It’s my favorite post of the month!
Today is my JANUARY 2021 BOOK REVIEW and just like every January, it’s EXTRA-BIG!!
I always share my December Book Review with you guys mid-December which means, by the time I get around to this post here, I’m reviewing not only the books I read in January, but the last few I read in December too. This month, I have EIGHT BOOKS to review.
This time though, I thought I would kick off the year by reading a variety of genres. You guys know how much I love reading those chick lit books, but I really, really tried to diversify for our first book review this year. I read a memoir, a thriller, a heavy fictional story, a lifestyle book, a faith-based book, one regular ole chick lit book plus two different third books in two different series. Eight books, all a little different, some I loved, some I didn’t and something different for everyone.
Grab your coffee, settle in, it’s book review time, friends!
The first book I’m reviewing is the third and final installment of Elin Hilderbrand’s Winter in Paradise series called Troubles in Paradise. Let’s recap my thoughts on the first two books: Elin Hilderbrand is my very favorite author, but these are my least favorite books that she has written. Sigh. In this third installment, we finally wrap up the story. If you read the other two books, you should read this one as it ties up every loose end. I did love how the book ended (it gave me the happy feels), but I thought for a three book series, it all wrapped up in one paragraph very abruptly without a lot of pomp and circumstance. I love, love, love Elin Hilderbrand’s storytelling, but I just did not enjoy this series. I didn’t find most of the characters likable, didn’t really care about the people whose death we were trying to figure out (they didn’t feel likable at all), and was just completely underwhelmed by each book. And for the one millionth time, I’m going to say that there’s nothing “wintery” about these stories so I’m still confused by the emphasis on that in the title of the series. There. I’m done. I didn’t love this book but you should all go read her novel that was published this last year, 28 Summers, because it was perfection.
The second book I read this month was the number one suggestion from you guys at the end of last year. I read A Good Neighborhood and let me tell you…up until the last like three pages, I was convinced it would be my favorite book of 2021. I absolutely loved this story…but I didn’t like how it ended, so I’ll tell you right now, it will not be in my top three this year. This fictional story is about two sets of neighbors and how life unfolds next door to each other when their teenage children get involved. I could not put this book down. One morning, I was up at 4:30 just to read this book. I was totally engrossed in the story, in the characters, in the conflict…it’s so layered, so relevant, so poignant and thought provoking. I was riveted and on the edge of my seat as these neighbors, who are very different in race, socioeconomic status, education, marital status, life experiences, beliefs, values…so different, handled conflict and life as next door neighbors. This book is brilliant and I wrote in my notes “would make the perfect book club read this year”. Even though I disliked the ending and found it disappointing to the story, I wanted to talk to people about it. I wanted to bounce it off my friends…it would be a great discussion novel. It was an emotional rollercoaster from beginning to end and even though I’m not going to name it in my top three (I did not love that ending), I highly recommend it and think all of you should read it. I am going to say it’s PG-13ish…the F word is used a few times, but other than that, I didn’t the content was too mature. Read it. Tell me what you think.
The third book I read this month was Michael J. Fox’s latest memoir No Time Like the Future and friends, I loved it!!! Out of all of the books I read this month, this one was the one I probably talked the most about with my friends and Andrew. I didn’t read his first two books, but for some reason, when I saw that he had just released a third memoir about life with Parkinson’s, I felt compelled to pick it up. I thought I was a MJF fan before, but after reading this book, I am a HUGE fan now of both him and his wife. This book covers the last ten years of life (since his last book) and is so raw, so vulnerable, so honest, so hard to read at times but also so self-deprecating, inspiring, funny, encouraging and uplifting. I told Andrew that I want Ashby to read this when she’s older because so many of the things he said, I thought she needed to hear. Now that he’s almost 60 and has been living with Parkinson’s disease for half his life, he talks about how it’s hard to always be positive and optimistic. It was really honest, and I just loved it. I can’t imagine anyone reading this book and not being inspired.
