Recent Reading, February 2024

I had a really good month of reading – I really leaned into romances, in the spirit of the month and Valentine’s Day, but still got in a mix of other genres, too. Best of all, I enjoyed most of the books I read, which in turn made me excited to read more and keep reading. Here’s everything I read in February.

Bride by Ali Hazelwood

Starting off on such a high note – I loved this fantasy romance! It’s so cute – like, you want to squeal as you’re reading and text your BFF (I did both of these things). Misery is a Vampyre who has grown up with humans, and is searching for her human best friend who disappeared a few days earlier. On her father’s request, she agrees to a politically arranged marriage to an Alpha of the Weres, Lowe (the Vampyre’s enemy!)… but only after learning his name. As Misery adjusts to her life – and her marriage – she also continues to work towards her own secret motives. And of course, the Weres might not turn out exactly as they were described, either! I thought this was so sweet and didn’t want to put it down.

This Spells Love by Kate Robb

This was one of the few letdowns of the month – I didn’t dislike it, I just didn’t love it. After a drunken night with her sister, her best friend Dax, and her aunt, Gemma decides to do a “love cleanse” spell from a book she finds in her aunt’s shop to help her get over her ex… that has to be sealed with a (friendly) kiss. The next morning, Gemma finds out the spell worked, but it worked too well, because she’s in a parallel life of sorts where she never dated her ex, but also never became friends with Dax. Gemma wants to undo the spell, but to do that, she has to get Dax to kiss her again. The premise is cute, but a lot of this story felt superficial to me, and Gemma was often extremely frustrating!

Ellie Haycock is Totally Normal by Gretchen Schreiber

(I got this as an ARC through NetGalley, but it will out tomorrow!) I’m so happy that we’re seeing more stories about disabled main characters written by disabled authors, and this one is an incredible addition to the collection. Ellie is a high schooler with a rare disease who has mostly managed to keep her “home life” and her “hospital life” separate, though it’s mostly left her without any friends who really, truly understand all of her. When she’s sent back to the hospital for a prolonged stay, she ends up making a new group of friends, and Ellie has to decide if she can handle really letting someone in all the way to her life.

Wahala by Nikki May

This was and interesting mix of a little bit of a thriller plus a story about female friendship. Ronke, Simi, and Boo are three Anglo-Nigerians living in London, each with their own things going on. Boo is married with a child, but feels lost and unfulfilled. Ronke desperately wants what Boo has, and is trying to ensure her boyfriend is “the one” that will give it all to her. Simi has a long distance partner who thinks they’re trying for a child, but Simi is still taking her birth control pills. Then a new friend, Isobel, jumps into the group, and theoretically tries to help Simi, Ronke, and Boo get what they want, but drama ensues and large cracks in the womens’ friendships start to form. The writing is on the wall, but it’s an interesting ride to the end. I will note that there’s some pretty strong colorism in the story – I think it’s purposeful, but it can be jarring to read.

One in a Millennial by Kate Kennedy

If you’re a millennial like me, I think you’ll love this book! It’s a love letter to the millennial generation, with so much heart and nostalgia, too – I found myself nodding along as I was reading, and felt so understood and like someone shared so many of the memories that I had. It’s also funny, poignant, and insightful, too, about how the way we grew up shaped us into the people we are today. I flew through this and loved it.

Summer Romance by Annabel Monaghan

(I got this as an ARC through NetGalley – it will be out on June 4.) Annabel Monaghan is one of my must-buy authors, and her newest book is no exception! Ali is recently divorced, has been living in sweatpants, and is a professional organizer who feels like her life is an absolute mess. One day, though, she puts on “hard pants,” takes her dog to the dog park… and he proceeds to mark a handsome stranger there. Ali and the man start chatting, agree to go on a date, and she thinks maybe she has the perfect summer romance ahead of her. But of course, nothing is ever quite that simple or clear cut. I think this is my favorite of Annabel’s books so far!

