at the library. Sounds exactly like a fluffy romance I want to read!

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    1. I also think that her books are fine..I like that the characters are more diverse and not the typical people you'll see in a romance novel! But they all kind of end up feeling the same to me after reading a few. If nothing else is looking good at the library I'll pick one up (which is how I ended up with this one!)

      Cheat Sheet is SO cute. I really like that author!

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  2. Lots of books this month! I read Shopaholic books when they first came out and got tired of them but this Christmas one sounds cute!

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    Replies
    1. I was the same, and at the start of the book I thought it was a little juvenile..but something about it being set in Christmas was perfect for the season :)

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