Books of the Month: October 2021

I somehow read nine books this month and it’s mostly because seven of them were smut, fast paced reads, but that may be the most books I’ve ever read in a single month? I also fully embraced ‘no bones’ days and curled up with a book too many days in a row to count, these overcast LA days are definitely playing in my favor. This post took forever to write because, NINE books, so buckle up, folks. Here’s what I read in October:

Fruit of the Drunken Tree is a story about two girls, Chula and Petrona, living in 1980’s Colombia where Pablo Escobar reigns and the streets are very unsafe. Chula is an upper-middle-class young girl, and Petrona is her family’s teen maid. It’s historical fiction told through their perspectives and while it was interesting, it was very slow paced and I almost gave up several times. Read at your own risk.

The Heart Principle was so heartbreakingly good. I think it may be my favorite of the trilogy? Anna was thrust into fame after videos of her playing the violin went viral. Burned out and sick of living her life for others, she meets Quan (Michael’s cousin) and decides to try living a more carefree life. When her father becomes ill and she has to move home to help take care of him, her mental health only suffers further. This book was much heavier than the others in the series, tackling mental health, caregiver burnout, and suicidal ideation. My heart broke for Anna and her need to please those around her (same). Definitely read this series if you haven’t already, Kiss Quotient was one of my favs!

Verity was a RIDE. I definitely didn’t see the twists within the book and honestly, I’m still not sure what the truth actually was now that I’ve finished? Down on her luck, Lowen is asked to ghostwrite a series for Verity, an author who, due to medical reasons, cannot finish writing her thriller series. She goes to Verity’s home to shift through notes when she finds an unpublished book that details Verity’s true nature (these portions of the book were MESSED up, major caution). As Lowen and Verity’s husband, Jeremy, get closer, and Lowen read more of Verity’s unpublished book, Lowen isn’t so sure Verity is what she seems. Very fast-paced, very wild book!

Love Hypothesis was pure Adam Driver smut and I am here for it. Olive is a third-year Ph.D. candidate at Standford when she panics and kisses the first man she sees in the science lab, attempting to convince her best friend she’s happily in a relationship. The man she kisses is a professor named Adam (they didn’t even try?) who eventually agrees to fake date her and of course, over several weeks, they fall in love and live happily ever after. I read in about 5 hours so definitely a fast read.

Bringing Down the Duke was everything I wanted Bridgerton to be. Historical fiction, romance, and feminists for the win! I was traveling and read this in about a day; Sebastian and Annabelle gave me strong Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth vibes, strongly following the enemies to lovers trope that is very much overdone, but I will keep reading as many of these books until I die. Annabelle just wants to go to school to be educated, away from her past. After a tense meeting with Sebastian, she ends up sick and has to stay at his manor leading up to the holidays, and of course they fall in love. The sub-story is about the women’s suffrage movement in the UK at the time, so I felt like I learned something as well?

A Rogue of One’s Own surprised me. The male ‘sort-of villain’ from Bringing Down the Duke ended up being the love interest in this book; I was initially annoyed because I didn’t like his character but she really turned him around and by the end, I was cheering for Tristian and Lucie. I did prefer Bringing Down the Duke better, but this was a solid sequel, continuing the story of the women’s suffrage movement at the time.

Rules of Civility was alright. I gave me Gatsby or City of Girls vibes, but the overall story was a bit slow and the characters were a bit flat, at least the main characters we followed through the whole book. I would have rather read a whole book about Eve’s adventures in LA, or even Kate’s coworkers at Conde Nast, Alley or Mason Tate? It was also apparent the author was male, I’m unsure why he chose to write from the female perspective but he didn’t nail it? Skip if you can (though I’ve heard Gentleman in Moscow is really good?)!

