I kicked off the new year by reading 8 books and making progress on my reading goal of 75 books for the year! I always like to hit the ground running and start the year off strong with reading, so I was happy that I was able to read a lot of really great books this month. My favorite book that I read was Long Bright River. It was certainly a powerful read and it stayed with me long after I read the last page. I’m really looking forward to another great month of reading in February!
As always, you can see my latest reads on my bookstgram account @enw_reads (I share ALL things books there!) and on my Amazon Shop page! If you have any book recs, send them my way! I would love to hear what you have read recently in the comments. Thanks for stopping by!
AMERICAN DIRT by Jeanine Cummins | Lydia, a Mexican woman from Acapulco, and her son, Luca, witness and survive a violent raid of their family’s gathering, forcing them to flee the country. During the raid, sixteen family members, including Lydia’s husband, Sebastian, are murdered by members of a powerful drug cartel because of their association to the news outlet that has published an article exposing the jefe, Javier. American Dirt is the story of Lydia’s quest to protect her son, her only remaining family member, from a world she fears, even if that means illegally venturing into a new country for both safety and a better future. review: I read an advanced copy of this book at the beginning of January and have been sitting with my thoughts on it since then. As a fictional book, I devoured it and will say that I thoroughly enjoyed it as that. I thought it was well-written, was absolutely heart-breaking and offered up a story about immigration and a mother who will do whatever she has to in order to protect her son. However, as we inched closer to pub day, this book began receiving a lot of criticism, especially from the LatinX community about the inaccuracies, which lead me to do my own research on the book and the author. This review is a bit hard for me to write as a white woman who recognizes the privilege that I have. If anything, this book has sparked a large discussion about immigration and has allowed to me research and expand my knowledge. I have been looking into Own Voice books and have added these to my list: The Book of Unknown Americans, I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter, and A Dream Called Home, to name a few. If you want to read this book, I encourage you to do so because it is a powerful read, but understand the criticism and inaccuracies within it. rating: 4.5 out of 5 ⭐️
EIGHT HUNDRED GRAPES by Laura Dave | Growing up on her family’s Sonoma vineyard, Georgia Ford learned some important secrets. The secret number of grapes it takes to make a bottle of wine: eight hundred. The secret ingredient in her mother’s lasagna: chocolate. The secret behind ending a fight: hold hands. But just a week before her wedding, thirty-year-old Georgia discovers her beloved fiancé has been keeping a secret so explosive, it will change their lives forever. review: This was our book club pick for December and I was excited for it based on the synopsis. Unfortunately I was a bit let down by this one. This was a shorter book at ~275 pages, but I think it actually needed to be longer in order to develop the story and the characters better. I found that I was left with a lot of questions & think those could have been answered if it were a bit longer & contained more details! It was a quick read that read much like a Hallmark movie (!!)and ended up being a great discussion book for our book club, even if we didn’t all like it! rating: 3 out of 5 ⭐️
YOU ARE NOT ALONE by Greer Hendricks & Sarah Pekkanen | When Shay Miller witnesses the suicide of a young woman on the subway station, she can’t shake the encounter and wants to know more about Amanda, the girl who took her life. Her curiosity turns into an obsession and Amanda’s friends take Shay under their wings. Only, Shay doesn’t know that she has entered into a dangerous inner circle and she needs to get out. review: I received an ARC of this book and was so excited to dive right in since I really loved The Wife Between Us. You are Not Alone started off strong and drew me in immediately, but unfortunately I didn’t enjoy this book as much as I have enjoyed the other two they have written. This book is told in alternating perspectives and reads a bit like a cat & mouse chase, which really added to the plot line. There were quite a lot of characters to keep up with and I didn’t find any of them to be likable. I found this book to be a bit more slow-paced than their other books and not quite as compelling. I will say, the twist was one I didn’t see coming and really surprised me. rating: 3 out of 5 ⭐️
