January 2023 in Books

Boy, I really hope that January 2023 doesn’t set a precedence for how the rest of 2023 will be. Sure, I was in Mexico for week one [fantastic, got a great tan] but a week after getting back, my husband got the flu! Thankfully, I didn’t get his full blown sickness – it felt more like a cold. But I did get a horrible sinus infection and a cough that keeps me up at night every night. So… I really hope that 2023 gets better. And me along with it. I don’t know how I don’t have a six pack yet with all this coughing I’m doing.

Despite that, I was able to squeeze in some reading. This was a rollercoaster month. I had some (2) high highs and some (3) low lows. The books I didn’t like, I REALLY didn’t like. There weren’t a lot of middle of the road books. I’m all for the high highs, so keep them coming.

If you want to follow along with my book journey, follow me on GoodReads!

The League of Gentlewomen Witches [Dangerous Damsels #2] by India Holton

RATING: 4/5 Stars
This was one of my Jólabókaflóðið books from my husband for Christmas 2022. The funny thing about this book is that #1, it’s the second book of a series (which he didn’t notice and can we talk about how so many authors deliberately choose not to display when the book is in a series because it’s incredibly annoying). #2, I actually read the first book back in 2021 and had no idea there was a 2nd in the series (there’s about to be a 3rd). The nice thing about this series it that you can totally read the 2nd without having read the 1st because it is 2 different women’s stories but set in the same universe (and the woman from the first book does show up and help out). All that being said, I liked this one more than I liked the 1st (which I also very much liked). The premise is that there is a world where Victorian England was ruled by Pirates (who drive houses in the sky) and Witches (who pretended they weren’t witches because witches are illegal and can be burned at the stake). In this book, you follow Charlotte (NOT a witch……….. in case the cops are asking) as she attempts to pursue her destiny in being the next leader of (not) witches but gets tangled up with… DUN DUN DUN, her enemy 🙂 You know I love a good enemies to lovers and LET ME TELL YOU, this is a good enemies to lovers – although it’s not a very slow burn, which sometimes I’m okay with. It’s quick and to the point but they still snip at each other after they start getting together which is how it should be. If you can’t roast your partner, what are you doing with your life? If you love quirky fantasies with slightly weird world-building, this is for you. It’s a super easy read.

56 Days by Catherine Ryan Howard

RATING: 2/5 Stars
I got this book because I was at Barnes & Nobles and purchased a book on the “Buy 1, Get One 50% Off” table and couldn’t figure out my 2nd book. I asked an employee and she said this book was one of her new favorites. This is the last time I listen to a Barnes & Nobles employee.

Listen to this premise though, cause THAT’S what the 2 stars are for: It’s the VERY beginning of the pandemic in Dublin, Ireland when 2 people (a man and a woman) start up a relationship. They decide to move in together (despite only going on 2 dates) because you’re not allow to go see people from a different household. You get to see in the minds of both individuals… as well as the homicide detective who’s investigating the dead body that’s found 56 Days after lockdown started, in that exact apartment. You go back and forth in time and get to see days from both the man and the woman in the relationship and one of them has a ~secret~. Honestly, GREAT premise. Super into it. Executed horribly.

Without giving anything away (which is tough, there’s enough twists and turns to give Lombard Street a bad name), there’s a LOT of plot holes. The issue comes from the fact that you do get to see in both their minds but clearly, one of them in particular, is hiding a HUGE secret from us. In that person’s mind is almost like a journal they’re writing in the hopes of someone coming across it and believing that these are their inner thoughts, even though the journal was planted and these aren’t actually their inner thoughts, they just want you to think they are (a la Gone Girl… spoiler?? Sorry??). So why even try to pretend that this person is thinking in those terms? I feel like the author came up with one ending, then half way through was like “oh wait, what if I throw in this little twisty twist?”, changed the plot but didn’t fix what they already wrote, then about a quarter of the way from being finished, they were like “OH WAIT, what if I throw this OTHER twist in there?”, again, without going back to make sure that they updated the past with what they decided was the new NEW ending. I’m surprised I didn’t fall through the plot holes like Timmy in a well, waiting for Lassie to save me.

The Midnight Library by Matt Haig

RATING: 1/5 Stars
I hated this book. The more and more I thought about it, the more and more my eyes rolled. Many of my friends said they couldn’t even finish it. I powered through. First and foremost, I don’t love the concept. You’re thrown into the mind of a very depressed woman who ends up taking her own life within the first few chapters of the book. “The Midnight Library” is a limbo where she ends up. All the books in the library are basically her regrets – things that could have been that weren’t because she made a decision at one point. I’m not a fan of regrets. Life is life. You make decisions and you can’t take them back, but that makes you who you are. That decides what you get out of life. Sure, sometimes you feel like you made the wrong decision but who’s there to judge what’s the right decision versus the wrong decision? I don’t like the idea of living your life with regrets. It doesn’t help. I understand that this is a unique situation where you get to see how your life WOULD have been and you can live in it if you so choose. The catch? The MINUTE you’re feeling unsatisfied/unhappy, you get sucked back into the library. LISTEN. If you haven’t figured it out yet, life is not all sunshine and roses. You will be unhappy at times. So there’s a HUGE catch. Then there’s the fact that each life she’s thrown into, SHE DOESN’T REMEMBER. How are you supposed to be happy in a life you know nothing about? She has all her same memories and her same depression. There’s zero chance that this will even work because she’s pretty much thrown to the wolves. Speaking of, she doesn’t even try to pretend that she is a different person in these lives. In one of them, she doesn’t give up swimming and becomes an Olympic swimmer. She tells both her dad and brother something along the lines of, “Oh, you know, my favorite philosopher” – first of all, what a douche thing to say. Second, in this life you didn’t become a philosophy major remember? The main character also finds something wrong with every single life, almost like, these weren’t really her lives to live. Shocking, I know.

