Books of the Month: August 2021

Somehow it’s September and 2021 is quickly approaching its end. If you’re like me and still trying to process 2020, I’ll be here in LA avoiding the heat, guzzling Pumpkin Creme Cold Brews and baking muffins, if you want to stare into the abyss and contemplate life together. Or find a bookstore and aid in my self destructive habit of buying more books I don’t have time to read. About what I did read last month…

That Summer is a must read; I really enjoy Jennifer Weiner’s writing style and the way she writes these complex narratives that really draw you in. I didn’t enjoy her last book (the mystery wasn’t mysterious at all, sorry Jen), so I was skeptical to read this, but I’m really glad Weiner came back to fiction, and the added twist here was interesting. This book was very well written, especially since it discussed sensitive topics of sexual assault. It was heartbreaking but also heartwarming in the sense that Diana was able to find herself at the Cape and learn to love not only herself but someone else? I also found it incredibly interesting to read about the Harvey Weinstein trials through the eyes of someone who had been sexually assaulted; I thought it was an excellent detail and made me think about something more thoughtfully than I perhaps had before.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is a great book to read if you want to try therapy but have anxiety or fear about what happens/opening up to a stranger/etc. The author writes about the experiences with her patients in therapy, as well as her sessions with her own therapist, really breaking down the human experience, in that, every single one of us has something we want or need to talk about, or work on. I loved the stories of her patients, but I loved Lori’s own experience the most.

We Were Never Here was… I honestly don’t know? It was a thrilling story but there were a lot of things that either weren’t answered OR didn’t make sense? Basically, Emily and her friend, Kristen, take yearly vacations together to exotic and remote locations. This year, they’re in Chile, and Emily can’t shake the reminders of last years Cambodian trip where a man assaulted her, resulting in she and Kristen killing the man and disposing of his body. There was a lot of gaslighting and some blackmail, but the ending left me totally lost. Has anyone else read this?

It Ends With Us was my first Colleen Hoover book that I saw approximately 456 times on Tik Tok and finally caved in and bought. I liked the book, but I loved it after I read the author’s note at the end about the dedication to her mother. It made the book and its subject so much more real? Lily meets Ryle and falls head over heels in love; however, she quickly learns her perfect man isn’t always perfect, right when her teenage love comes waltzing back into her life. It mainly showcases relationships with domestic violence, just as an FYI if you’re thinking about reading, but it was a really good story (with some somewhat laughable details, 23 year old dating a 30 something neurosurgeon, OKAY). Also, for Ryle, I couldn’t stop picturing Luke McFarlane and Justin Hartley, if anyone reading this is planning on adapting this book to film. I couldn’t picture Atlas that well though, curious if anyone else read this and has thoughts of who would play him…

That Summer by Jennifer Weiner

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb

We Were Never Here by Andrea Bartz

It Ends With Us by Colleen Hoover

I also apologize for publishing this so late, the month has gotten away from me! What did you read last month, or what books did you add to your TBR?

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: July 2021

How in the world is it August already? I honestly don’t even know where the year has gone. Overall, I’ve been picking up on my reading, but still in a bit of a slump. I think I need to stop buying books/putting holds at the library, I think my ever growing TBR is giving me anxiety about never getting through all the books I want to read? SIGH, if only I were fabulously wealthy and didn’t have to work and could just read 24/7…

Instructions for Dancing was a young adult novel, I think? Evie is reeling from her parent’s break up when she takes an instruction book for dancing out of a local community library. Suddenly, when couples kiss, she can see the start, middle, and end of their relationship. She takes it to mean that all relationships end; however, through learning to dance and getting to know her dancing partner, she learns love is about enjoying the moments and the person you’re with, even if it has a sad end. I definitely cried reading this book and as an Angeleno, I desperately wanted Surf City Waffle to be a thing (I did eat at Met Her at the Bar, the waffle shop that inspired Surf City, 10/10 would recommend, the chicken and waffles were out of this world).

