Happy new reading year, fellow bookworms! Cheers to a lot of amazing books and lots of new discoveries! As per usual, this post includes my January 2023 book reviews.
Let’s see how I did this first month of the year.
Sam by Allegra Goodman
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House Canada Digital for my advanced digital copy to review.
This is how Goodreads describes it:
‘What happens to a girl’s exuberance and wonder as she becomes a woman? This unforgettable portrait of coming-of-age offers a powerful reflection on class, addiction, parenthood, longing, and ambition.
According to the author, SAM is about a young girl’s exuberance, wonder, and ambition as she comes of age.’
Although some of my favorite authors rate this book highly, I thought the writing level is below par. At least for a seasoned author. I did enjoy Sam’s story, and that is the only reason I powered through this book. The writing is that basic.
Maybe the author’s intended audience is elementary school children, I don’t know. I think even young adults will find the writing bad.
That being said, I did learn a few things about climbing, which I found pretty interesting. Also, Sam’s determination is a positive part of this book. But that’s about it.
Sorry, but I will not recommend this book to anyone.
Winter Street by Elin Hilderbrand
This is the first book by an author I had on my To Be Read shelf for a few years now.
‘The Quinn family gathers on Nantucket for a holiday filled with surprises.
Kelley Quinn is the owner of Nantucket’s Winter Street Inn and the proud father of four. They are all grown and living in varying states of disarray.
Patrick, the eldest, is a hedge fund manager with a guilty conscience.
Kevin, a bartender, is secretly sleeping with a French housekeeper named Isabelle.
Ava, a schoolteacher, is finally dating the perfect guy but can’t get him to commit.
And Bart, the youngest and only child of Kelley’s second marriage to Mitzi, has recently shocked everyone by joining the Marines.
Before the mulled cider is gone, the delightfully dysfunctional Quinn family will survive a love triangle, an unplanned pregnancy, a federal crime, a small house fire, and many shots of whiskey. All that and endless rounds of Christmas caroling in this heart-warming novel about coming home for the holidays.’
The setting of this book was perfect for a Christmas story. The delivery, not so much, in my opinion. This is my first Elin Hilderbrand, and I’m a little disappointed. I’ve been meaning to read her books for a while, and I thought I would love this one a lot more.
It was ok, don’t get me wrong, and a lighthearted holiday read, but that’s about it. It didn’t wow me, and I will probably leave it at this and not continue with the series.
I did buy Barefoot last year, which I haven’t read yet. I will eventually get to it and hope it’s a little better. But if not, this will be all I’m reading by this author.
If you’re looking for something light and fluffy to read, it’s ok. But it’s not a book I will recommend as a favorite, clearly.
It Starts With Us by Colleen Hoover
I listened to this book on audio, and I’m very glad I did. The narrators made this story so much more enjoyable than if I would have read it.
Here’s a brief description you can find on Goodreads:
‘Switching between the perspectives of Lily and Atlas, “It Starts with Us’ picks up right where the epilogue for the bestselling phenomenon “It Ends with Us” left off. This book reveals more about Atlas’s past and follows Lily as she embraces a second chance at true love. While navigating a jealous ex-husband Lily tries to move on with Atlas, for a chance at real happiness.’
I must say, although the story ended on a happy note, I did not like it as much as It Ends With Us. I’m still glad I read it, or should I say, listened to it, but this is probably the last Colleen Hoover book I’ll read for a while.
While most people feel very strongly about this author, I’m not one of them. While I enjoy her storytelling style, I find some of the details unnecessary and a bit irritating. But to go as far as to say that I hate her books is a hard no. Will I jump at the next book she will publish? Probably not, since I have a lot more books to get to that I will probably enjoy a lot more than any of her previous books. With all that being said, I did like this book but did not love it.
If you like a story that gives you hope and makes you feel all types of emotions, then go for it. The author does have a way of telling stories that will not leave you unmoved.
A Death at the Party by Amy Stuart
Thank you to NetGalley, Simon & Schuster Canada, and Amy Stuart for the advanced reader copy in exchange for my opinion.
‘In this tense, spellbinding thriller set over the course of a single day, a woman prepares for a party that goes dreadfully wrong.’ – This is the quick description you can find on Goodreads.
The book was fast-paced and kept me entertained from the very first page. This is the first book I read from the author, and it definitely won’t be my last.
Nadine Walsh, the main character, is very manipulative and unlikeable, but that is what makes the story even more believable. The whole story unfolds during an entire day, from morning until the end of the day when the party in question happens. With past references that unfold nicely towards the last third of the book, it is a well-narrated story that kept me on my toes until the end.
I like the way the author makes the story flow without getting stuck on unnecessary details. While there’s an aura of suspense and mystery which I find was well executed, I wouldn’t categorize it as a thriller. Definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a catchy mystery/suspense novel.
