Back at It Again With More Books 📚
Well, you might've noticed I've been radio silent on this blog for a few months, and there's a good reason for it. I got married on March 25, and between planning a wedding, actually having a wedding, and recovering from a wedding, I've been a little busy.
Now, I'm working on a lengthy recap with everything I learned from our wedding, but while you're waiting (on pins and needles, I'm sure) for that to be ready, here's a classic book post to tide you over.
I've been doing a lot of reading this year, and I'm on track to surpass my record from last year. So instead of waiting until the end of this year for a reading recap, I decided to break it down into smaller sections throughout the year. So for the first quarter of this year, here's what I've been reading so far.
You can break down all of the books I've read so far this year into four categories: Fluffy Rom Coms, Twisty Thrillers, Reflective Memoirs and Hearty Fiction. You already know what you like and what you don't like, so click on one of those titles to skip ahead to that section. Or, if you're like me and enjoy a little bit of everything, feel free to read this post in its entirety.
Fluffy Rom Coms
I started this year with a series of fluffy romantic novels, and all year long I've been enjoying more than my normal amount of happier, romantic books this year. I think I like thrillers and romance novels for the same reasons, they have the ability to transport you and hook you from the start until you're flying through each page just to find out how it all ends up.
Favorite Fluffy Rom Com: People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry
According to TikTok, everyone read Beach Read by Emily Henry and loved it, and I was no exception. Of course, I had to read more by the author and picked up People We Meet on Vacation, and loved it even more. I love both romance novels and thrillers, but sometimes both genres have a tendency to create one-dimensional, unbelievable characters that just serve the purpose of the plot. What I love about both of Emily Henry's novels is her ability to create complex, interesting and realistic characters with believable relationships. You will root for these couples because she's given you countless reasons to believe they'll work out in the end, instead of just moving the plot forward.
Others in this category:
The Plight Before Christmas by Kate Stewart Quick Review: Your classic we-used-to-know-each-other-but-now-we-hate-each-other plot with a warm and fuzzy Christmas-themed love story ending. Cute but nothing special. ⭐ 3.5 stars
The Royal We and The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan Quick Review: If the stories of Kate and William + Harry and Meghan were melted together and heavily fictionalized. A sweet two-book series that dragged a bit in places but was overall very well-done and enjoyable. ⭐ 4 stars
Always Only You by Chloe Liese Quick Review: The social media manager of a professional hockey team falls for the star player. Another cute but nothing special. ⭐ 3.5 stars
Beach Read by Emily Henry As I mentioned earlier, I loved this book. Two very complex, layered characters who fall in love in an interesting way. Another we-used-to-know-each-other-but-now-we-hate-each-other plot trope, but done way better than The Plight Before Christmas. ⭐ 4 stars
The Proposal by Jasmine Guillory Our main character rejects a proposal on the big screen at a baseball game and becomes instantly hated, but a handsome stranger saves her from an angry crowd. I wanted to like this book, but I just didn't find the characters to be well-developed, and I just wasn't even rooting for these two to get together. But it was a cute read, good for a beach trip. ⭐ 3.5 stars
Yes, my favorite of all genres. I absolutely love, LOVE, a thriller with a twist ending that I didn't see coming. All the books listed below will keep you hooked until the last page.
Favorite Twisty Thriller: Unmissing by Minka Kent
There were a few books in this category that I liked enough to list as a favorite, but this one beat them out just slightly! In this novel, a newly married young woman goes missing just a few months after her wedding day. Her husband leads a search for her for years, but eventually she is declared dead and her town moves on. Her husband remarries and is starting a family with his new wife when suddenly his former wife returns, having escaped a captor after being held and tortured for years. Besides the insane twists in this novel, it really leaves you asking -- how long would you wait if your spouse disappeared? And what would you do if they came back? I read this all in one day, it was all-consuming and the end left me reeling!
Others in this category:
True Crime Story by Joseph Knox A Christmas gift from my little brother, this was another contender for favorite in the category! The book has a fascinating premise where the author inserts himself into the story, and it's written almost as if it was a real story. The story follows a reporter who is investigating an old cold-case murder, and the ending will leave you with more questions than answers. I loved this book! ⭐ 4.5 stars
Reckless Girls by Rachel Hawkins A group of young people decide to spend a few days vacationing on a deserted island that is rumored to be haunted, and of course things go south from there. I found that the beginning part of the novel dragged a little while the ending was fairly rushed, but overall I enjoyed the plot. There were so many questions and mysteries in this book, it will keep you turning the pages. ⭐ 4 stars
The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine A mysterious woman inserts herself into a rich family's life with the explicit goal of trying to steal the husband. There are questions about her past and her motives, but the current husband and wife seem oblivious to her true intentions. This novel will leave you feeling like you've had the rug pulled out from under you -- just when you think you've figured it out, you'll realize you have no idea what's going on. It definitely could've been shorter, some parts were tough to get through, but overall a good read. ⭐ 3.5 stars
The Dry by Jane Harper I really enjoyed this book. It follows a federal investigator who returns to his hometown (a place he's reluctant to return to) to find himself investigating what appears to be a straightforward murder-suicide. It's a classic whodunit, but it investigates both the past and the present, with some great twists along the way. You won't be able to guess the ending, but you will enjoy the ride. ⭐ 4 stars
Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson Many years ago, our main character Malcom wrote a blog post detailing the eight perfect murders from fiction for his job at a book store. Now, he's the owner of the same store, and there seems to be a murderer out there who is following the list her wrote years earlier. This book was enjoyable, not my favorite of the bunch and I'm not sure how I feel about the ending! ⭐ 3.5 stars
