January Reads and Reviews
This was another amazing month of reading for me! I think I've been hibernating a bit in the winter (more on that in my goals post coming soon), and have been plowing through books like never before. It's been fun to escape in other worlds right now! I had some great reads this month, kicked off reading some of the 2022 Goodread Book award winners, and had one big disappointment. Let's get into them!
The Office BFFs by Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey
Note- this won Goodread's Best Humor book of 2022.
Receptionist Pam Beesly and accountant Angela Martin had very little in common when they toiled together at Scranton’s Dunder Mifflin Paper Company. But, in reality, the two bonded in their very first days on set and, over the nine seasons of the series’ run, built a friendship that transcended the show and continues to this day. Sharing everything from what it was like in the early days as the show struggled to gain traction, to walking their first red carpet—plus exclusive stories on the making of milestone episodes and how their lives changed when they became moms—The Office BFFs is full of the same warm and friendly tone Jenna and Angela have brought to their Office Ladies podcast.
I really liked this book! I'm a fan of the Office so hearing the behind the scenes stories was really entertaining. I love any kind of celebrity memoir and this was pretty much the story of Jenna and Angela, as well as a deep look at one of the biggest sitcoms of my lifetime. It was so heartwarming to hear all of the sweet stories of the cast, especially the friendship of Angel and Jenna (although I hate the term BFF so all of that kind of annoyed me after a while). I have to admit I was hoping for a bit more drama instead of everything seeming so perfect for the show. So many funny stories though so I really enjoyed this and want to try out the Office Ladies podcast again (I tried when it first came out and it wasn't for me but now I want to give it another go!)
My Rating - 4/5
The Measure by Nikki Erlick
From suburban doorsteps to desert tents, every person on every continent receives the same box. In an instant, the world is thrust into a collective frenzy. Where did these boxes come from? What do they mean? Is there truth to what they promise?
As society comes together and pulls apart, everyone faces the same shocking choice: Do they wish to know how long they’ll live? And, if so, what will they do with that knowledge?
I feel like I’m in the minority for not liking this, but it just wasn’t what I expected. I thought it would be more about the mystery of where the strings came from and what they mean instead of diving into how humanity looks at mortality. I did like the different characters (for a while I wished they were all random people from all over the world dealing with it in different ways but after a while I liked how all their stories joined together). It was also interesting how an entire new universe was created, with slogans and hashtags- if felt so REAL! But seriously where did the strings come from!?
My Rating - 2.75/5
All I Want for Christmas by Maggie Knox
When Sadie and Max are selected as contestants on the famed reality singing show Starmaker, each thinks they've finally gotten their big Nashville break. But then they're paired up for duet week and stun the world with their romantic onstage chemistry. With fans going wild for #Saxie the network demands that they remain a duo on and offstage, or exit the competition. Faking a relationship until their final performance in the Starmaker holiday special shouldn't be too hard, except for one small problem--Sadie and Max can't stand each other.
But with their dreams just within reach, they agree to the ruse. Will their fake relationship be exposed before they can win? Or will an unexpected trip to Banff spark real feelings by the Christmas finale?
I did not enjoy this book. The premise was interesting to me since I love any stories (and particularly romances) that follow along with a reality show, but this fell flat to me. There were so many tropes in this- enemies to lovers, fake dating, one bed, etc, but it just seemed out of place in this story. The chemistry didn't feel real to me at all, and I didn't particularly like any of the characters. Plus, the sleezy record exec just seemed so over the top- almost like a caricature of a villain. The one part I liked were the scenes at the mountain house- can I live there for a while?
My Rating - 1.5/5
The American Roommate Experiment by Elena Armas
Rosie Graham has a problem. A few, actually. She just quit her well paid job to focus on her secret career as a romance writer. She hasn’t told her family and now has terrible writer’s block. Then, the ceiling of her New York apartment literally crumbles on her. Luckily she has her best friend Lina’s spare key while she’s out of town. But Rosie doesn’t know that Lina has already lent her apartment to her cousin Lucas, who Rosie has been stalking—for lack of a better word—on Instagram for the last few months. Lucas seems intent on coming to her rescue like a Spanish knight in shining armor. Only this one strolls around the place in a towel, has a distracting grin, and an irresistible accent. Oh, and he cooks.
Lucas offers to let Rosie stay with him, at least until she can find some affordable temporary housing. And then he proposes an outrageous experiment to bring back her literary muse and meet her deadline: He’ll take her on a series of experimental dates meant to jump-start her romantic inspiration. Rosie has nothing to lose. Her silly, online crush is totally under control—but Lucas’s time in New York has an expiration date, and six weeks may not be enough, for either her or her deadline.