Pretty Girls by Karin Slaughter
I listened to this book on audio, and it was soo looong! Over 20 hours. That’s very long, considering the book is under 400 pages.
Here’s a brief synopsis from Goodreads:
‘Julia, Claire Scott’s eldest sister, went missing twenty years ago. No one knew where she went. She didn’t leave a note and her body was never found. It was a mystery that was never solved and it tore her family apart.
Now another girl has disappeared, and it seems that she might not be the only one.
Claire is convinced Julia’s disappearance is linked.
But when she begins to learn the truth about her sister, she is confronted with a shocking discovery.’
At first, I was planning to give up on this book, especially since I thought the narration was way too long. And my first experience with the author wasn’t great. But something urged me on and for once, I was happy I did. I powered through, and the story got really interesting. Messed up but in an intriguing way. I must say, the way the author weaved this story was well done, although I did have some issues with the book.
First of all, the whole cast of characters got on my nerves, but it’s possibly intentional on the author’s part. Not sure, but the only person I liked was the girls’ father.
Next, the premise of the book was unbelievable, but it was entertaining nevertheless.
And finally, all the Southern prejudices really riled me up.
It was still a great book to read if you’re into f***ed-up stories that keep you on the edge of your seat. And the ending wrapped up the story nicely. All in all, it was much better than Pieces of Her, in my opinion.
Hidden Pictures by Jason Rekulak
This is my second buddy read with my Instagram group, and it was so much better than our previous pick.
Hidden Pictures is a book about Malory, a woman working as a nanny for a young boy with strange and disturbing secrets.
I was very skeptical going into this book as I read mixed reviews about it. But the book pleasantly surprised me. The story was very well thought out, and the element of creepiness was just enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.
I must say, I enjoyed this book a lot more than I thought! The first quarter of the book was a little slow to start, but I think it was necessary in order to lay the foundation of the book. All that without dragging on too long, which I appreciated. But about 80% in, Holy Moly! Although in hindsight there were very subtle clues, I did not see that twist coming.
It was a fast-paced, can’t-put-it-down type of reading. I literally had to read ahead of our schedule, that’s just how invested I was in this book.
I’m not sure if it qualifies as a thriller, horror, mystery, ghost story, or all of the above, but it’s a book that’s very hard to put down once you pass a certain point in the story. Definitely worth the hype, in my opinion.
Au Contraire by Alonna Williams
Thank you to @katieandbreypa for the chance to discover new authors I would otherwise never hear of.
Synopsis as seen on Goodreads:
‘Arlo Kensington comes from an uptight, affluent family that’s been well-known in the country of North Indigo for years. After a major blunder with part of his inheritance, his older brothers, Gladstone and Pritchard arrange his marriage to Elonnie Wilhelm. The free-spirited ballerina comes from a wealthy family of entertainers that are new to the high society scene. She feels that people must try to see things through the eyes of a child.
Arlo is instantly disinterested in his whimsy bride-to-be, fearing that they’re too incompatible to work.
Will these two polar opposites make this inconvenient union function? Will Elonnie contain herself to become an uptight Kensington? Or will Arlo learn to loosen up and see life through the eyes of a child?’
I received this book a few days ago and to be honest, I was a bit skeptical at first. But the story was cute and a breeze to read. I did like the mismatched love interest, and I understand that this was a book that happened in a make-believe world in the 16th century. But I found the gender roles, immaturity, along with back-and-forth bantering between the main characters a bit too much.
I gave it three stars on Goodreads. I recommend it for fantasy lovers who like to escape the mundane reality of daily life. It is a nice entertaining read, that’s for sure.
The Drift by C.J. Tudor
Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for my advanced reader’s copy. The review contains my honest opinion.
According to Goodreads, ‘three ordinary people risk everything for a chance at redemption in this audacious, utterly gripping novel of catastrophe and survival at the end of the world.
The imminent dangers faced by Hannah, Meg, and Carter are each one part of the puzzle. Lurking in their shadows is an even greater threat–one that threatens to consume all of humanity.’
The book starts off with three different narrators that are not particularly likable.
In the last 10% of the book, the author tried to redeem the story and make sense of it, but I’m still confused. There were just too many storylines that didn’t seem to add up to the thrilling finale I was expecting. This book just didn’t do it for me, although I still gave it three stars. I thought the writing made up for the plot that was all over the place, hence my generous rating. This is the third book I read by this author, and it will be my last for a while. I enjoyed the Burning Girls the best out of them, but this one and The Hiding Place weren’t hits for me.
This sums up my January 2023 book reviews. I enjoyed a few of them, while a couple of them were disappointing. But that’s how it goes sometimes. It was still an impressive reading month by my standards. Reading eight books in a month is a lot for me, and I’m very happy with the overall results.
Have you read any of these books? If you did, what are your thoughts on them? You can leave me a comment in the box below and we can discuss any of them. Until next month, keep reading fellow bookworms.