The Ex Hex was cute, very Hallmark-esque, and aligned perfectly with the calendar as October comes to an end. Vivi accidentally might have cursed her ex, Rhys, when she was 19, heartbroken and drunk; now that he’s back in town 9 years later, weird things are magically happening in their town. Vivi and Rhys must race to break the curse, all while ignoring the “magic” lingering between them. HAH that was cheesy but it’s a cheesy book, don’t say I didn’t warn you!

It Happened One Summer…whew this was a sexy book (not quite The Roommate, but a close second). Piper is an LA socialite who lands herself into some trouble after a public breakup; her stepfather sends her away to a small fishing town in Washington as punishment. It’s all very Alexis Rose from Schitt’s Creek and I am here for it!!! The only thing I wasn’t here for was the way Brendan possessively spoke to Piper (and her body) during intercourse. Possessive ‘you’re MINE’ talk is not my personal kink but if that’s your thing then read this! I personally cannot wait for the next book in the series about Hannah and Fox!

Fruit of the Drunken Tree by Ingrid Rojas Contreras

The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

Verity by Colleen Hoover

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

Bringing Down the Duke by Evie Dunmore

A Rogue of One’s One by Evie Dunmore

Rules of Civility by Amor Towles

The Ex Hex by Erin Sterling

It Happened One Summer by Tessa Bailey

What did you read this month? Anything I should add to my list?

Sincerely,

Sara Ann

Books of the Month: September 2021

I was writing my October post and realized this was still saved in my drafts (fully written), but never published. @ past Sara, what are you doing? So publishing this a month late, apologies but better late than never I guess?

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer was a novella that made me WEEP. It’s a very quick read but it’s about a man who has alzheimer’s and is slowly forgetting things as he fervently tries to hold onto the memories from his life. It was beautiful and I love the way Backman created memories as a town square in your mind? Like I said, TEARS.

One Two Three was another knockout from Laurie Frankel that tackles a story about a small town that was taken advantage of by a chemical plant, leaving thousands dead or ill in their wake. One, Two, and Three are triplets that are born during the chemical leak; Two and Three have mental and physical deformities, respectively. It was a beautiful story about sisters, first loves, and ableism. It was tragic but also made me think about hard topics in only a way Frankel can do.

Home Before Dark was my first Sager book and just in time for spooky season, it really knocked my socks off, though it very much reminded me of Hill House from Netflix? Same concept, family moves into spooky old home, weird things keep happening, they flee in the middle of the night and never return. Maggie was a child when they fled but now as an adult, her dad has passed and she has to deal with the house and all the horrors inside that she only really knows of from the book her dad wrote about their experience. Overall, I really liked it, there were tons of twists I didn’t see coming, but I couldn’t read it before I went to bed (paranormal stuff gets me), and this book made it all seem very real…

Lock Every Door was my favorite Sager book of the two; Jules is broke, orphaned, heartbroken and needs a place to live. After getting a job for an apartment sitting position in a famed NYC building, she feels like she might finally get her footing when strange things start happening and her overly friendly neighbor goes missing. Soon, the building and its tenants reveal themselves to be something else entirely. Again, there were a lot of twists in this book, but the truth of what was happening in that building was MESSED UP. Like makes me concerned for Sager’s imagination, what was his inspiration, did this really happen?!? But 10/10 would read again!

Arsenic and Adobo was a quick read; Lila returns home heartbroken after leaving the big city to help her aunt run their family restaurant. One day, her ex boyfriend, a local food critic who’s been criticizing their restaurant comes in for a meal that ends up being his last. Lila and her family are instantly suspects in his death and Lila races against time to find the truth. This book was like a 3 for me? It was a cute quick read but it reminded me a lot of The Marriage Game? Though I really like that Lila didn’t end up with anyone in the end, she was just focusing on opening a cafe with her best friend, which WE ARE HERE FOR. Also, I think her wiener dog could have gotten more air time, idk.

And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman

One Two Three by Laurie Frankel

Home Before Dark by Riley Sager

Lock Every Door by Riley Sager

Arsenic and Adobo by Mia P. Manansala

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.