This was the follow up to one of my favorite rom-com reads last year, The Spanish Deception. This one has similar slow-burn romance, but also has a fake dating aspect that I really enjoyed! I loved the chemistry between characters and it was such a quick and easy read. My only complaint is that after a while the book got repetitive and was pretty predictable.
My Rating - 3.5/5
A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy and Sierra Simone
Bee Hobbes (aka Bianca Von Honey) has a successful career as a plus-size adult film star. With a huge following and two supportive moms, Bee couldn’t ask for more. But when Bee’s favorite producer casts her to star in a Christmas movie he’s making for the squeaky-clean Hope Channel, Bee’s career is about to take a more family-friendly direction.
Forced to keep her work as Bianca under wraps, Bee quickly learns this is a task a lot easier said than done. Though it all becomes worthwhile when she discovers her co-star is none other than childhood crush Nolan Shaw, an ex-boy band member in desperate need of career rehab. Nolan’s promised his bulldog manager to keep it zipped up on set, and he will if it means he’ll be able to provide a more stable living situation for his sister and mom.
But things heat up quickly in Christmas Notch, Vermont, when Nolan recognizes his new co-star from her ClosedDoors account (oh yeah, he’s a member). Now Bee and Nolan are sneaking off for quickies on set, keeping their new relationship a secret from the Hope Channel’s execs. Things only get trickier when the reporter who torpedoed Nolan’s singing career comes snooping around—and takes an instant interest in mysterious newcomer Bee.
And if Bee and Nolan can’t keep their off-camera romance behind the scenes, then this merry little meet cute might end up on the cutting room floor.
My final holiday book of the season, and this was a very unique one! The premise was fun and interesting, and I liked the characters a lot. I also liked the setting and want to see a town that's dedicated to Christmas! One small detail that books like this always bother me with- taking company names that we're used to and changing it slightly (Hope Channel = Hallmark Channel, Closed Door = OnlyFans for example). But- it did feel a bit one-dimensional and predictable to me, but sometimes with a holiday book you need that!
My Rating - 3/5
Hook, Line, and Sinker by Tessa Bailey
King crab fisherman Fox Thornton has a reputation as a sexy, carefree flirt. Everyone knows he's a guaranteed good time--in bed and out--and that's exactly how he prefers it. Until he meets Hannah Bellinger. She's immune to his charm and looks, but she seems to enjoy his... personality? And wants to be friends? Bizarre. But he likes her too much to risk a fling, so platonic pals it is.
Now, Hannah's in town for work, crashing in Fox's spare bedroom. She knows he's a notorious ladies' man, but they're definitely just friends. In fact, she's nursing a hopeless crush on a colleague and Fox is just the person to help with her lackluster love life. Armed with a few tips from Westport's resident Casanova, Hannah sets out to catch her coworker's eye... yet the more time she spends with Fox, the more she wants him instead. As the line between friendship and flirtation begins to blur, Hannah can't deny she loves everything about Fox, but she refuses to be another notch on his bedpost.
Living with his best friend should have been easy. Except now she's walking around in a towel, sleeping right across the hall, and Fox is fantasizing about waking up next to her for the rest of his life and... and... man overboard! He's fallen for her, hook, line, and sinker. Helping her flirt with another guy is pure torture, but maybe if Fox can tackle his inner demons and show Hannah he's all in, she'll choose him instead?
This was the follow up to a book I read a few months ago called It Happened One Summer, but followed the sister (Hannah) and her enemies-to-friends-to-roommates-to-lovers trope with Fox. In some ways I liked this much more- Hannah was a lot more likable to me and I liked her work story line and developing feelings for Fox- but it got to be very repetitive after a while! I liked this a lot overall but it could have been a lot shorter to cut out the same storyline happening over and over.
My Rating - 3.5/5
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
Note- this won Goodread's Best Humor book of 2022.
On a bitter-cold day, in the December of his junior year at Harvard, Sam Masur exits a subway car and sees, amid the hordes of people waiting on the platform, Sadie Green. He calls her name. For a moment, she pretends she hasn't heard him, but then, she turns, and a game begins: a legendary collaboration that will launch them to stardom. These friends, intimates since childhood, borrow money, beg favors, and, before even graduating college, they have created their first blockbuster, Ichigo. Overnight, the world is theirs. Not even twenty-five years old, Sam and Sadie are brilliant, successful, and rich, but these qualities won't protect them from their own creative ambitions or the betrayals of their hearts.