One to Watch is a must-read for any Bachelor nation fans; Bea is a plus-sized fashion blogger that ends up as the ‘Main Squeeze’ (i.e. bachelorette) after posting a scathing blog post about the franchise and their lack of body diversity. Bea quickly learns that being on the show is complicated and messy, especially as she starts to develop feelings for some of the men. The story tackled the sickening way media treats women and women’s bodies so perfectly; I was also obsessed with the mixed media way the story was told, almost as if we really were following the season of the Bachelorette. Can I also just say, Kate Stayman-London seems AWESOME? She was a political writer for Hillary’s 2016 campaign and ‘obsessively ranks Taylor Swift songs‘…can we be friends? Hit me up, girl.

The Guncle was a precious modern family story; after a family death, Patrick agrees to watch his niece and nephew for the summer in his Palm Springs home where he learns to open up and be vulnerable in his grief. Overall, I thought it was a cute story, I think I went into having really high hopes? I don’t know, my life wouldn’t have changed had I not read the book? Cute, but next.

The Last Thing He Told Me was a thrilling story that had me on the edge of seat, until….nothing happened? Hannah’s husband Owen goes missing, leaving Hannah and Owen’s daughter, Bailey, alone with deal with one another as Owen’s tech company is revealed to be involved in a scandal. Hannah and Bailey race to uncover what happened, finding out along the way, Owen isn’t who he says he is. Overall it was a very engaging story, I couldn’t stop reading, but it was building and building up to this pivotal moment that never came? The climax was kind of a let down? Curious if anyone else read this and had similar thoughts? I’ve only seen good reviews on it, so feeling like an outlier here!

The Roommate was a very steamy book about two roommates, a socialite and a porn star, who spend the entire book trying to ignore their obvious chemistry. I enjoyed the book, but there was the usual ‘both persons are too in their head and think the other doesn’t want to be with them for XYZ reason’ which is sort of exhausting and often drawn out? But in this book it just built up the sexiness of it? There was also a ‘women shouldn’t be ashamed of being sexual creatures’ tone that was refreshing. Overall, it wasn’t a novel I would write home about but if you need a quick romance, would recommend (also, can we talk about the website, Shameless, that they build out…why isn’t that a thing though? As a prude myself, 10/10, would subscribe ASAP).

Instructions for Dancing by Nicola Yoon

One to Watch by Kate Stayman-London

The Guncle by Steven Rowley

The Last Thing He Told Me by Laura Dave

The Roommate by Rosie Danan

What have you been reading this summer? Let me know in the comments, my TBR isn’t tall enough already!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: June 2021

It was hard to stay focused and read last month, so much so that I totally forgot to write this post! I’ve been sticking to quick romance reads, I find I can’t focus on anything more serious. I did find all of these books very enjoyable, however. Happily taking any book recommendations to help get me out of my slump!

Song of Achilles was a beautiful love story about Patroclus and Achilles as they become friends and eventually head into battle in the Trojan War. I loved this epic romance, it was so beautiful and sad. I really need Madeline Miller to write more books as I cannot get enough of Greek mythology these days!

Love in Color is a collection of reimagined folktales and love stories across time. The stories were really well written, often reimagined in a more modern day telling. It was interesting to read folk tales from many different cultures, especially folktales from Asian or African culture that I may have not heard before. The love stories were, well, lovely and made me swoon.

The Wife Upstairs was an eerie thriller with a few twists, some I saw coming and others I didn’t. It was a good quick page turner about a dog walker who falls in love with one of recently widowed neighbors in the community she works in. She’s running from her past and he’s hiding something in their house.

Malibu Rising was another TJR knock out that I absolutely loved. Every summer, Nina Riva hosts an end of summer bash in her Malibu home that everyone who’s anyone in LA attends. The story follows the four Riva siblings over 24 hours before, during and after the party, revealing family secrets that will set the party aflame.

Invisible Husband of Frick Island was a cute story about a small island community that goes along with a local woman, Piper, in pretending her dead husband is actually alive. When a reporter comes and notices this odd situation, he keeps returning in order to investigate this phenomenon, spending more and more time with Piper. Is the man really dead? Why is everyone just going along with it? What other secrets does the island hold?

