OH HEY LOOK WHO FINALLY MADE IT TO FEBRUARY! I know I shouldn’t be proud of this fact because, like, I’m still a million weeks behind schedule. But here we are.
Anyway. Let’s wrap up January 28th to February 3rd!
Books read: 8
Pages read: 2,386 pages
#1: Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea by April Genevieve Tucholke
Plot summary: A teenage girl is intrigued by the mysterious boy who moves into the granny flat in her back garden. But shit is getting weird in town. Is he maybe the Devil?
Thoughts: This book was literally EVERYWHERE in the bookish community when it came out in 2013. And so of course I bought it on my Kindle and then promptly forgot about it forever and ever. Until this year and my attempt to reread all of the unread things on my Kindle.
And ooh boy, do I wish I’d continued to forget about this one. It’s meant to be a gothic story with fantastical elements and a swoony romance. But I hated every single character in the story. I wasn’t a fan of the writing. There was no swoon at all. It was full of insta-love and a male lead who dresses like he’s from the 1950s and who has a mysterious power that lets him compel people to do his bidding. And apparently his bidding a lot of the time is for Violet to share his bed. Which, OH MY GOD NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.
I didn’t find it creepy or spooky or gothic at all. I just found it to be full of misogyny and slut shaming and really problematic relationships. I honestly do NOT understand why this book was so hyped back in the day, because yikes.
Rating: 1 stars
#2: Mr Darcy’s Bite by Mary Lydon Simonsen (Reread)
Genre: Paranormal romance
Plot summary: Mr Darcy is a werewolf. He wants to tell Elizabeth before he proposes. Will she still love him when she knows he has fur and fangs?
Thoughts: After three 1 star books in less than a week, I was feeling SUPER slumpy and totally unmotivated in terms of reading. So I picked up something I knew would be fast paced and utterly ridiculous. This was the third time I’d read this book. It’s basically fan fic – the author says as much on the first page.
And while the ending sort of trails off awkwardly because the author ran out of ideas, the story as a whole is surprisingly enjoyable. Anne de Bourgh plays a significant and delightful role. There’s some fun insights into the werewolf world as a whole. There’s plenty of sexytimes. And there are a bunch of laugh-out-loud moments. So all in all, I’m calling this a win.
Rating: 4 stars
#3: Let’s Talk About Love by Claire Kann
Plot summary: A bi-romantic asexual black girl deals with her girlfriend dumping her and falling for her new coworker.
Thoughts: I’ve been anticipating this book ever since I heard about it a year or so ago. Everything about it sounded phenomenal to me. I was kind of terrified when the ARCs came out, because there were some very concerning criticisms emerging about the romantic relationship in the story.
But thankfully, it seems like all of those criticisms were taken on board because everything those reviewers discussed seems to have vanished in the finished copy.
This was absolutely adorable from start to finish. Alice is a huge fangirl of a whole lot of stuff that I’m a fangirl of, and I absolutely LOVED her as a protagonist. The friendships and found-family side of things was wonderful. I loved Alice’s struggles between doing what her family expects of her and doing what makes her happy, academically. And the romance was delightful.
It was funny and heartfelt and feelsy and I loved every single second of it. It’s being billed as YA, but I’d probably call it new adult simply because Alice has just finished freshman year of university, but that might just be me.
Rating: 5 stars
#4: Blackout by David Rosenfelt
Plot summary: A cop ends up in a coma while chasing down a suspect, and wakes up ten years later, determined to pick up where he left off.
Thoughts: This was MAJOR struggle bus territory for me. It jumped between first person and third person narratives with a ton of short chapters, which I couldn’t stand. The chapters were so short that it felt like it was cutting between characters constantly without ever providing any depth to the story.
Ultimately, I reached the point where I just didn’t give a shit. I mean, I still finished the book. But I just…didn’t care. I didn’t care about who the villain was. I didn’t care about whether or not the protagonist was going to actually get his memories back. I didn’t care when secondary characters were injured. So the premise was cool. But the execution was…eh.
