January Book Wrap-Up


This year I've decided to try and do a book wrap-up each month, now, it's probably an overreach and I will likely fail after this month. But.. let's pretend. This month I read a total of 10 books, most of which were thrillers/mysteries thanks to the #Buzzword readathon (We had to read books with Lie/Lying/Liars in the title for 7 days.). I'm going to be honest, I don't think I had a great reading month. 10 isn't a lot for me and a little under half of the books wound up being meh, which did put me into a slump, but this happens and we can only hope that next month will be better. Yay for positivity.

This Is How It Always Is
by Laurie Frankel

“How did you teach your small human that it’s what’s inside that counts when the truth was everyone was pretty preoccupied with what you put on over the outside too?” 

When Rosie and Penn and their four boys welcome the newest member of their family, no one is surprised it's another baby boy. At least their large, loving, chaotic family knows what to expect. But Claude is not like his brothers. One day he puts on a dress and refuses to take it off. He wants to bring a purse to kindergarten. He wants hair long enough to sit on. When he grows up, Claude says, he wants to be a girl. Rosie and Penn aren't panicked at first. Kids go through phases, after all, and make-believe is fun. But soon the entire family is keeping Claude's secret. Until one day it explodes.

Over the past 12 months, I've discovered my love for domestic fiction. More specifically, fiction that covers hard-hitting topics. I'm a firm believer in educating yourself through other peoples worlds, and though Frankel says Claude's story isn't a reflection on her daughters own transgender journey, you can't help but feel that her own personal account has helped aid in this book's tone.

Despite the synopsis, this isn't a book about the parents coming to terms with their child's choice. It's instead a story of a mother and father doing everything they can to make life as easy as possible for their youngest. I liked that about this, similarly with Simon vs. The Homosapiens Agenda, Claude never once feels as though he can't be open around his family. I've read a fair amount of LGBTQ+ books, both YA and Adult, and I can appreciate these two specific novels for not making it into a huge drama-sentric story. We need more of this. Books that neither downplay or vastly over exaggerate something that many people go through.

This is also a Reese Witherspooon book club pick, so.. you know it's going to be good and probably make you cry.

Rating: ★★★★★

by Caroline Kepnes

“The only thing crueler than a cage so small that a bird can’t fly is a cage so large that a bird thinks it can fly.” 

When Beck walks into the bookstore Joe works, he becomes infatuated with her. Within a few weeks he has forced his way into her daily life. But can a relationship pan out when you merge together a narcissist and a stalker?

This is of course the book that inspired the Netflix You series. I have actually written up an entire review for this so click HERE if you'd like a more thorough review. But to summarise, it was not at all what I was expecting. Think way too OTT and some of the most dislikable characters I've ever had the displeasure of reading. Yay.

Rating: ★★

10 Days In A Madhouse
by Nellie Bly

“It is only after one is in trouble that one realizes how little sympathy and kindness there are in the world.”

When Nellie Bly took the assignment of exposing a mental institution for their mistreating of female patients in 1887, she took it one step further by getting herself committed for 10 days.

It's always really hard for me to review non-fiction books as I can always respect them for what they are meant to be, but sometimes they are just a little.. lacking. Because lets face it, reading a novel that's compiled of multiple articles can be pretty darn dense. It's a completely different experience than reading fast-paced fiction. '10 Days' was really interesting, but it was a little dryer than I was expecting. But still, I'm glad I read it and it is a story that I think a lot more people should be familiar with. Not only was Nellie Bly one of the first female reporters to cover a story of such magnitude, but she was a brilliant woman who wanted to help. If this book doesn't interest you, I at least urge you to give THIS piece on Nellie a read.

Rating: ★★★

The Perfect Girl
by Gilly Macmillan

“At home, in the empty flat, I wish more than anything that I had somebody who would come home to me tonight, somebody I could tell, somebody who would be with me through it to the end.” 

One night 14 year old Zoey was involved in a tragic accident that resulted in the death of three classmates. She was convicted in their deaths and spent eighteen months in jail. Three years later, her and her mum have built new lives for themselves with rich guy Chris and Lucas, his teenage son. Bu one fatal night, her mother turns up dead in the shed (kind of just wanted to write it that way to rhyme.. not going to lie.). Can Zoey figure out what happened before she's wrongly accused?

This was one of those books for me that I enjoyed while reading, but once it sat with me for a while, I started to hate it. So, I don't know where to stand. The overall story is okay, as is the "twist" at the end that usually comes with a thriller. It wasn't unrealistic or plain stupid. I even liked the characters. My problem was with the writing layout. First off, there are way too many character POV's in this. Some that were not necessary for the story whatsoever. Secondly, there is a lot of forced "romance", weird couplings that weren't needed for the story. There were also some basic as hell plot holes such as "oh no! I need to download this file to find out something for the plot but the wifi is sooo slow for some weird reason". This was a way better read than You, so.. yeah. It wasn't bad, but don't expect great things. I'm really not selling this, am I?

Rating: ★★★

One Of Us Is Lying
by Karen M. McManias

“I guess we're almost friends now, or as friendly as you can get when you're not one hundred percent sure the other person isn't framing you for murder.” 

