The first book wrap up of 2023 is here! I managed to get through eight books this month, easing my way into the new year and my new book target of reading 50 books this year.
There was a mix of genres this month between romance, fantasy, Greek mythology, mystery thriller, non-fiction and literary fiction.
All Your Perfects by Colleen Hoover
Quinn and Graham’s perfect love is threatened by their imperfect marriage. The memories, mistakes, and secrets that they have built up over the years are now tearing them apart. The one thing that could save them might also be the very thing that pushes their marriage beyond the point of repair.
My rating: ★★★★
This might be my fourth or fifth Colleen Hoover book by now, but I wanted to start 2023 off with a book that I could sink my teeth into and that would set my pace off nice and strong. I wouldn’t say this is my favourite Colleen Hoover book so far, as each chapter alternated between then and now scenarios, going back to the past and then to the present. The scenario where the love interests met was strange to say the least and the relationship just felt quite toxic throughout. An enjoyable Colleen Hoover novel, but like I said, it definitely wasn’t my favourite.
Reminders of Him by Colleen Hoover
After serving five years in prison for a tragic mistake, Kenna Rowan returns to the town where it all went wrong, hoping to reunite with her four-year-old daughter. But the bridges Kenna burned are proving impossible to rebuild. Everyone in her daughter’s life is determined to shut Kenna out, no matter how hard she works to prove herself. The only person who hasn’t closed the door on her completely is Ledger Ward, a local bar owner and one of the few remaining links to Kenna’s daughter. But if anyone were to discover how Ledger is slowly becoming an important part of Kenna’s life, both would risk losing the trust of everyone important to them. The two form a connection despite the pressure surrounding them, but as their romance grows, so does the risk. Kenna must find a way to absolve the mistakes of her past in order to build a future out of hope and healing.
My rating: ★★★★★
Ok, I think this one may just be my favourite Colleen Hoover novel. I went in quite apprehensively as the blurb was showing a storyline/trope that I had never read before and that I didn’t have very high hopes for. However, the book evokes a lot of questions and discussion, as well as thinking of putting myself in the shoes of the main female character, the love interest and the family as well. What would I do and how would I react if I was in any of their shoes? The story is told incredibly well and one that I’ll remember for a long time.
The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune
Linus Baker leads a quiet, solitary life. At forty, he lives in a tiny house with a devious cat and his old records. As a Case Worker at the Department in Charge Of Magical Youth, he spends his days overseeing the well-being of children in government-sanctioned orphanages. When Linus is unexpectedly summoned by Extremely Upper Management he’s given a curious and highly classified assignment: travel to Marsyas Island Orphanage, where six dangerous children reside: a gnome, a sprite, a wyvern, an unidentifiable green blob, a were-Pomeranian, and the Antichrist. Linus must set aside his fears and determine whether or not they’re likely to bring about the end of days.
My rating: ★★★★
I’m not usually one to read fantasy novels, but I had seen this book in particular all over Booktok and Booktube recently, so when I spotted it in my library I thought I would give it a go. I really did enjoy the story and especially loved the characters. It was funny, wholesome and had you rooting for the children involved. However, I dropped a star as it felt like the story was continuously building up to this big event, but when it got to the climax of the book, it fell quite flat. I was expecting Battle-of-Hogwarts-type action, but instead met a quiet protest that lasted two seconds. I enjoyed it a lot, but it was missing the final punch at the end to make it a five-star read.
I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai
When the Taliban took control of the Swat Valley in Pakistan, one girl spoke out. Malala Yousafzai refused to be silenced and fought for her right to an education. On Tuesday, October 9, 2012, when she was fifteen, she almost paid the ultimate price. She was shot in the head at point-blank range while riding the bus home from school, and few expected her to survive. Instead, Malala’s miraculous recovery has taken her on an extraordinary journey from a remote valley in northern Pakistan to the halls of the United Nations in New York. At sixteen, she has become a global symbol of peaceful protest and the youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
My rating: ★★★★★
I don’t feel like I should rate this, given the premise of the book and that it covers real-life events. However, I will say one thing: read this book. I had of course heard of Malala before reading this and what happened to her on a school bus back in 2012, but this is the full story told by Malala herself of all the events leading up to that moment and everything that happened afterwards. If you want to be inspired at a young woman’s insane amount of courage, read this book.