Rating: 2 stars
#5: The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory
Plot summary: Guy meets girl in a hotel elevator and begs her to be his date to the wedding of his best friend and his ex-girlfriend. Sparks fly.
Thoughts: Okay, so let’s get my little gripe of out of the way first: I hate hate HATE the UK cover for this book. It makes the story look almost juvenile. It certainly makes the story look fluffy and chick-lit-esque and generally lightweight. And this book, while definitely a contemporary romance, is a lot more than this cover makes it look. And I think the black, white and red cover that it got in the US is ten thousand times better.
This was delightful. I loved the elevator meet-cute. And I was obviously going to love this when it features fake!dating because I am traaaaaaaash for fake!dating. The two protagonists were fabulous and I really enjoyed the moments where Drew realised just how many micro-aggressions Alexa deals with on a daily basis, being an African-American woman in a predominantly white environment. The secondary characters were great, and I loved that it dealt with a long distance relationship.
There were certainly odd moments where I wanted to yell at the characters to use their freaking words, but on the whole this was absolutely wonderful from start to finish.
Rating: 4 stars
#6: Kingdom Come by Jane Jensen
Plot summary: A female detective relocates from New York to Amish country Pennsylvania after the death of her husband and finds herself investigating the death of a young girl that may or may not involve the Amish community.
Thoughts: I have to admit, I borrowed this from my local library solely because it’s set in Pennsylvania and therefore let me tick a box for one of my goals. And…I didn’t love it.
I mean, the mystery side of things? I definitely enjoyed that. There was some serious creepiness going on as the story unfolded and plenty of twists that I didn’t see coming. HOWEVER. There was a romance shoe-horned into the plot that was really unnecessary. And it meant that the female protagonist – who’s meant to be a hotshot New York detective – made a string of truly terrible decisions that could have completely destroyed her career and made me want to reach into the book and slap her.
So ultimately, this one balanced out to middle of the road territory.
Rating: 3 stars
#7: Anastasia by Colin Falconer
Genre: Historical fiction
Plot summary: A young reporter in 1920s Shanghai comes across a young woman going by the name of Anastasia Romanov. Is she THE Anastasia?
Thoughts: JFC, this was a giant pile of nope. I gave up on page 124. The first chunk of the book is from the perspective of the Russian royals as they’re imprisoned in Ekaterinberg, and every single one of their personalities went against documented history.
Fast forward to the chunk that takes place in Shanghai, and Anastasia has been forced into sex work by the Chinese triad that brought her into the country. Add in a healthy dose of racism, some badly handled suicidal tendencies, and some unnecessary domestic violence and I noped my way to the exit.
Aaaaaand really, I should have known this would happen because I tried to read another one of Falconer’s books a couple of years ago and hated literally everything about it. So.
#8: Ten Things We Did (And Probably Shouldn’t Have) by Sarah Mlynowski
Plot summary: A teenage girl doesn’t want to move to Cleveland with her dad and stepmother, so she convinces him to let him move in with her best friend and her mother. Except that the best friend’s mother is actually out of state for the next six months…
Thoughts: This one’s set in Connecticut, so it ticked another box. And it was pretty much what I expected it to be – a prime example of why teenagers shouldn’t be given large sums of money with no adult supervision.
Like…April’s dad decides that he’s going to give her $1400 a month – $400 for rent and groceries, $1000 presumably because he feels guilty for bailing on his kid. So obviously she buys a cat and a hot tub and a whole bunch of other crap and generally makes a fuckton of terrible decisions.
There were definitely moments of this that I liked and moments where I felt for April and the fact that her parents basically abandoned her. But OMFG. STOP TRYING TO BE BEST FRIENDS WITH YOUR KID AND BE THEIR FUCKING PARENT INSTEAD. You know??
Rating: 3 stars
What have you been reading recently?