ONE OF US IS NEXT by Karen McManus | Welcome back to Bayview High! After a whirlwind at the high school last year in One of Us is Lying, students are finally getting back into the swing of things. But these students know that’s likely too good to be true, so when a mass text is sent out from an unknown sender the whole school is turned upside down…again. How will this end this time around? review: This is the much anticipated sequel to One of Us is Lying and this book certainly didn’t disappoint! In this book you get to catch up with some of the old characters & meet a cast of new ones as well! The stakes are high in this new game the anonymous person is playing with the students & it’s up to them to get to the bottom of it. One thing they learn quickly… always take the dare. This is a classic whodunit book & one that will keep you turning the page until the very end. Like the previous book, this one is told in alternating perspectives in chronological order. Each character’s chapter provides a different insight to the situation and really keeps you guessing! I flew through this book because I just *had* to know what happened! rating: 4 out of 5 ⭐️ SUCH A FUN AGE by Kiley Reid | Such a Fun Age is a debut novel that follows 25 year old Emira, a black babysitter for the wealthy Chamberlain family. Emira loves babysitting the inquisitive and precocious three-year-old Briar Chamberlain & this job is perfect for this chapter of her life. While babysitting one night, she is confronted by a security guard in a local supermarket, and is accused of kidnapping the child. When Alix Chamberlain, Briar’s mother, gets wind of the situation she becomes obsessed with making Emira feel like part of the family. When a video of that night comes to light and ends up going public, it unearths someone from Alix’s past and makes Emira question if Alix truly has her best interests at heart. review: This book is written with a lighthearted and empathetic tone, but it carries a lot of heavy topics – including race relations, class, wealth & friendship. I found this book to be very thought-provoking and I liked learning about both Emira & Alix’s past and what they thought of each other, although I didn’t particularly care for either character. This story is well written, compelling & the character development is fantastic. I really enjoyed this story but wish the ending had been different. This would make a fantastic book club pick and would provide a lot of discussion. rating: 4 out of 5 ⭐️
THE SUN DOWN MOTEL by Simone St. James | Every small town like Fell, New York, has a place like the Sun Down Motel. Some customers are from out of town, passing through on their way to someplace better. Some are locals, trying to hide their secrets. Viv Delaney takes a job working the night shift to pay for her move to New York City. But something isn’t right at the Sun Down, and before long she’s determined to uncover all of the secrets hidden. Fast forward thirty-five years and Carly finds herself in Fell, New York trying to answer the same questions that her aunt Viv had many years prior. What will she find out & what secrets has the motel been holding all this time? review: Last year I read The Broken Girls by Simone St. James and was instantly hooked, so when I saw she had a new book, I immediately ordered it. The author does a great job at writing an atmospheric mysterious book that will make you feel as though you’re right in the town of Fell. I really enjoyed the writing style that kept me sufficiently creeped out and hooked to the very last page. The characters were well-developed and the book was a fast-paced gripping page turner. The story alternates between Viv in 1982 and Carly in 2017 and I found that this really kept me engaged and curious. There is paranormal activity in this book, but it’s done so well that I never even questioned it! I highly recommend this book and I promise you won’t be disappointed! rating: 4.5 out of 5 ⭐️
LONG BRIGHT RIVER by Liz Moore | In a Philadelphia neighborhood rocked by the opioid crisis, two once-inseparable sisters find themselves at odds. One, Kacey, lives on the streets in the vise of addiction. The other, Mickey, walks those same blocks on her police beat. They don’t speak anymore, but Mickey never stops worrying about her sibling. Then Kacey disappears, suddenly, at the same time that a mysterious string of murders begins in Mickey’s district, and Mickey becomes dangerously obsessed with finding the culprit–and her sister–before it’s too late. review: WOW. This is an incredible multifaceted story that is a must read. In a time where addiction is prevalent, this book is so timely and gives a great look into the opioid crisis and the effects it has on families, cities, and everyone around it. This book alternates between present day mystery and the childhood of Mickey and Kasey, this book grips you from the very first chapter. This book is heavy, powerful, heart-wrenching & very eye opening. I couldn’t put this book down and have been recommending it to everyone. This is a book that will stay with you long after you have read the last page. rating: 5 out of 5 ⭐️
GET A LIFE, CHLOE BROWN by Talia Hibbert | Chloe Brown is a chronically ill computer geek with a goal, a plan, and a list. After almost—but not quite—dying, she’s come up with seven directives to help her “Get a Life”, and she’s ready to cross them off. Redford ‘Red’ Morgan is a handyman where she lives with undeniable sex appeal. Maybe he can help her with her list? When Chloe enlists Red to help her with a few things she learns more about him than meets the eye and she liked it… review: If you are looking for a steamy book to read in February, be sure to grab this one as it’s full of steam! I really liked this enemies-to-lovers book and although Chloe and Red are both very different & come from different backgrounds, they work so well together. I enjoyed seeing their relationship develop and the way that each character was developed. I also appreciated that the character wasn’t cliched – she wasn’t a size two, she had a chronic illness and had a lot of sass! rating: 3.5 out of 5 ⭐️