Well, one month of 2021 down, 11 more to go. We all said 2021 wouldn’t be just another 2020 and so far, so bad. But hey, there’s still time to turn it all around!
And on the plus side, I started the year off with a great reading month. I read five books total: two romances, two fantasies, and one non-fiction. The lowest rating I gave was 3.5 stars, while the highest was 5 (twice!). I was also lucky enough to read and review an ARC of one of my most anticipated books of the year. I also read one of the books on my 2021 TBR (full list here).
From romance to fantasy to non-fiction, here are my thoughts on all the books I read in January.
Summary: With her newly completed PhD in astronomy in hand, twenty-eight-year-old Grace Porter goes on a girls’ trip to Vegas to celebrate. She’s a straight A, work-through-the-summer certified high achiever. She is not the kind of person who goes to Vegas and gets drunkenly married to a woman whose name she doesn’t know…until she does exactly that.
This one moment of departure from her stern ex-military father’s plans for her life has Grace wondering why she doesn’t feel more fulfilled from completing her degree. Staggering under the weight of her father’s expectations, a struggling job market and feelings of burnout, Grace flees her home in Portland for a summer in New York with the wife she barely knows.
In New York, she’s able to ignore all the annoying questions about her future plans and falls hard for her creative and beautiful wife, Yuki Yamamoto. But when reality comes crashing in, Grace must face what she’s been running from all along— the fears that make us human, the family scars that need to heal and the longing for connection, especially when navigating the messiness of adulthood.
My Thoughts: This book has such a good foundation and explores such great themes, but it feels a little lacking in execution. I love close friendships and found families, but the ones in this book feel a little forced to me. Grace’s internal struggle also suffers from a lot of telling rather than showing. Her romance with Yuki has some killer lines, but I wanted a little more development on that front. Don’t get me wrong, this book was good. I just think it could’ve used a little more work and edits. Still, it’s a pretty good debut and I would read more by Rogers. Check out my full review here!
Summary: Today’s feminist movement has a glaring blind spot, and paradoxically, it is women. Mainstream feminists rarely talk about meeting basic needs as a feminist issue, argues Mikki Kendall, but food insecurity, access to quality education, safe neighborhoods, a living wage, and medical care are all feminist issues. All too often, however, the focus is not on basic survival for the many, but on increasing privilege for the few.
That feminists refuse to prioritize these issues has only exacerbated the age-old problem of both internecine discord and women who rebuff at carrying the title. Moreover, prominent white feminists broadly suffer from their own myopia with regard to how things like race, class, sexual orientation, and ability intersect with gender. How can we stand in solidarity as a movement, Kendall asks, when there is the distinct likelihood that some women are oppressing others?
My Thoughts: This was a really informative book! Though I came into it with prior knowledge of intersectional feminism, Kendall digs deeper into why it matters. She also explains why certain issues like hunger and homelessness are feminist issues, a perspective I hadn’t reconsidered before. I definitely recommend this book if you’re looking to broaden your understanding of feminism and learn how to better help marginalized communities.
Summary: After a disastrous blind date, Darcy Lowell is desperate to stop her well-meaning brother from playing matchmaker ever again. Love— and the inevitable heartbreak— is the last thing she wants. So she fibs and says her latest set up was a success. Darcy doesn’t expect her lie to bite her in the ass.
Elle Jones, one of the astrologers behind the popular Twitter account, Oh My Stars, dreams of finding her soul mate. But she knows it is most assuredly not Darcy… a no-nonsense stick-in-the-mud, who is way too analytical, punctual, and skeptical for someone as free-spirited as Elle. When Darcy’s brother— and Elle’s new business partner— expresses how happy he is that they hit it off, Elle is baffled. Was Darcy on the same date? Because… awkward.
When Darcy begs Elle to play along, she agrees to pretend they’re dating to save face. But with a few conditions: Darcy must help Elle navigate her own overbearing family over the holidays and their arrangement expires on New Year’s Eve. The last thing they expect is to develop real feelings during a fake relationship.
But maybe opposites can attract when true love is written in the stars?
My Thoughts: This is the F/F romcom I’ve been searching for! It has the characters, the chemistry, the humor, the smut, the everything I’ve been needing and finding lacking in other books. I loved every second of this book and was smiling the whole time. The HP references are regrettable, but other than that this was a perfect book. I loved it so much.
Summary: Piranesi’s house is no ordinary building: its rooms are infinite, its corridors endless, its walls are lined with thousands upon thousands of statues, each one different from all the others. Within the labyrinth of halls an ocean is imprisoned; waves thunder up staircases, rooms are flooded in an instant. But Piranesi is not afraid; he understands the tides as he understands the pattern of the labyrinth itself. He lives to explore the house.
There is one other person in the house— a man called The Other, who visits Piranesi twice a week and asks for help with research into A Great and Secret Knowledge. But as Piranesi explores, evidence emerges of another person, and a terrible truth begins to unravel, revealing a world beyond the one Piranesi has always known.
My Thoughts: This book is like a puzzle you slowly piece together (a bit faster than the protagonist, but that’s intentional). It’s beautifully written with memorable characters. The mystery is so compelling. The book is a bit slow to start, but it picks up around the 40% mark. All in all, this was a good book.
Summary: The Jazz Age is in full swing, but Casiopea Tun is too busy cleaning the floors of her wealthy grandfather’s house to listen to any fast tunes. Nevertheless, she dreams of a life far from her dusty small town in southern Mexico. A life she can call her own.
Yet this new life seems as distant as the stars, until the day she finds a curious wooden box in her grandfather’s room. She opens it— and accidentally frees the spirit of the Mayan god of death, who requests her help in recovering his throne from his treacherous brother. Failure will mean Casiopea’s demise, but success could make her dreams come true.
In the company of the strangely alluring god and armed with her wits, Casiopea begins an adventure that will take her on a cross-country odyssey from the jungles of Yucatán to the bright lights of Mexico City— and deep into the darkness of the Mayan underworld.
My Thoughts: Moreno-Garcia has officially made herself an auto-buy author with this book. The story reads like an old fairy tail but more fleshed out, largely inspired by Mayan mythology. The world and mythos is so lush and immersive. And I fell head over heels for these characters, especially Casiopea and Hun-Kamé. I highly, highly recommend this fantastic story.
What books did you read in January? Tell me about them in the comments!