I haven’t chatted about books here in quite some time. 2023 on the whole hasn’t really been a great reading year for me personally. I’ve found myself in a 3-star rating slump a few times this year, so I’ve been a little less enthusiastic about my reading life. I’ve only read 32 books so far this year, which is a little light for me. However, while my reading life has seen some lulls, persistence has paid off; and I have come across some really great books that I’m excited to share with you all!
Table of Contents
- All The Dangerous Things by Stacy Willingham
- Someone Else’s Shoes by Jojo Moyes
- Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
- The Wife Upstairs by Freida McFadden
- Happiness for Beginners by Katherine Center
- The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins
- All Good People Here by Ashley Flowers
- The Life Council – Ten Friends Every Woman Needs by Laura Tremaine
- One True Loves, Forever Interrupted, After I Do, & Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
- What Might Have Been by Holly Miller
- Spare by Prince Harry
- I’m Glad My Mom Died by Jenette McCurdy
- The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
- The Dictionary of Lost Words by Pip Williams
- Hello Beautiful by Ann Napolitano
- Remarkably Bright Creatures by Shelby Van Pelt
I fell hard for Willingham’s first book, A Flicker in the Dark, so I eagerly anticipated her second release. And once again, she blew me away! This is a page-turning, psychological thriller about a child that goes missing in the middle of the night. And all of the flashbacks, twists, and turns this story takes culminate in an ending you absolutely won’t see coming. Or at least, I didn’t. 4 stars
This story about two women whose lives haphazardly cross over a pair of shoes really caught me by surprise. Having an initial dislike for both women, I struggled to connect to this story at the start. But by the end of the book, I found myself rooting for both of them. This witty, quick read makes for a great palette cleanser between heavier, darker stories. It’s kind of like a Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants meets Freaky Friday meets Bridgit Jones. And the London setting and fashion references really give the story so much color. I initially rated it 3 1/2 stars, but I think that’s only because it was definitely no Me Before You. But what is?! In fairness, it was a solid 4-star read.
Oh my wow, this might be the most disturbing thriller, borderline horror story I’ve ever read. It should definitely come with a trigger warning as this is absolutely not for sensitive readers. Even readers who regularly read dark novels should be forewarned. This crime thriller is downright chilling with very graphic descriptions of extremely disturbing acts. If you just sent a daughter to college, this may not be the book for you. I wonder, what does it say about me that I gave it 4 stars? Don’t answer that. 😉
The handful of people who recommended this one to me all said it gave them Verity vibes. And I get why they said that. But I’d say Verity is a French 75, as it goes down smoothly and easily but packs a major punch. While The Wife Upstairs is a really good Sauvignon Blanc, it’s enjoyable but very predictable. It was a 4-star read for me, and Verity was a 5. If you’re into psychological thrillers and you’ve already read Verity, add this one to your list.
It’s so cliche, but it’s true. The book was better than the movie. But I had never even heard of this book until I saw the Netflix trailer for the movie, and I decided I wanted to read it first. Ellie Kemper and Luke Grimes were perfect for these roles! That said, there’s so much more depth to this story than the movie portrays. It’s a quirky, romantic comedy, but it’s about so much more than finding love. This book gets 4 stars from me and the movie just 3.
I’ve always loved a villain’s origins story! So when I heard Collins was releasing a prequel to The Hunger Games that was all about President Snow, I couldn’t wait to dive back into Panem. But then the book arrived, and I let my son read it first. Once he finished and told me it left him feeling disappointed, I moved this book to the bottom of my to-read stack not wanting to feel book-sick. However, when I saw the movie trailer, my curiosity finally drove me to pull it back out again. And now I understand why my son was disappointed. This prequel, like the original Hunger Games series, is filled with many different, interesting characters besides our young President Snow, some familiar and some new. My best advice is to let go of any expectations and definitely read the book before the movie is released this November. It gets 4 1/2 stars from me. Because I really believe when you’re left feeling heartsick at the end of a story, it’s a testament to the magical power of fiction that only the very best storytellers wield so well.