Five teenagers from different cliques find themselves all at detention at the same time. They think it's just a random prank until one of them ends up dead.

A lot of reviews for this call it a mix between Pretty Little Liars and The Breakfast Club. I fully agree with this. We have the stereotypes, the possible murder, and the predictability. I liked this but it was exactly what I was expecting from a YA thriller. If you like thrillers that aren't scary, have a little romance, and are quick to read, then this would be for you. For myself, it was just a little too slow and simple.

Rating: ★★★

Big Little Lies
by Liane Moriarty

“She’d swallowed it whole and pretended it meant nothing, and therefore it had come to mean everything.” 

At heart, this is a book about the obstacles that women go through in their 20's and 30's. We have a single mother, a woman with a seemingly perfect life, and a mother going through the trouble of shared custody with her ex husband. But if you go by synopsis's alone, this is a "who did it? what happened?" thing after a murder takes place.

I did not expect to love this book as much as I did, in fact, I'd go as far as to say that this would make it onto my favourite books of all time list. I've always loved Liane Moriarty's writing, this would be the third book of hers that I've picked up in the last 12 months and all of them have been great. But alas, this one went onto the backburner for me after all the hype. I know, I'm an idiot. Even if domestic fiction isn't your usual genre, or even mysteries, I'd suggest you give this a go. It's surprisingly witty and you'll grow to adore all the characters.

Rating: ★★★★★

Sometimes I Lie
by Alice Feeney

“We are all made of flesh and stars, but we all become dust in the end. Best to shine while you can.” 

"One day, you're going to wake up in a coma." wait.. no, that's a line from Buffy. This one is about a woman that wakes up locked inside her mind, in a coma. How did she get there? That is the million dollar question. Read to find out.

I'll hand-on-heart say that I only picked this up because of Sarah Michele Gellar's announcement that her and Ellen DeGeneres are making this into a mini-series. And.. I'm really disappointed. This was one weird book. The overall story was good, but there were just too many weird moments to look past. Huge trigger warning for sexual assault. But if we're just looking at the plot, meh. I guessed the end at around 35% of the book. And I honestly can't remember a single character's name without Google.

Rating: ★★★

The Last Time I Lied
by Riley Sager

“Everything is a game, Em. Whether you know it or not. Which means that sometimes a lie is more than just a lie. Sometimes it's the only way to win.”

It was Emma's first summer away from home. She made friends. She played games. And she learned how to lie. Then three of her new friends went into the woods and never returned. Now, years later, Emma has been asked to go back to the newly re-opened Camp Nightingale. She thinks she's laying old ghosts to rest but really she's returning to the scene of a crime. Because Emma's innocence might be the biggest lie of all.

I haven't read Final Girls which is arguably Riley's more popular novel, but nevertheless this was a great introduction into the author. This was hands-down the best thriller I read this month. Our protagonist was actually not a complete idiot, and I didn't guess the ending. Yay. This also had a heavy-female cast, which is always a good thing.

Rating: ★★★★

My Grandmother Asked Me To Tell You She's Sorry
by Frerdrik Backman

“Only different people change the world,” Granny used to say. “No one normal has ever changed a crapping thing.” 

Sent to deliver letters to the people in her apartment complex, seven-year-old Elsa begins to find out more about her Grandmother's life than she expected.

I adore Fredrick Backman's books. Translated from Swedish, his novels have a tendency to be character studies and delve into mental health. I urge you to read Beartown, which is a favourite of mine, but this is also a good one to start with. I grew to adore Elsa and Britt-Marie (who has a spin-off book called Britt-Marie Was Here which is high on my TBR) in fact, I grew to love all the characters. The only downside for me was a world that Elsa and her Grandmother invented, the Land-of-Almost-Awake and the Kingdom of Miamas, where everybody is different and nobody needs to be normal. Similar to Fangirl, we have entire paragraphs based in this magical world, which had a tenancy to suck me out of the main story. That is the only reason why this wasn't a 5-star read.

Rating: ★★★★

Little Bee
by Chris Cleave

Sad words are just another beauty. A sad story means, this storyteller is alive. The next thing you know something fine will happen to her, something marvelous, and then she will turn around and smile.

This is a dual narrative story about a Nigerian asylum-seeker and a British magazine editor, who meet during the oil conflict in the Niger Delta, and are re-united in England several years later.

This was the surprising pick of the month. Going into it, I didn't know what to expect and after the first few really long and really slow chapters, I was ready to give up. But yay for not quitting. This story is beautiful, made even more beautiful by the characters. If you enjoy learning about culture and have the stomach to read the horrific ordeals women can go through. Our protagonist Little Bee manages to view Britian in such a glorious light, you cant help but fall for her. Trigger warning for sexual assault.

Rating: ★★★★

What have you read during the month of January? What are you hoping to get to in February? Let me know! 

PS: What do you think of the little book snippets that I've put before each synopsis..? I've found that I'm way more likely to pick up a book if I read a quote or paragraph from it that's enjoyable. Yay or nay?

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