Well, you all know how much I love books about Hygge (the Danish word to describe all things cozy), so I thought I’d read Cosy which was the cutest little British book about all things cozy. It is the perfect winter read. The author, English, of course, explains how to make your life cozy the British way. She covers everything from tea to sweaters, to socks to food…I wanted to underline the whole book. It was just happiness. It made me want to light a candle, put on my comfy clothes, curl up under a blanket and read a book. Loved it.
Forever Wild is the third book in the The Simple Wild series. I really liked the other two books (about a young woman who moves to Alaska to build a relationship with her dad and finds love along the way), and I loved this one too! You do need to read these books in order, and like I said with the first two, they are a little rated R, so buyer beware. This third (and final, I think) book actually takes place during Christmastime (I didn’t know that since the other two didn’t) and was super adorable! Everything about this series is cozy and cute (quaint Alaskan town, lots of snow, yummy food references, charming characters), but this third book had the added bonus of twinkle lights and holiday cheer. If you’re looking for a light and happy series with likable characters and an adorable setting, read all three of these books. This final novel wraps things up and is just as adorable as the first two.
Ohhhhhh! You know I don’t typically read a lot of suspenseful books because they scare me (ha!), but when I read the premise of One by One by Ruth Ware, I dug in. This one is perfect to read in the wintertime since it all happens inside a Swiss boutique hotel when an avalanche hits, and they’re all snowed in. I could not put this book down. Each chapter toggles back and forth between different characters, and as other characters start dying off, I couldn’t wait to see what happened next because I just had to know who was doing it. It’s suspenseful, it’s intriguing, it had me on the edge of my seat…and it all takes place in an idyllic little hotel in the snow. After I would read each night, I would have to watch TV or something to get my mind off the suspense. It’s really good, friends. You will be sucked right in!
In my quest to read things from different genres this month, I read Lysa TerKeurst’s newest book Forgiving What You Can’t Forget. Agh. Okay, I have all the feels. I thought the book was okay. It started off really strong but about a third of the way through, I felt (as a reader) that it became more about her explaining why she took her husband back after he cheated (she has talked extensively about it on social media and in her previous book which I also didn’t love…), and less about the general population (us female readers) forgiving one another and our friends/family. She started talking about “dots” for about three chapters (which doesn’t make a lot of sense in this context, but it was very meaningful to her in her life), and that’s where, in my opinion, the wheels kind of started coming off. I really thought the beginning was strong and very relatable, but by the end, I was very disinterested as it felt long and repetitive. Great message, not my favorite delivery on forgiveness. Anyone else feel this way after they read it???
And finally, I read Emily Giffin’s latest book The Lies that Bind…so many of you recommended this to me, and I love her other books (Something Borrowed and then the sequel Something Blue are still two of my faves!!) so much, but this one lost me at the end. I thought the whole first 85% of this book was really strong, but the last 15% or so was too far-fetched and at the end, I was annoyed with the main character. When I finished reading this book, Kensington was next to me and I made a sigh sound and told her I didn’t love it. She asked me to explain the plot and by the end, we were both laughing hysterically because as I was explaining it, it sounded even more absurd. Again, the majority of it was great, but it went off the rails at the end for me. I really don’t want to give away the plot (because it’s unique and there are many twists and turns), but basically it’s about a young woman living in NYC who falls in love quickly with a man who she never sees again after 9/11. She ends up engaged to another man later that year and then SO MANY THINGS HAPPEN (if I started telling you, it would spoil it), but basically the title of the book is “the lies that bind”, so just know there are lies/twists/turns/unforeseen things and lots to uncover. I really loved the majority of this book, but I just didn’t love how farfetched the last part was (in so many ways). I would love to know if you all think I’m crazy or if you agree.
Whew! That was a lot of books to review!!
Okay, what are your thoughts? What did you read this month? Have you checked out my TOP THREE BOOKS OF 2020 yet? What should I read in February? Talk to me, people!! Comment and let’s chat books!!
To see the complete list of books I read in 2015 (all 63 of them), click here.
To see the complete list of books I read in 2016 (all 62 of them), click here.
To see the complete list of books I read in 2017 (all 62 of them), click here.
To see the complete list of books I read in 2018 (all 61 of them), click here.
To see the complete list of books I read in 2019 (all 54 of them), click here.
To see the complete list of books I read in 2020 (all 54 of them), click here.