While end of the year round-ups are fun, I figured I’d do monthly ones too. So if you’re interested in seeing what I’ve read this month and what I thought about them, please do read on!
(all summaries and covers from Goodreads)
1. The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?
4.5 out of 5 stars
Wow, this one hit close to home. Literally, because it was set in the Washington, D.C. area and mentioned quite a few places I’m familiar with. Honestly, the first line hit me square in the chest (“I’m on the toilet at the 9:30 Club, and I’m wondering how mermaids pee.”) because the 9:30 Club used to be one of my haunts when I was a teenager and rushing to get to the Metro before it closes is honestly still the Story of My Life.
This book felt like a reflection of my own life and mind in various ways, but one of the biggest was body image and the dread of wondering how other people view you. Oof. There were so many lines that just punched me straight in the gut because, ha ha ahhh oh God, that’s me, that’s how I feel about myself.
Honestly, this was one of those books where I really wanted to just read it all in one go because it was so good, but I had to keep taking breaks to laugh awkwardly after all the gut-punches. Still very much worth it, though.
2. The Towering Sky (The Thousandth Floor #3) by Katharine McGee
In this breathtaking finale to The Thousandth Floor trilogy, Katharine McGee returns to her vision of 22nd-century New York: a world of startling glamour, dazzling technology, and unthinkable secrets. After all, when you have everything… you have everything to lose.
2.5 out of 5 stars
Okay, I honestly hate comparing books and authors to each other, but this series is pretty much just Gossip Girl in the future. None of the characters are particularly likeable, the drama is usually pretty cringey, and it’s all about money, money, money. Those are things I usually don’t mind in YA (a lot of the books I read as a teen and loved featured stuff like that) but with this entire series I just found myself… a little underwhelmed.
It’s not to say it’s a bad series, because I did enjoy this to a degree. But after The Thousandth Floor (Book #1 in the series), I wasn’t sure if I was going to read books #2 and #3. And yet, here I am because I can’t resist books about rich kids!
This book was the weakest of the series, just barely edging out book #2. It was entirely too long and I was so tired of the Atlas/Avery drama—a relationship I found Extremely Gross in the first place. But I do like the creativity of the new technologies McGee incorporates, her style of writing, and the absolutely beautiful covers.
3. Beautiful Bastard by Christina Lauren
An ambitious intern. A perfectionist executive. And a whole lot of name calling.
Whip-smart, hardworking, and on her way to an MBA, Chloe Mills has only one problem: her boss, Bennett Ryan. He’s exacting, blunt, inconsiderate—and completely irresistible. A Beautiful Bastard.
Bennett has returned to Chicago from France to take a vital role in his family’s massive media business. He never expected that the assistant who’d been helping him from abroad was the gorgeous, innocently provocative—completely infuriating—creature he now has to see every day. Despite the rumors, he’s never been one for a workplace hookup. But Chloe’s so tempting he’s willing to bend the rules—or outright smash them—if it means he can have her. All over the office.
As their appetites for one another increase to a breaking point, Bennett and Chloe must decide exactly what they’re willing to lose in order to win each other.
Originally only available online as The Office by tby789 — and garnering over 2 million reads on fanfiction sites — Beautiful Bastard has been extensively updated for re-release.
1.5 out of 5 stars
Book: “READ OVER TWO MILLION TIMES ONLINE”
Me: wait, was this…
Book: “MANY FANS CONSIDER [the version of this book that was originally posted online] TO BE THE BEST…”
Me: don’t say it, don’t be what I think you are
Book: “…TWILIGHT FANFIC EVER.”
Me: oh my god
Let me tell you, as soon as I saw that, I almost closed this book. I can’t do this, y’all. I cannot deal with yet another “this was originally Twilight fanfic, but we turned it into original fiction instead so we could publish it” book. I can’t. It ruins everything for me. There is nothing I can do to stop myself from seeing a sparkling vampire as the MMC. I don’t want that. I feel physical pain.
But… I read it anyway.
I’ve read Christina Lauren’s Wild Seasons series previously and liked it for the most part. All the books were quick, relatively steamy reads that played on some enjoyable tropes, so I figured this would be more of the same.
Spoiler alert, but these two—a boss and employee—are literally Getting It On in the first chapter, less than twenty pages in. Twenty pages!! First of all, that is a sexual harassment suit waiting to happen, and second, there was literally no build up to it. It was just “oh wah, wah, I hate my boss and my boss hates me… and now we’re Doing It in the conference room.” I almost DNF’d it at that point, but I trucked on, cringing all the way.
It, um, didn’t get much better.
Look, y’all, I love a good steamy book, but this just wasn’t cutting it. I did a lot of grimacing for like 300 pages. The dialogue wasn’t very good, the sex scenes were incredibly repetitive, and there was honestly no plot/story. But will I read the rest of the books in this series? Probably! My library has ’em all and sometimes you just need a quick read for a laugh.