This debut thriller from the host of true crime podcast Crime Junkie has me excited for more from this author. This fictional story follows a young journalist whose old memories are triggered when she begins covering a missing child case in a neighboring town that is eerily similar to a twenty-year-old unsolved case that happened right next door to her childhood home. I was utterly glued, barely able to set this book down once I was halfway through and months later the ending still gives me chills! 4 stars
This is the kind of nonfiction book you’ll want all of your friends to read so you can talk to them about it when you’re done reading. Female friendship, especially in adulthood, is often anything but easy. This book gives voice to the unspoken feelings around making new friends, maintaining old friendships, and the heartache of friendship breakups. It’ll make you grateful as you reflect on who sits on your own life council and what seat you fill on the councils of your friends. 5 stars
One True Loves, Forever Interrupted, After I Do, & Maybe In Another Life by Taylor Jenkins Reid
I’m lumping all 4 of these books I’ve mentioned recently together because they were all 4-star reads for me. I’ve now read everything TJR has ever written, and I’ll forever and always preorder her new releases. I’m such a fan! And finally reading her backlist books really solidified my love for her writing. These four fictional romances are all very different and unique in their own way, but they all have that special TJR blend of great characters, plots that draw you in, and endings that leave you grateful for the way fiction encourages you to pause, reflect, and contemplate your own life choices.
What is it with me and London this year? As I’m writing this post, I’m realizing I’ve read quite a few books that were set in London. And for me, that just adds a layer of yummy richness to a story. Anyway, What Might Have Been was a quick, thought-provoking Sliding Doors style story in which the main character, Lucy, comes to a crossroads and we the reader get to see how one decision will affect the rest of her life. Whether she stays or she goes, the reader is taken along both paths. I could read a hundred stories just like this, and I’d probably love every single one. I LIVE for a “let’s see what happens behind both doors” type of story. And this one did not disappoint. 4 stars
I often struggle to rate nonfiction, specifically in the memoir category. But I did really enjoy Spare by Prince Harry. I’ve never been one to really follow royal news. I might be the only 40-something woman who has never cared to watch a royal wedding. Weddings in general, unless it’s a dear friend or family member, aren’t my cup of tea. Anyhow, I went into Spare back in January when it was released without any preconceived notions, and I thought it seemed very honest yet respectful. I know a lot of people found it whiny and disgraceful. But that wasn’t my takeaway at all.
The buzz around this book drew me to want to give it a read, and I’m glad I did although it was a mostly depressing read. I knew who Jenette McCurdy was through my kids, although ICarly was never really a show they watched all that regularly. This heartbreaking memoir by this former child actor is so well written, but her dark humor around traumatic experiences was a little off-putting at times. It should probably come with an eating disorder trigger warning.
I can not believe this memoir has been out in the world since 2005 and just this year I finally cracked it open. I’m sure I’m the last adult woman on Earth to have finally read Joan Didion’s account of the year following the death of her husband. But just in case you haven’t already, do it now. There’s no doubt the material is heartbreaking, but the writing is so honest and beautiful!
So much online buzz drew me to…
But I just could not get into this book. And I was left wondering why so many people loved it so much. The premise of this book had me really excited because like Anne of Green Gables I live for words. But the plot just moved way too slowly for me.
I think maybe all the hype surrounding this book set my expectations too high. I normally love a good family drama, but I just couldn’t get into this one. There was a confrontation I was really hoping for between two of the characters that never happened, and I found the ending underwhelming. I don’t need everything to be tied up with a bow but the unresolved issues in this story left me wanting.
I liked this one, but I didn’t love it. And it’s received overwhelmingly great reviews on Instagram, so I’m apparently alone in my feelings. But it was a 3-star read for me. It was good, but it’s not a book I’d recommend to a friend unless it’s the only book you have access to during a power outage. Too harsh?
Okay, your turn! What have you enjoyed reading lately?
If you love to read, you should totally join my Instagram book club! We’re currently reading The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver.
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