The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller

Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalola

The Wife Upstairs by Rachel Hawkins

Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid

The Invisible Husband of Frick Island by Colleen Oakley

If I had to pick one book, I would recommend Song of Achilles or Malibu Rising, both were quick, engaging stories that I couldn’t put down!

What are you reading this month?

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: May 2021

Apologies for the delay on this post, it was all written, I just got distracted by the book I was reading this week and forgot to post it! I actually really enjoyed all of the books I read this month; it was also quite a variety, from thriller, to historical fiction, to romance, to a web cartoon. I also somehow bought like 8 books last month? And had several come available at the library so it’s been quite the mad dash to get through my TBR.

The Push was a psychological drama about a mother who suspects there is something wrong with her first born daughter, but everyone thinks she is making it up. It reminds me a bit of Woman in the Window, where the female protagonist isn’t believed by anyone and is made to be crazy. I think this was a really well written book; it felt real and honest (as in, I’m not taking a chance and having children), and helps to pose the question, at what age do sociopaths start to show their true nature and what do we do about it…?

Lore Olympus (Season 1) is a Webtoon comic that I fell in love with this month. I’ve been very into greek mythology and this (modern?) retelling of the story of Hades and Persephone made me swoon. I literally gobbled up the comics, reading through season 1 in about 3 days. Would recommend if you want to scroll through something other than Instagram.

Circe was a fantastic book about the nymph daughter of Helios, who ends up becoming a powerful witch, exiled to her own island. Odysseus eventually ends up on her shores in his return home to Ithaca, for those who read The Odyssey by Homer. The story was about a powerful woman, coming into her own as a powerful sorceress who defies the gods for her own gains, which we love to see! *clap*

The People We Meet on Vacation was another Emily Henry banger. It was a semi coming of age story (IMO) meets romance about Alex and Poppy, who meet in college and become friends, traveling on vacation each summer. I felt it was a bit of a When Harry Met Sally* rip off and I definitely loved Beach People more, but Henry still wrote complex characters who had complicated backgrounds within an overall great story. I felt like it was also a coming of age story for Poppy, in a way that reminded me of Honey Girl. Also, loved the back and forth chapters that helped to better show more of Alex and Poppy’s pasts.

(*WHMS is quite literally one of my favorite 90’s rom coms, second to Pretty Woman, so I really wasn’t upset by this)

Milk Fed was a coming of age story about a twenty something living in LA, struggling with her body image, weight and mommy issues. I found it to be a bit triggering when she was talking about her eating disorder, but overall, it was an interesting story. I don’t think I would recommend this one to everyone but it was a very well written coming of age story.

We Begin at the End surprised me. It started off and I was very confused as to what was happening? But slowly, the story developed and I found there were really well written characters within a very complex story. It reminded me a lot of All of the Ugly and Wonderful Things by Bryn Greenwood, but with a murder investigation thrown in? The story follows the police chief, Walk as he tries to prove his friend’s innocence when someone in town is found murdered; there is a second plot factoring in a young girl and her brother as they outrun the sister’s past misdeeds. The two plots are woven into one another, of course.

Overall, I enjoyed all of the books I read this month, I would definitely recommend The Push or Circe the most. I’ve been on quite the Greek mythology kick these days and am currently reading The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller (so close to being done and I already know it’s going to be my favorite book for June). Any book suggestions on this topic will be well received!

The Push by Ashley Audrain

Lore Olympus, Season 1 by Rachel Smythe

Circe by Madeline Miller

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

We Begin at the End by Chris Whitaker

What did you read in May? Leave it in the comments, I’m always looking for recommendations!