None of This Is True by Lisa Jewell

This is a twisty thriller, which isn’t my usual genre, but I really enjoyed it, and it’s great for discussing with friends. Josie is out for dinner celebrating her 45th birthday, and meets a popular podcaster Alix at the restaurant, who happens to be her birthday twin. Josie and Alix run into each other again, a few days later, and Josie pitches the idea of a new podcast, where Alix interviews her, as her birthday twin. But quickly into recording, Alix learns that Josie has some dark secrets in her past, and the podcast turns into something else entirely. There are so many layers to unwrap in this story, and the ending makes for great discussion – it would be an amazing pick for a book club.

Boyfriend Material by Alexis Hall

I don’t know why it took me so long to read this – I loved it and am looking forward to reading the sequel, Husband Material, this month! Luc has a famous rock star for a dad and is used to being covered (usually negatively) in the British tabloids. But his most recent escapades have gone too far, and his work – the only nonprofit willing to hire him – tells him that he needs to appear more suitable in the press and stop scaring off potential donors. So Luc and his friends decide that what he needs is a fake boyfriend, and he’s set up with a friend of a friend, the barrister Oliver, who also would like to have a date for an upcoming family function. The two agree that once their obligations are over, they can part ways and be free of each other again. But of course, that might end up being harder than they think!

Bye, Baby by Carola Lovering

(I got an ARC of this from NetGalley, it will be out tomorrow!) (Content warning: sexual assault) I don’t know exactly what to call this book – thriller? Suspense? The book starts with the big action – Billie hearing her childhood best friend Cassie screaming as she realizes her baby is missing, only for Billie to realize that she is the one who has taken the baby. Billie panics, secretly returns the baby just a few hours later, but is elated to learn that in her moment of need, Cassie asked for Billie, their fractured-in-recent-years friendship seemingly repaired. The rest of the story alternates between going back to Cassie and Billie’s youth, to Cassie and Billie now, post kidnapping – a look at how, and why, their lives have changed, if things can be repaired, and at the impact of growing up and having kids of friendships. I don’t know that this was my absolute favorite, but I did really enjoy reading about female friendships in all their complexities.

The Idea of You by Robinne Lee

I think I’m one of the last people to read this – I know it made the rounds of my Instagram friends in 2020! It’s extremely loosely based on the idea of Harry Styles and One Direction, but just as the inspiration or jumping off point! Solène takes her daughter, Isabelle, to see the hugely famous boy band August Moon in concert, and after a backstage encounter, ends up… connecting with one of the pop group’s members, Hayes. She and Hayes start sneaking around, trying to keep things casual, especially because Hayes is only 24 to Solène’s 39, and because Isabelle is obsessed with Hayes. But what starts out as a no-strings hookup turns into something more, and Solène has to decide what she’s doing and if she can handle being in a relationship with a pop star. I thought it was a great look at fame and how it might not be all it’s cracked up to be, but I did find myself trying to actively forget the age gap!

The Happy Ever After Playlist by Abby Jimenez

This was such a cute rom-com – it’s technically part of an interconnected series, but each book can be read as a standalone (this is the second). Sloan has been pretty depressed for a while after losing someone close to her. One day while she’s driving, though, a dog randomly jumps into her car (through the sunroof!). After many unanswered calls to the number on the collar, Sloan starts to think of the dog as her own, and the routine of dog ownership has her feeling more like herself again. But then Jason does reach out, explaining he’s a musician out of town in Australia, and the dog is his. Sloan refuses to give the dog back until Jason proves he’s a responsible and loving dog owner, so the two strike up a friendship over the phone, and then eventually in person, and then eventually something more than a friendship! But Jason’s career is on the brink of exploding, and Sloan might not be ready for what that would mean in a relationship. I apparently was into reading about musicians this month!

House of Flame and Shadow by Sarah J. Maas

The much-anticipated, highly-awaited third book in SJM’s Crescent City series! It’s hard to recap a book that’s the third in a series without spoining, so I’ll just say this book picks up right where the last one left off, with Bryce having traveled to a new land and being met by some familiar faces. I did get a lot of the answers that I was hoping for (and some of my predictions were correct!), but some of it did feel a little bit info-dumpy. I think, though, that the hype and expectations were so high, that it would be hard to perfectly live up to them! Overall, I was happy with most of the story and enjoyed my time back in Lunathion.

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