Spanning thirty years, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Venice Beach, California, and lands in between and far beyond, Gabrielle Zevin's Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow is a dazzling and intricately imagined novel that examines the multifarious nature of identity, disability, failure, the redemptive possibilities in play, and above all, our need to connect: to be loved and to love. Yes, it is a love story, but it is not one you have read before.
This was my book club's January pick, and I heard so many great things about it that I was really excited to read it, but unfortunately I ended up disliking it! I think I had too high of expectations going in, which skewed my opinions from the start. Without giving too much away, I didn't like the dynamic between the two main characters and thought it was really toxic! It also brought up a lot of memories of being in similar programming classes in college (and also highlighted the reason I didn't want to go down that path). The book felt so long and wasn't enjoyable to me.
My Rating - 2/5
Every Summer After by Carley Fortune
They say you can never go home again, and for Persephone Fraser, ever since she made the biggest mistake of her life a decade ago, that has felt too true. Instead of glittering summers on the lakeshore of her childhood, she spends them in a stylish apartment in the city, going out with friends, and keeping everyone a safe distance from her heart.
Until she receives the call that sends her racing back to Barry’s Bay and into the orbit of Sam Florek—the man she never thought she’d have to live without.
For six summers, through hazy afternoons on the water and warm summer nights working in his family’s restaurant and curling up together with books—medical textbooks for him and work-in-progress horror short stories for her—Percy and Sam had been inseparable. Eventually that friendship turned into something breathtakingly more, before it fell spectacularly apart.
When Percy returns to the lake for Sam’s mother’s funeral, their connection is as undeniable as it had always been. But until Percy can confront the decisions she made and the years she’s spent punishing herself for them, they’ll never know whether their love might be bigger than the biggest mistakes of their past.
I absolutely love a dual timeline book, especially when it deals with second-chance romance. This was such an easy book to read and made me miss summer- especially wishing that I had a beach house with a cute neighbor growing up! The ending was a little disappointing to me- the twist was pretty obvious and the resolution was way too quick and tidy for me to make it seem realistic. But- perfect beach read if you're looking to add one to your list for this year.
My Rating - 4/5
Daisy Darker by Alice Feeney
After years of avoiding each other, Daisy Darker’s entire family is assembling for Nana’s 80th birthday party in Nana’s crumbling gothic house on a tiny tidal island. Finally back together one last time, when the tide comes in, they will be cut off from the rest of the world for eight hours.
The family arrives, each of them harboring secrets. Then at the stroke of midnight, as a storm rages, Nana is found dead. And an hour later, the next family member follows…
Trapped on an island where someone is killing them one by one, the Darkers must reckon with their present mystery as well as their past secrets, before the tide comes in and all is revealed.
This book was very confusing for me. I absolutely loved Rock Paper Scissors by the author, and was expecting a lot when I read reviews for this one. It definitely had me flying through pages to figure out what was happening, but it also just felt so weird to me the entire time. The twist also felt wrong to me- I hate it when the author purposefully misleads you for some random twist that doesn't really make sense. I think this would be good around Halloween since it definitely has spooky vibes, but it just didn't hit for me.
My Rating - 2.5/5
The Princess Trap by Talia Hibbert - I really wish I didn't listen to this on audiobook, because the voices absolutely killed it for me. This wasn't my favorite romance but the plot was pretty fun and different. I also like how Talia's characters are always more realistic and relatable instead of being perfect specimens with no flaws.
Ear Hustle by Nigel Poor and Earlonne Woods - I've listened to the Ear Hustle podcast ever since it started, and I really enjoyed this book. It follows how Nigel and Earlonne both found themselves at San Quentin State Prison, and how the podcast got its start. There are also stories from inmates, ex-convicts, and their families. It's really eye-opening to hear these stories and challenge some assumptions and judgements I've made in the past. I definitely recommend listening to this one- hearing Nigel and Earlonne reading definitely adds something extra, and the stories come to life when they're being said out loud.
Getting Ear Hustle as an audiobook is GENIUS. I listen to that podcast and never even considered it! I just placed a hold on it at through my library. I imagine it will just seem like an extended podcast episode.ReplyDelete
I have Tomorrow x3 on my shelf right now and I'm hearing such mixed things about it. I can't tell - on one hand, it seems like it might have a lot of annoying tropes, but on the other hand, it seems like exactly might kind of read. We'll see!
Most people like Tomorrow so you should try it! I think most people in my book club enjoyed it, so I'm the odd one out. Let me know what you think if you end up reading!Delete