Verity by Coleen Hoover Verity is... meh. I just didn’t seem to love this as much as so many others did. It read like a first draft of a book with a great premise that wasn’t fully fleshed out. The main character was extremely one-dimensional, and didn’t read as a real human person to me. I definitely couldn’t put it down because I wanted to figure out what was going on, but I just didn’t enjoy it in the end. ⭐ 2 stars
The Chain by Adrian McKinty Another book where I loved the premise, but I wasn't sure about the execution. The chain is essentially a kidnapping MLM where a woman finds out her daughter has been kidnapped and won't be freed until she pays a ransom, kidnaps someone else's loved one, and forces them to do the same. It's interesting, but I found parts of it to be unbelievable and required some suspension of disbelief. ⭐ 3.5 stars
The Wife Stalker by Liv Constantine The Wife Stalker has one of the craziest twists on this list, but similarly to The Last Mrs. Parrish by the same author, I found that it dragged a little unnecessarily. A woman with an idyllic life suddenly finds herself kicked out of her home, divorced from her husband, and with a restraining order preventing her from ever seeing her children. It's another twist that will totally shock you, and make you want to go back and see what you missed the first time. Unfortunately, I didn't think the writing was anything amazing. ⭐ 3.5 stars
The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave Hannah is home alone when she receives a note from her husband which reads, "Protect Her." Soon, she finds out his company is implicated in a major federal investigation, and he is nowhere to be found. She's left with his 16-year-old daughter, her stepdaughter, who really doesn't care for Hannah much at all. I really enjoyed this book, and read it in one afternoon because it was that riveting. I loved the mystery, but more importantly, I loved the emotions and relationships of the characters living the mystery. ⭐ 4 stars
The Wives by Tarryn Fisher I did not enjoy this book. As much as I love a twist, I don't like a twist just for the twist's sake. The twist ending of this book was so unbelievable, it made me dislike the whole book. A good thriller should leave you shocked, but it should still make sense when you look back and think about it. This book did nothing of the sort. ⭐ 2 stars
I'm not a huge nonfiction fan, but a few books sneak in here and there.
Favorite Reflective Memoir: Educated by Tara Westover
So many people have recommended this book to me over the years, but I finally got around to reading it a few months ago. I couldn't put it down. Tara has the ability to write her own life story in a manner that reads like a gripping work of fiction, except it's all true (Note: some events have been contested by the author's family, but that does make sense when you consider the content that doesn't paint them in the most flattering light).
Others in this category:
Miss Me With That by Rachel Lindsey I didn't watch Rachel's season of The Bachelorette when it aired, but I became a fan of hers through her podcast with Van Lathan, Higher Learning, and have since also binged her Bachelorette season. I typically don't love celebrity memoirs or personal essays, but I loved this book. Rachel was honest about her life --- both by sharing vulnerable stories from her life and by being honest about her own shortcomings and flaws. If you're at all a fan of Rachel or The Bachelorette, I would highly recommend picking up this book! ⭐ 4.5 stars
Last but not least, here's some books that are general fiction, full of heart, and that didn't quite fit into the other categories. There's some great books in this category, so I'm glad you made it this far!
Favorite Hearty Fiction: Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkis Reid This category, more than the rest, is full of books that I absolutely loved. But, Daisy Jones & The Six surpasses them all. I listened to the audio version of this book, and I think that's probably the best way to experience this novel. Written as interviews with the members of the musical group Daisy Jones & The Six, this book goes back in time to reflect on the rise and fall of the band. Each of the group's members has their own perspective on events, and a story emerges filled with passion, love, hate, family and a lot of music. I can't recommend this book more highly.
Others in this category:
What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty The book begins when Alice falls off of her bike in a spin class and hits her head so hard she forgets the last decade of her life. When she comes to in the hospital, she thinks she's a newly wed, madly in love with her new husband. She quickly learns she now has two kids and is separated from her husband for reasons she can't seem to decipher. I really enjoyed this book, it was so compelling to think about what might happen if you were able to look at your own life with fresh eyes. ⭐ 4 stars
The Glass Hotel by Emily St. John Mandel I picked up this book because I was such a big fan of the author's previous novel, Station Eleven (now streaming on HBO Max *wink*). I didn't enjoy this one quite as much, but I really the author's style and her ability to weave together many different characters and still make them individually interesting. It took a little while for the central conflict to unfold, but once it did I was truly hooked. ⭐ 4 stars
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid Obviously, I love Taylor Jenkis Reid, and I loved this book almost as much as Daisy Jones & The Six. Mega-famous actress Evelyn Hugo was married seven times, but now lives a reclusive life alone and away from the spotlight. In her old age, she approaches a young journalist and asks her to write her story, for the first time. As it turns out, the official story barely scratched the surface of what was really going on in Evelyn Hugo's life, and the truth is far more interesting. ⭐ 5 stars
The Thursday Murder Club A group of nursing home residents meet every week to try to solve murders, bringing together a lovely cast of characters that weave together two mysteries separated by decades. It sounds like it would be a twisty thriller, but it's more just a really lovely story. ⭐ 4 stars
Love and Other Words Maybe I'm biased to love this book, because parts of the love story are similar to my own. Love and Other Words takes place in the past, following two kids who grow up, become best friends and fall in love. It also flashes forward to the present, ten years after they last saw each other and the pair are no longer in each others' lives. This story was so beautiful, and shows how two people can come back together after years of misunderstandings and hurt. I was sobbing at the end of this book, so fair warning, but it was so good! ⭐ 4.5 stars
Phew. I didn't realize how long it would take to write this post, but I enjoyed every minute of it. And I hope you did too!
If you made it this far, thank you for reading! Leave a comment and let me know what you're reading, or which of these books you'll be adding to your TBR list. Until next time!