I hopped around genres again this month, and found a few books that I absolutely lost myself in and did not want to put down until I’d finished. Those are my favorite kinds – I love when I’m doing something else but find myself thinking about my book and wondering what’s going to happen next. So here’s what I read in February!
The Secret Summer Promise by Keah Brown
Thanks to NetGalley for an ARC of this book – it will be released on June 6, 2023. I loved this YA rom-com / coming-of-age story with a disabled and queer protagonist! Andrea and her best friend Hailee come up with a summer to do list – ways to have the best summer ever. Except Hailee doesn’t know that Andrea adds one more secret item to the list – to fall out of love with Hailee. Andrea is sure that she’ll ruin her friendship with Hailee if she confesses her crush, and she’s too afraid to risk it. So when a guy she knows from school asks her out, she figures going out with him will help her fall out of love with her best friend. Of course, this doesn’t go exactly as she plans. I loved that Andrea’s cerebral palsy is part of the story, but in a very real, authentic way – not just as a plot point to check off. Since Keah is disabled herself, this doesn’t surprise me, but I just really appreciated how well done it was!
I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai
(Content warning: sexual assault) I could not put this book down – I think I finished it in less than 24 hours because I just wanted to know what was going to happen. Bodie Kane is a film professor, podcaster, and alum of the Granby School, a boarding school in New Hampshire. During her senior year at Granby, her once roommate, Thalia, was murdered, supposedly by an athletic trainer at the school. When Bodie agrees to teach a short course at Granby, she finds herself increasingly obsessed with the case, and finds herself wondering if they convicted the wrong person. It’s part dark academia, part thriller, part social commentary, and just all around good.
If Only You by Chloe Liese
I got an ARC of this book through NetGalley – it will be released on April 11, 2023. Last month, I read all of the currently published Bergman Brothers (and sisters) books, so when I saw Chloe post that this one was available on NetGalley, I raced to request it! I loved it so much – Chloe just writes in a way that makes me want to be friends (or book boyfriends) with her characters. This story focuses on Ziggy, the youngest Bergman sibling, who is tired of being seen as the sweet, innocent baby of the family. So she decides that she’s going to fake date Sebastian, her brother’s hockey teammate and known bad boy, whose image needs some cleaning. But of course, fake dating or not, real feelings start to develop. It’s a great reminder that our pasts don’t have to define us – that we can change without losing ourselves. Plus, Ziggy is reading a book series with a veeeeery familiar sounding tattooed Fae bad boy, so I had to love!
Age of Vice by Deepti Kapoor
(Content warning: rape, sexual assault, violence) This is an epic saga of a book, set in India, spanning years and cities. The story mostly centers around Ajay, a servant to a wealthy and well-connected Indian family. The book starts out with Ajay being arrested for killing someone in a car accident, and then goes back to his childhood to figure out how he ended up here – and then follows him during his time in jail. But it also follows Sunny, who Ajay was a servant for, and his drug-fueled exploits, plus his forbidden romance with Neda, a journalist who grows close to Sunny. It covers so much and is pretty engrossing. It felt a bit long at times but then would pick back up. I think there are plans to adapt it for TV, and I can see that working really well.
In the Weeds by B.K. Borison
This is the second book in the Lovelight Farms series. This one focuses on Beckett, a farmer at Lovelight and town loner of sorts, and Evelyn, a social media influencer who had a one-night stand with Beckett only to find herself face-to-face with him at his farm in the first Lovelight book. Now, she’s feeling burnt out and unfulfilled, and wants to turn off her phone and take a real break – and realizes that last time she was truly happy was at Lovelight. When an overbooked inn (and some town busybodies) have Evelyn staying with Beckett while she’s in town, the two find themselves growing closer again. But Evelyn is still figuring out what she wants, and Beckett doesn’t want to tie her down to his small town life. The Lovelight books remind me so much of the small town charm of Gilmore Girls, and are a delight to read (or, in this case for me, listen to).
Highly Suspicious and Unfairly Cute by Talia Hibbert
I’ve loved everything I’ve ever read by Talia Hibbert, and this was no exception. Celine and Bradley were childhood best friends, but Bradley got popular in high school, and Celine feels like he abandoned her. But the two are thrown together again when they both decide to enter a scholarship contest slash survival course being run by Celine’s idol. When they end up working together on the same team, they start to remember why the used to be friends… and maybe want to be something more, too.
Before I Let Go by Kennedy Ryan
(Content warning: miscarriage, depression) This was a realistic romance – it was raw, and heartbreaking at times, too. Yasmen and Josiah seemed to truly be the perfect couple, but after a wave of tragedies in their life, they couldn’t seem to find their way back to each other. So they’ve separated and are adjusting to their new routine of co-parenting while not being together. Except… they can’t quite seem to stay apart, either, and find themselves slipping back into old habits. I loved how this story dealt with trauma, and how it normalized therapy, too.
Clytemnestra by Costanza Casati
(Content warning: rape, violence) I got an ARC of this through NetGalley – it will be released on May 2, 2023. My knowledge of ancient Greece and Greek mythology is spotty at best – I know the big names, but not some of the less well-known ones, which is to say that Clytemnestra’s story was completely new to me. It took me a little bit to really get into the story, but I ended up loving it – she was a fierce female warrior and queen. Clytemnestra was trained as a warrior from youth, but found her life upended when her husband was murdered and she was told she’d be marrying Agamemnon, who was involved in the plot to murder her first husband. But Clytemnestra continued to fight – for power, for freedom, for herself. I found myself fully immersed by the end.
I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jennette McCurdy
(Content warning: addiction, parental abuse, anorexia/bulimia) While this was a relatively quick read (or listen, in this case), it was also really difficult because the material is so, so heavy. Jennette was a child star (I was a little too old for her shows, but knew of her of course) whose decision to go into acting was largely decided by her mother, who pushed her every step of the way – often in incredibly unhealthy ways. As Jennette got more roles, her mom only got more controlling and restricting. It’s incredible to see the “work” Jennette has done since her mom’s death, to reclaim her life and try to reshape her mind in a more healthy way.