February Reads and Reviews

February was another great month for reading- I listened to more audiobooks than usual because I had a lot of travel this month, but also read a decent amount of physical books as well. A lot of them were for book club and most of them I enjoyed! Here's a look at what all I read-


The Dead Romantics by Ashley Poston

Florence Day is the ghostwriter for one of the most prolific romance authors in the industry, and she has a problem—after a terrible breakup, she no longer believes in love. It’s as good as dead.

When her new editor, a too-handsome mountain of a man, won’t give her an extension on her book deadline, Florence prepares to kiss her career goodbye. But then she gets a phone call she never wanted to receive, and she must return home for the first time in a decade to help her family bury her beloved father.

For ten years, she’s run from the town that never understood her, and even though she misses the sound of a warm Southern night and her eccentric, loving family and their funeral parlor, she can’t bring herself to stay. Even with her father gone, it feels like nothing in this town has changed. And she hates it.

Until she finds a ghost standing at the funeral parlor’s front door, just as broad and infuriatingly handsome as ever, and he’s just as confused about why he’s there as she is.

This was both of my book clubs' February pick, and it was one that I heard a lot about last year and was excited to read. I didn't really enjoy it though- I found the main character to be really frustrating and lazy, and also unprofessional (after meeting her new boss, she runs into him at a club and makes out with him. What!?). I liked the ending and how the twist tied in, but overall didn't like this. On a plus side, I found it really easy to read, so if ghosts with a bit of romance sounds like something you'd be interested in I think you'd like it.

My Rating - 2/5



Beach Read by Emily Henry

Augustus Everett is an acclaimed author of literary fiction. January Andrews writes bestselling romance. When she pens a happily ever after, he kills off his entire cast.

They’re polar opposites.

In fact, the only thing they have in common is that for the next three months, they're living in neighboring beach houses, broke, and bogged down with writer's block.

Until, one hazy evening, one thing leads to another and they strike a deal designed to force them out of their creative ruts: Augustus will spend the summer writing something happy, and January will pen the next Great American Novel. She’ll take him on field trips worthy of any rom-com montage, and he’ll take her to interview surviving members of a backwoods death cult (obviously). Everyone will finish a book and no one will fall in love. Really.

After reading and loving Emily Henry's other books (People We Meet on Vacation and Book Lovers) I was really excited to read this one! It was my least favorite of the three but still really enjoyable to read. I just found it to be really repetitive and felt too long, but still loved the chemistry and relationship between Gus and January. Plus, who doesn't like an enemies-to-lovers storyline?

My Rating - 3/5



A Flicker in the Dark by Stacy Willingham

When Chloe Davis was twelve, six teenage girls went missing in her small Louisiana town. By the end of the summer, Chloe’s father had been arrested as a serial killer and promptly put in prison. Chloe and the rest of her family were left to grapple with the truth and try to move forward while dealing with the aftermath.

Now 20 years later, Chloe is a psychologist in private practice in Baton Rouge and getting ready for her wedding. She finally has a fragile grasp on the happiness she’s worked so hard to get. Sometimes, though, she feels as out of control of her own life as the troubled teens who are her patients. And then a local teenage girl goes missing, and then another, and that terrifying summer comes crashing back. Is she paranoid, and seeing parallels that aren't really there, or for the second time in her life, is she about to unmask a killer?

This is another book club pick (sometimes you have to get it when you can from the library to stay on track, so I'm very early for this one!) and I really liked it. I don't read a lot of thrillers and I think if I did, this one would be a very formulaic story, but I loved it. There was so much tension in the entire story and I couldn't stop turning pages and staying up late to finish. I liked the twist and was starting to guess what was happening but still got a little surprised. Loved it!

My Rating - 4/5



Love and Other Words by Christina Lauren

Macy Sorensen is settling into an ambitious if emotionally tepid routine: work hard as a new pediatrics resident, plan her wedding to an older, financially secure man, keep her head down and heart tucked away.

But when she runs into Elliot Petropoulos—the first and only love of her life—the careful bubble she’s constructed begins to dissolve. Once upon a time, Elliot was Macy’s entire world—growing from her gangly bookish friend into the man who coaxed her heart open again after the loss of her mother...only to break it on the very night he declared his love for her.

Told in alternating timelines between Then and Now, teenage Elliot and Macy grow from friends to much more—spending weekends and lazy summers together in a house outside of San Francisco devouring books, sharing favorite words, and talking through their growing pains and triumphs. As adults, they have become strangers to one another until their chance reunion. Although their memories are obscured by the agony of what happened that night so many years ago, Elliot will come to understand the truth behind Macy’s decade-long silence, and will have to overcome the past and himself to revive her faith in the possibility of an all-consuming love.

Book club pick #3 for the month! As opposed to A Flicker in the Dark, I got this one from the library just two days before we were meeting to discuss, and luckily this was a very quick and easy read. It reminded me a lot of Every Summer After (second chance romance with a vacation home bestie-turned-love interest) and was hard for me to stay interested at the beginning. But- it changed quickly and I really got into it. I think I liked this one a bit more because of the characters, but preferred the setting and writing in Every Summer After. I wouldn't recommend reading these close together since they are really similar, but they're book great easy reads!

My Rating - 4/5



Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus


Note- this won GoodRead's Best Debut Novel of 2022.

Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.

But like science, life is unpredictable. Which is why a few years later Elizabeth Zott finds herself not only a single mother, but the reluctant star of America’s most beloved cooking show Supper at Six. Elizabeth’s unusual approach to cooking (“combine one tablespoon acetic acid with a pinch of sodium chloride”) proves revolutionary. But as her following grows, not everyone is happy. Because as it turns out, Elizabeth Zott isn’t just teaching women to cook. She’s daring them to change the status quo.

I feel bad for not liking another popular book from last year, but this one wasn't for me. I found the subject matter really hard to enjoy (lots of blatant sexism, sexual assault, tragedy, etc) and also found the characters to be over the top and unbelievable. I thought it dragged on and was way longer than it needed to be. While I loved the concept of female empowerment and breaking barriers, it just fell a little flat for me.

My Rating - 3/5


Audiobooks

One Italian Summer by Rebecca Serle  - This was such a great book to listen to on a long drive. The narrator was Lauren Graham (from Gilmore Girls and Parenthood) and was very easy to listen to. The relationship between the main character and her mother was a little odd to me and too codependent, but I loved the setting and hearing all about Italy. There were some twists along the way (which I've come to expect with Rebecca Serle) but it was overall a fun read.

Counterfeit by Kirstin Chen  - I also enjoyed listening to this on a drive and while traveling in February. It was a very fast paced almost-thriller about the conterfeit bag market in California and China. It was really interesting with twists and turns but ended up being a bit disappointing to me overall. It was good, but not great.

The Wife Upstairs by Racchel Hawkins  - This book was definitely firmly in the thriller category and was also a great listen! I liked the narrator a lot and kept finding excuses to listen to this to figure out what's happening. The ending was a bit weird for me but overall I thought this was a really fun thriller.

Comments

  1. The Dead Romantics! So unprofessional! Just DO YOUR JOB! Or at least TELL THEM what's going on. Sheesh. I also hated the ending of that book.

    I found myself nodding at so many of your reviews - Beach Read (love the Lake Michigan setting, but other than that pretty meh) - but I'm surprised you didn't enjoy Lessons in Chemistry. I think the cover is pretty misleading because it's all cartoonish and looks like it will be a fun read and it does good dark pretty quickly, but I liked it a lot more than you did!

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    Replies
    1. I know right?! I get she had a bad breakup but still....made me so angry haha! And then it all just magically worked out for her.

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