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: April 2021

I had a slower reading month; I actually started two additional books this month but did not finish so I wasn’t able to get through as many as I have stacked next to my bed. I include blurbs about each at the end of this post, just for reference of why I stopped reading each. Both left me wanting more and I couldn’t ignore the heap of books that I knew would be more intriguing. So in an effort of self care I moved on and honestly don’t regret it. That being said, here are the books I did finish this month:

The Poppy War was a surprise for me; a coworker recommended it and to be honest, it’s not one I would have personally chosen to read, but I’m happy I did. In book one of a trilogy, Rin, a war orphan peasant, has landed herself in one of the most prestigious military academies in her land. While there, she learns the art of war, but also the art of shamanism. When war does break out, Rin must fight for her people and decide whether or not to work with her gods, even if it means total destruction. I really enjoyed this book and its strong female lead. The first chunk of the story was a lot of world building and slower to get through, but once war broke out, the story really took off. I can’t wait to read the next book in the trilogy!

Honey Girl was another surprise, I was expecting a romance and got a coming of age story that was really nice. Grace Porter has been following her plan for 11 years, strenuously working to get her doctorate in astronomy. Once she has her degree, she struggles with getting a job because of who she is, so she decides to run away… to find the girl she married in Vegas on a drunken night weeks before. It’s sweet and really hit a chord, I also remember being done with school and feeling this large emptiness and not knowing how to define myself. I wish I had turned to therapy during that time. Very cute and quick read!

The Lost Apothecary was good but I feel a smidge let down by the book? I initially heard about it from someone who hyped it up A LOT so I went into it with really high hopes; not to say it wasn’t a good story, but I just want to set that stage before I continue. The story was about a woman who uses her late mother’s apothecary to help other women kill men, for lack of a better description? I loved the story of women supporting women and the present day story woven in that had a modern scorned woman on a hunt to uncover the lost apothecary. It was a fun read and I didn’t see some of the twists coming?

The Four Winds was phenomenal. I’ve always loved Kristin Hannah’s stories; she has a wonderful way of weaving a beautiful story with rich characters together to make a great book. The Four Winds is about a Texas family during the Great Depression/Dust Bowl, who decide to migrate to California to save themselves. When they get there, they only find discrimination and unfair jobs. It made me sad to think that America has always been routed in capitalism and the fear of outsiders? I feel like you could change the characters to Asian or Mexican and set it in the present day and the major themes would still be present, which was something I kept thinking about as I progressed through the family’s time in California. A must read!

Beach Read was talented brilliant incredible amazing show stopping, please read this book ASAP. January, a heart broken and uninspired author, moves to her late father’s beach house for the summer while she writes her next novel. She starts a friendly bet with the author next door that eventually spirals into something more. It’s a classic rom com that mocks rom coms and happily ever afters throughout the story, but I really felt these characters had actual depth to them. It made me want to write a book? Also, the books they each wrote over the summer, where can I read them? They sound really good? Finally, if you need any other excuse to read this book, it’s full of Taylor Swift references, particularly the ‘You Belong with Me’ writing messages on notebooks for hot neighbor across the way, so.

The end KILLED MEH.

The Poppy War (The Poppy War #1) by R.F. Kuang

Honey Girl by Morgan Rogers

The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner

The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Beach Read by Emily Henry

If I had to recommend one book, and this is really hard, I would say The Four Winds but if you can’t handle a heavy book right now, or you’re a Swiftie like me, pick up Beach Read!

What did you read this month?

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books I Wanted to Like and Started to Read but Didn’t Finish: April 2021

East of Eden by John Steinbeck. I’ve been wanting to reread books we were forced to “read” in high school (aka sparknote) and I realized I wasn’t actually forced to read East of Eden but it sounded really good. It’s rated highly on good reads and I thought, ‘let’s do it!’ …but I found that Steinbeck’s writing still puts me to sleep after all these years. I couldn’t do it, and instead of forcing myself, I said ‘Goodbye John’ and moved on. Maybe another time.

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett. I know somewhere, someone just flipped their computer off a table. I KNOW. I’ve had multiple people tell me Good Omens was an awesome book. I have seen the show and loved it (shoutout to Michael Sheen and David Tennant, also Jon Hamm) so I expected to love the book. I got about halfway through and just… couldn’t? I don’t know if it was the lack of chapter division? Or lack of Crawley and Aziraphale characters that are very prominent in the show? I could only read like 3-4 pages and I would call it a night. Seriously you guys, I spent like 10 days (1/3 of the month) trying to chug through this book and I only made it to when Armageddon starts happening. I decided to stop as there were other books I knew I would enjoy more. End of story, you can hate me if you want, but I stand by this.