In the end, it’s another book written by a man who’s writing about the inner workings of a woman’s mind (not usually a good sign). I feel like this author went on some long camping or back packing trip (alone) and “found himself”. He came home, changed his entire life based on this new way of thinking and wanted to write The Alchemist (the book he absolutely read while on the trip, several times, and has annotated it himself and he’s going to spend the rest of his life mansplaining) but realized that that book has already been written so he decided to try for a little bit of a different angle and write it from a woman’s perspective to see if it’ll sell more. Seriously, don’t waste your time.

Fairy Tale by Stephen King

RATING: 5/5 Stars
Quote: “You never know where the trap doors are in your life, do you?”
Obviously, I loved this book. It is classic Stephen King – slow, wordy start but as soon as the ball is rolling, it doesn’t stop. It’s funny because I’m used to reading older King books. In those books, the “back in the day” comments are from the 1960s. Since this book is more modern times, the “back in the day” comments are from the early 2000s. That being said, since I’m about the proper age for the main character, I can tell you that the slang that King writes for him was absolutely not used back then (or maybe I’m just from California). The other thing I didn’t love about it was that in the beginning, the main character constantly references “the incident” and those types of things always remind me of those TikTok videos that say “Wait till the end!” and you automatically close out of the video because don’t tell me what to do. Just don’t reference “the incident” all the time, okay? I know you’ll eventually tell me. Anywho, this story sees our main character (a high school boy) who saves an old, grouchy man after he’s fallen off a ladder. The man has an old, seemingly grouchy German Shepherd who will need to be taken care of while the old man is in the hospital. Our MC becomes close with both the dog and the man so ends up taking care of him while he’s healing. But the old man has a secret, duh. Since the old man doesn’t have any family, next up is our MC who goes on the hero’s journey of a life time. I enjoyed how King created a fairy tale type world that curls its way through some of our stories (maybe these authors visited this magical place?) but he makes a lot of new stuff too. There’s no moral or ~lesson~, it’s just this kids hero journey and that was refreshing. My dad loved it as well and said it might be one of his favorites of King’s now (he’s literally read every Stephen King book).

Book Lovers by Emily Henry

RATING: 2/5 Stars
Quote: “That’s the thing about women. There’s no good way to be one. Wear your emotions on your sleeve and you’re hysterical. Keep them tucked away where your boyfriend doesn’t have to tend to them and you’re a heartless bitch.”

I have read 3 Emily Henry books. 2/3 were not good. Beach Read is great. I’m not sure I’d read a 4th book of hers at this point.

This was someone who wanted to do enemies to lovers but then decided maybe enemies to friends to lovers but then didn’t like that and maybe thought enemies to lovers would work and my GOD please just stop. There was way too much back and forth in the romance department. I do have to say, I really enjoyed the Prologue and was excited to get into this book. It had a lot of spot on comparisons to “Small Town Romances” (aka: Hallmark movies) and the stone cold New Yorker girlfriend (which our Main Character is). I think that one of the things that really bothered me was the relationship between the main character and her sister. Sure, maybe best friend sisters exist, but I know a lot of women who have sisters and we don’t have that. Ever. The relationship seemed so forced and faked. Additionally, It feels like every author who writes about “the working woman” has never actually been a working woman. As the daughter of one and being one myself, I can tell you that I have a very active social life with a good amount of friends. It’s actually possible for working women who have friends, I assure you. Our main character here only seems to have her sister who is, of course, the literal opposite of her and she’s the one who takes care of everything and always lives her life to take care of her sister and blah blah blah. The main characters’ backstory popped up CONSTANTLY and annoyingly. We get it. We understand why you “are the way that you are”. The thing about the “Stone Cold New York Bitch” is that she never feels like she has to explain herself to anyone. That’s her whole deal. But not here. She and her beau are both so “pick me” and unrelatable. Our MC needs years of therapy and an understanding that her constantly giving up her life to do things for others is actually really selfish. Okay back to the dude. Their email flirting makes me want to BARF. It’s so forced. Their flirting, in general is so forced. The whole relationship is so forced. While on that topic, can we please find another word for a hot dude – I’m over “Adonis”. I wanted a fun, quick, romance after a lengthy King book and I’m sad I actually got this one.

Have you read any of these books? Have I convinced you (or not) to read any of these? What was your favorite book to read in January?

2 thoughts on “January 2023 in Books

    1. Ahhh! I know quite a few people who did love Book Lovers. To be honest, I might be comparing it a lot to Beach Read (which I did like). I think, in the end, I really disliked the main character and it made it hard for me to actually like the book. I think writing this comment made me realize how much I actually have to like the main character haha

      Liked by 1 person

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