Bunny by Mona Awad
Samantha Heather Mackey couldn’t be more of an outsider in her small, highly selective MFA program at New England’s Warren University. A scholarship student who prefers the company of her dark imagination to that of most people, she is utterly repelled by the rest of her fiction writing cohort–a clique of unbearably twee rich girls who call each other “Bunny,” and seem to move and speak as one. But everything changes when Samantha receives an invitation to the Bunnies’ fabled “Smut Salon,” and finds herself inexplicably drawn to their front door–ditching her only friend, Ava, in the process. As Samantha plunges deeper and deeper into the Bunnies’ sinister yet saccharine world, beginning to take part in the ritualistic off-campus “Workshop” where they conjure their monstrous creations, the edges of reality begin to blur. Soon, her friendships with Ava and the Bunnies will be brought into deadly collision.
My rating: ★★★
What a wild ride this book was. I picked this up in New York simply because I had seen so many conflicting reviews on the internet. Some people loved it, some people hated it, so I had to find out for myself which camp I fell into. If you’ve seen the movie Heathers, it’s quite similar but if the writer had been on acid. Imagine humans combusting, sacrificing animals and a clique of girls referring to each other as ‘Bunny’. Wild, but I would still recommend it.
The Paris Apartment by Lucy Foley
Jess needs a fresh start. She’s broke and alone, and she’s just left her job under less than ideal circumstances. Her half-brother Ben didn’t sound thrilled when she asked if she could crash with him for a bit, but he didn’t say no, and surely everything will look better from Paris. Only when she shows up – to find a very nice apartment, could Ben really have afforded this? – he’s not there. The longer Ben stays missing, the more Jess starts to dig into her brother’s situation, and the more questions she has. Ben’s neighbors are an eclectic bunch, and not particularly friendly. Jess may have come to Paris to escape her past, but it’s starting to look like it’s Ben’s future that’s in question.
My rating: ★★★★★
I loved Lucy Foley’s The Guest List and The Hunting Party and her most recent novel, The Paris Apartment, turned out to be just as good, if not better. Lucy Foley writes a great murder mystery, and just like the previous two books I mentioned that I had read, The Paris Apartment is told in the same style with each chapter being told from a different person’s point of view and almost every single chapter ending with a cliffhanger. I don’t know how she does it, but there are so many twists and turns that you are never able to guess what’s happening next and whodunnit. Amazing.
Ariadne by Jennifer Saint
Ariadne, Princess of Crete, grows up greeting the dawn from her beautiful dancing floor and listening to her nursemaid’s stories of gods and heroes. But beneath her golden palace echo the ever-present hoofbeats of her brother, the Minotaur, a monster who demands blood sacrifice. When Theseus, the Prince of Athens, arrives to vanquish the beast, Ariadne sees in his green eyes not a threat but an escape. Defying the gods, betraying her family and country, and risking everything for love, Ariadne helps Theseus kill the Minotaur. But will Ariadne’s decision ensure her happy ending? And what of Phaedra, the beloved younger sister she leaves behind?
My rating: ★★★
I decided to give Greek Mythology another go when I spotted this in my local library, as I had heard stellar reviews about this book and author in particular. I know there is also a book called Elektra and a new release coming out in 2023. Did this book change my mind about reading more Greek Mythology? Not quite. It was better than Circe, I will say that, but I still found there were times when not much was happening and where it started to become confusing with so many different characters and names.
Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors
New York is slipping from Cleo’s grasp. Sure, she’s at a different party every other night, but she barely knows anyone. Her student visa is running out, and she doesn’t even have money for cigarettes. But then she meets Frank. Twenty years older, Frank’s life is full of all the success and excess that Cleo’s lacks. He offers her the chance to be happy, the freedom to paint, and the opportunity to apply for a green card. She offers him a life imbued with beauty and art-and, hopefully, a reason to cut back on his drinking. He is everything she needs right now. Cleo and Frank run head-first into a romance that neither of them can quite keep up with. It reshapes their lives and the lives of those around them, whether that’s Cleo’s best friend struggling to embrace his gender identity in the wake of her marriage, or Frank’s financially dependent sister arranging sugar daddy dates after being cut off. Ultimately, this chance meeting between two strangers outside of a New Year’s Eve party changes everything, for better or worse.
My rating: ★★★★★
My final book for January was a book that I had requested for Christmas and was so excited to read. And just as I had suspected, it did not disappoint. In fact, I would be surprised if this book doesn’t end up in my top books of 2023. It’s not a happy story by any means, but then my favourite books usually aren’t. This tells the story of a 25 year old British girl trying to stay in New York as her visa is running out (relatable) and marries a man in his forties to do so. Their love story unfolds and with it comes issues with alcohol, drugs, depression, grief, money, success (and lack of) and so much more. There are quite a lot of trigger warnings but this book felt so raw and real and I loved every page.