4. P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.
3.5 out of 5 stars
I absolutely adored To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before. I was eager to start the second book after I finished it, but ended up giving myself some time to read other things before jumping into it, so it was nice to return to Lara Jean’s little world.
I love Han’s style of writing and Lara Jean’s voice. It feels like stepping back into teenage innocence, filtered with a slight pink haze. However, I felt like this book was almost unnecessary, and kind of wished the first book had just been a standalone. As much as I love Lara Jean’s world, this book made me feel like I didn’t really need to be there, that nothing new was really happening.
Sure, things happened, but nothing really happened. Does that make sense? No? Just me, then?
Still, I enjoyed this, but I didn’t particularly need it. (But after this I’m totally team John Ambrose McLaren)
5. Roomies by Christina Lauren
Marriages of convenience are so…inconvenient.
For months Holland Bakker has invented excuses to descend into the subway station near her apartment, drawn to the captivating music performed by her street musician crush. Lacking the nerve to actually talk to the gorgeous stranger, fate steps in one night in the form of a drunken attacker. Calvin Mcloughlin rescues her, but quickly disappears when the police start asking questions.
Using the only resource she has to pay the brilliant musician back, Holland gets Calvin an audition with her uncle, Broadway’s hottest musical director. When the tryout goes better than even Holland could have imagined, Calvin is set for a great entry into Broadway—until his reason for disappearing earlier becomes clear: he’s in the country illegally, his student visa having expired years ago.
Seeing that her uncle needs Calvin as much as Calvin needs him, a wild idea takes hold of her. Impulsively, she marries the Irishman, her infatuation a secret only to him. As their relationship evolves and Calvin becomes the darling of Broadway—in the middle of the theatrics and the acting-not-acting—will Holland and Calvin to realize that they both stopped pretending a long time ago?
2.5 out of 5 stars
Yes, it’s another Christina Lauren book, but in my defense, I put this on hold at the library a while ago and all the books just seemed to become available at the same time. Thankfully, this one wasn’t a former Twilight fanfic! Hooray!!
This is definitely the most fleshed out book by them that I’ve read so far. Usually their stuff tends to jump straight to the sexy times, but this one… well, it actually had a solid plot. Honestly, while I was reading I kind of had to wonder if this really was a Christina Lauren book.
That said, I found myself pretty bored several times throughout. It just seemed to drag. I understand that it was supposed to be a slow burn, but part of me feels like the stakes weren’t high enough, or that I just couldn’t bring myself to care all that much about the plight of the characters.
So, once again, this wasn’t a bad book… just a kind of boring one.
6. Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan
Each year, eight beautiful girls are chosen as Paper Girls to serve the king. It’s the highest honor they could hope for…and the most cruel.
But this year, there’s a ninth girl. And instead of paper, she’s made of fire.
In this lush fantasy, Lei is a member of the Paper caste, the lowest and most oppressed class in Ikhara. She lives in a remote village with her father, where the decade-old trauma of watching her mother snatched by royal guards still haunts her. Now, the guards are back, and this time it’s Lei they’re after–the girl whose golden eyes have piqued the king’s interest.
Over weeks of training in the opulent but stifling palace, Lei and eight other girls learn the skills and charm that befit being a king’s consort. But Lei isn’t content to watch her fate consume her. Instead, she does the unthinkable–she falls in love. Her forbidden romance becomes enmeshed with an explosive plot that threatens the very foundation of Ikhara, and Lei, still the wide-eyed country girl at heart, must decide just how far she’s willing to go for justice and revenge.
TW: violence and sexual abuse.
3.5 out of 5 stars
I feel like I’ve been waiting ages to read this book. Finally, I managed to get my hands on it, and for the first third of the book, I couldn’t seem to put it down. I was enthralled. However, when I hit the middle bit, things sort of stalled, and I found the ending slightly anticlimactic.
As for the positives: I love the concept. The world building was absolutely gorgeous and made it easy to imagine the lush setting inside the palace. The forbidden romance was also spot on.
On the flip side, I can’t say I liked the main character all that much. Of course, you don’t have to like the main character to enjoy the book, but her characterization was a little “meh” to me. Plus, I genuinely dislike when writers equate MCs “talking back” (and most of the time saying something absolutely stupid) to bravery. Okay, so they speak up and say something bold/daring to someone they’re not supposed to. That’s not necessarily being brave. In a lot of these cases, that’s being foolish.
I think I might have enjoyed this more had the MC been different, but overall, it was still a great read.
I read a little more this month than I thought I would! It’s probably a good thing, because I know there will be months when I don’t have time or don’t feel like reading anything, so it’s nice to have a little lead on my challenge.
Have you read any of these books? What were your thoughts? Let me know in the comments!