January is over! I’m actually a little shocked. Last year, January felt like it lasted forever but this year it has gone quite quickly for me. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve had my head down working non-stop, or if I’ve just been having more fun, but the month just flew by.
It was a decent month for books too. I managed to complete four, including one I started at the end of December and I already have my stack of books for February. According to Goodreads, I’m three books ahead of schedule for my 2019 reading challenge and as long as I’m on track or head I’m happy.
ALL THE LITTLE LIGHTS BY JAMIE MCGUIRE
The first time Elliott Youngblood spots Catherine Calhoun, he’s just a boy with a camera, and he’s never seen a sadder and more beautiful sight. Both Elliott and Catherine feel like outcasts, yet they find an easy friendship with each other. But when Catherine needs him most, Elliott is forced to leave town.
Elliott finally returns, but he and Catherine are now different people. He’s a star high school athlete, and she spends all her free time working at her mother’s mysterious bed-and-breakfast. Catherine hasn’t forgiven Elliott for abandoning her, but he’s determined to win back her friendship…and her heart.
Just when Catherine is ready to fully trust Elliott, he becomes the prime suspect in a local tragedy. Despite the town’s growing suspicions, Catherine clings to her love for Elliott. But a devastating secret that Catherine has buried could destroy whatever chance of happiness they have left.
You may have heard me rave about this book on Instagram, and I think it deserves all the praise it receives. The teenage love in this book is so pure and captivating, you’re really invested in the story before it even gets going. It has a total YA vibe which was nice to fall into, and the relationship between Catherine and Elliot was intriguing – from platonic to romantic.
Not only that, but the mysterious B&B Catherine runs with her mother had me curious through every chapter. The very strange guests, unique side characters and gloomy tragedy makes this book a really good read. It has all the cute romantic moments you experience in your teenage years, as well as a little heartbreak and just the right amount of mystery.
I would say this book was a little long, but the ending had me shook. I actually gasped when it all came together. There’s no other way to put it without spoilers, it’s really one of those books you need to pay careful attention to because all the details add to the story. It’s easy to follow, the characters are likeable and it’s a memorable tale.
DEAR MRS. BIRD BY AJ PEARCE
London, 1941. Amid the falling bombs Emmeline Lake dreams of becoming a fearless Lady War Correspondent. Unfortunately, Emmy instead finds herself employed as a typist for the formidable Henrietta Bird, the renowned agony aunt at Woman’s Friend magazine. Mrs Bird refuses to read, let alone answer, letters containing any form of Unpleasantness, and definitely not those from the lovelorn, grief-stricken or morally conflicted.
But the thought of these desperate women waiting for an answer at this most desperate of times becomes impossible for Emmy to ignore. She decides she simply must help and secretly starts to write back – after all, what harm could that possibly do?
I picked up this book after spotting it in the supermarket during the weekly shop. I had no new books to read and the cover caught my eye, so I thought I’d give it a try. I’m not the biggest fan of historical fiction just because I prefer something more contemporary. But it’s important to stretch out of your comfort zone and look for a favourite elsewhere, so I decided to begin with this short novel.
First of all, I really admire Emmy’s journalistic ambitions. She’s a strong young woman, who thinks like most women her age and has a pretty good head on her shoulders. It’s hard to take a liking to Mrs Bird, but I think that’s the point.
I actually found it really interesting reading about London during WWII, something I haven’t really done since school. The descriptions of the iconic city were really vivid and made it easy to imagine. Following Emmy’s journey working for Women’s Friend was humorous and enjoyable, but I did find myself getting a little jaded in places.
I think the book was a really good length for its story, but some details didn’t interest me as much as they should have. However, the characters were well developed and the writing was charming.
THE KISS QUOTIENT BY HELEN HOANG
It’s high time for Stella Lane to settle down and find a husband – or so her mother tells her. This is no easy task for a wealthy, successful woman like Stella, who also happens to have Asperger’s. Analysing data is easy; handling the awkwardness of one-on-one dates is hard. To overcome her lack of dating experience, Stella decides to hire a male escort to teach her how to be a good girlfriend.
Faced with mounting bills, Michael decides to use his good looks and charm to make extra cash on the side. He has a very firm no repeat customer policy, but he’s tempted to bend that rule when Stella approaches him with an unconventional proposal.
The more time they spend together, the harder Michael falls for this disarming woman with a beautiful mind, and Stella discovers that love defies logic.
THIS BOOK. Ugh. I don’t even know how to start. IT’S SO CUTE. It has badass chic with Asperger’s and a Vietnamese hero. What’s not to love?
This book was in my must-read list for a while, because so many people had raved about what an epic chick lit it was. If you love a bit of romance and fiction, read this ASAP. Stella Lane is an absolutely fascinating character. I work with many people who have different forms of autism in my day job, but it’s really nice to see things from Stella’s perspective as a high-functioning professional.
She’s a really inspiring young woman and this entranced Michael immediately. She’s very relatable, and so is Michael. I loved learning about his culture (his grandmother is the cutest), and looking up some of the cool dishes mentioned in the book. He’s an extremely talented young man with a good heart despite troubles in his life, which adds to the sweet story.
Stella isn’t ever seen as a victim, or the weaker character, and this was so important to the author.
This book has a couple of intimate scenes, but nothing so over the top I wanted to cringe. Overall, it’s a romance that has you rooting for the protagonists as soon as they meet. It made me literally laugh out loud, and I kinda want my own Michael now.
THE PROPOSAL BY JASMINE GUILLORY
When freelance writer Nikole Paterson goes to a Dodgers game in LA with her actor boyfriend, the last thing she expects is a scoreboard proposal. Saying no isn’t difficult – they’ve only been dating for five months, and he can’t even spell her name correctly. The hard part is having to face a stadium full of disappointed fans…
At the game with his sister, Carlos Ibarra comes to Nik’s rescue and rushes her away from a camera crew. He’s even there for her when the video goes viral and Nik’s social media goes crazy. Believing that neither of them are looking for anything serious, Nik embarks on an epic rebound with the handsome doctor, filled with food, fun, and fantastic sex. But when their glorified hookups start breaking the rules, will they be brave enough to admit what they’re really feeling?
I chose The Proposal after loving Guillory’s debut novel, The Wedding Date; which was listed as one of the books I’d re-read this year. I went into this book hoping for the best as it has a diverse selection of characters, including protagonists of colour, which isn’t always common in contemporary chick lit without a racism storyline.
Regrettably, this book just missed the mark for me and I wish I had loved it as much as the others! It wasn’t all that different to The Wedding Date in terms of plot development and characters, but I just wasn’t feeling it and it makes me so sad! I like Guillory as an author, so it’s possible I had high hopes, or maybe my taste in books has changed slightly as I try to explore new genres.
From the get-go, I wasn’t really that excited. Reading about Nik’s public proposal was definitely awkward which I think was the intention, and I actually liked her as a character but I found her relationship with Carlos dull and lacklustre. It didn’t make me laugh in the places it should have and I was tempted to skip parts or stop reading all together. Such a shame!
What books did you read this month?