Books of the Month: March 2021

Whew, I read 8 books last month! Let’s see if I can remember them all….

This Close to Okay was okay? It was a very well written story about Tallie, a therapist, and a man she stops from jumping off the side of a bridge on night. The two eventually build a connection together over a rainy weekend, but I felt like the ending fell a bit flat? I don’t know, the end made me smile but it wasn’t what I was expecting to happen? Curious if others have thoughts on this one…

You’re the Only One I’ve Told: The Stories Behind Abortion should be required reading for literally everyone. This book details very real stories of real people who’ve had abortions in America, written by a abortion clinic doctor. It really breaks down each situation and the reasoning for the person having the abortion, as well as how the laws affected that situation, based on the state the person was living in, or had to travel to in order to have the abortion. Before reading it, I always said I was pro-choice, but I could never have an abortion myself; after reading it, I can no longer say for certain that in every situation, I would never have one. Abortion isn’t black and white, and the laws preventing it disportionately affect those of color and low income. It’s a really great book to read if you want to educate yourself more on this topic that shouldn’t even be a partisan issue.

What Kind of Woman was a beautiful book of poems. I loved Part 1 the most; ‘Moon Song’ and ‘To Take Back a Life’ were probably my favorites? Kate fully captured all the different facets of being a woman, from being a mother to a wife to single woman. I feel like I will come back to this book throughout my life and take different things from it each time.

Girl A had a good story, about a girl who was held hostage and abused by her parents, and eventually escaped, freeing herself and her siblings. The story jumps back and forth in time, from the past to the present, when the mom dies and the girl has to reconnect with her siblings as adults. It was a good story, I saw the twist coming, the end.

An Offer From a Gentlemen/Romancing Mister Bridgerton were books 3 and 4 in the Bridgerton series and, in my opinion, these books are getting worse and worse as they go on. These books were the love stories of Benedict and Collin respectively, and each man is kind of an asshole to their respective partners? They have horrible tempers (which is passed off as a ‘quirky/cute’ Bridgerton trait) and treat their loves with no respect while claiming they’re ‘protecting’ the women. Benedict basically kidnaps a woman and forces her to be his mistress, while Collin acts like a jealous child around angel of the whole series, Penelope, and is constantly calling out the fact that even he’s surprised he fell in love with her. I am no longer reading any more of these; overall would not recommend the series…

The Marriage Game was cute but I don’t remember much of it? It would be good to read on the beach. Layla has returned home after another bad breakup and failed career path; she goes on blind dates her dad has found for her online (they’re Indian, he’s trying to modern day arrange a marriage for her), but due to her dad’s heart attack, the dates are chaperoned by her hottie office partner and eventually, they fall in love. He’s kind of a dick to her, tbh? IMO she could have done better, but maybe I was just still salty after reading the Bridgertons

Calling Me Home tore at my heart strings. Isabelle, a 90 year old woman, asks her hair dresser/friend, Dorrie, to drive her to a funeral all the way in Cincinnati from Texas. Along the journey, Dorrie hears the story of Isabelle’s life, specifically about when she fell in love as a teen with a black man during WW2, when Jim Crow laws were raging in America. It was beautiful and sweet love story and I would definitely recommend reading.

This Close to Okay by Leesa Cross-Smith

You’re the Only One I’ve Told: The Stories Behind Abortion by Meera Shah

What Kind of Woman by Kate Baer

Girl A by Abigail Dean

An Offer From a Gentleman (Bridgertons #3) by Julia Quinn

The Marriage Game by Sara Desai

Romancing Mister Bridgerton (Bridgertons #4) by Julia Quinn

Calling Me Home by Julie Kibler

If you read anything from this list, read You’re the Only One I’ve Told, and whatever you do, DO NOT read the Bridgerton novels. What did you read last month?

Sincerely,

Sara Ann