Can I even call myself a reader anymore? I’ve barely picked up a book these past few months, and when I do, I manage to read about 20 pages before falling asleep. The combination of quarantine boredom and adult responsibilities have left me wanting to simply veg out in front of Netflix rather than attempting to use my brain to read. By 6pm every night, I’m ready to turn that thing off and mindlessly watch an early-2000s TV show that I’ve already seen 5 times.
All of that said, I did manage to read a handful of books. Like, literally a handful… or even less than a handful. I only managed to read four books, okay. Yes, I read four books in three months. Feel free to drag me.
If you want to know what I (somehow) managed to read, click on!
(all summaries and covers courtesy of Goodreads)
1. Anna K by Jenny Lee
Every happy teenage girl is the same, while every unhappy teenage girl is miserable in her own special way.
Meet Anna K. At seventeen, she is at the top of Manhattan and Greenwich society (even if she prefers the company of her horses and Newfoundland dogs); she has the perfect (if perfectly boring) boyfriend, Alexander W.; and she has always made her Korean-American father proud (even if he can be a little controlling). Meanwhile, Anna’s brother, Steven, and his girlfriend, Lolly, are trying to weather a sexting scandal; Lolly’s little sister, Kimmie, is struggling to recalibrate to normal life after an injury derails her ice dancing career; and Steven’s best friend, Dustin, is madly (and one-sidedly) in love with Kimmie.
As her friends struggle with the pitfalls of ordinary teenage life, Anna always seems to be able to sail gracefully above it all. That is…until the night she meets Alexia “Count” Vronsky at Grand Central. A notorious playboy who has bounced around boarding schools and who lives for his own pleasure, Alexia is everything Anna is not. But he has never been in love until he meets Anna, and maybe she hasn’t, either. As Alexia and Anna are pulled irresistibly together, she has to decide how much of her life she is willing to let go for the chance to be with him. And when a shocking revelation threatens to shatter their relationship, she is forced to question if she has ever known herself at all.
Dazzlingly opulent and emotionally riveting, Anna K.: A Love Storyis a brilliant reimagining of Leo Tolstoy’s timeless love story, Anna Karenina―but above all, it is a novel about the dizzying, glorious, heart-stopping experience of first love and first heartbreak.
2 out of 5 stars
I genuinely think this book contributed to my reading slump. It took me forever to get through (we’re talking 3 months) and it felt like such a slog. I’m not sure if I disliked this book or if I just dislike Anna Karenina, I’m really not quite sure. Was it entertaining when I actually managed to force myself to read? Sure, for the most part. But there were too many characters, too much going on, and the pacing was astronomically slow. Plus, there was a certain Black character and I didn’t appreciate the way the author wrote him. Not a fan of this one.
2. Sadie by Courtney Summers
A missing girl on a journey of revenge. A Serial―like podcast following the clues she’s left behind. And an ending you won’t be able to stop talking about.
Sadie hasn’t had an easy life. Growing up on her own, she’s been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated small town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water.
But when Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a somewhat botched police investigation, Sadie is determined to bring her sister’s killer to justice and hits the road following a few meager clues to find him.
When West McCray―a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America―overhears Sadie’s story at a local gas station, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie’s journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it’s too late.
Courtney Summers has written the breakout book of her career. Sadie is propulsive and harrowing and will keep you riveted until the last page.
4.5 out of 5 stars
This book was so f*cking good (the podcast! the prose! the small town atmosphere!) but it made me SO angry, oh my god. It just made me want to burn everything down. And that ending… I wanted to scream. Please read this book, but make sure you’re mentally in a place to handle potential triggers such as pedophilia, child abuse, and rape.
3. Pledged: The Secret Life of Sororites by Alexandra Robbins
This New York Times bestseller is a fast-paced, behind-the-scenes book that blows the lid off the intriguing world of mainstream sorority life.
Alexandra Robbins wanted to find out if the stereotypes about sorority girls were actually true, so she spent a year with a group of girls in a typical sorority. The sordid behavior of sorority girls exceeded her worst expectations — drugs, psychological abuse, extreme promiscuity, racism, violence, and rampant eating disorders are just a few of the problems. But even more surprising was the fact that these abuses were inflicted and endured by intelligent, successful, and attractive women.
Why is the desire to belong to a sorority so powerful that women are willing to engage in this type of behavior — specially when the women involved are supposed to be considered “sisters”? What definition of sisterhood do many women embrace? Pledged combines a sharp-eyed narrative with extensive reporting and the fly-on-the-wall.
3 out of 5 stars
I mostly read this for research purposes for a story I want to (eventually) write. I was never in a sorority, but I had plenty of friends who were. This felt a little overly dramatized at times, but it served to remind me of and reintroduce me to certain terms and common themes of Greek life. Still an interesting read, but I’d take some of it with a grain of salt.
4. Bound by Honor by Cora Reilly
A modern mafia fairytale… Born into one of the leading mob families in Chicago, Aria Scuderi is a mafia princess known for her beauty. What many consider a gift means her doom when she’s forced to marry Luca Vitiello to bring peace between two mafia dynasties. Luca is the future Capo of the New York Famiglia, a man known for his brutality—and for crushing his cousin’s throat with his bare hands.
Aria is terrified of marrying a monster like him. He may be one of the most sought-after bachelors in New York, thanks to his good looks, wealth and predator-like charisma. But Aria knows the bad boy aura isn’t just a game; blood and death lurk beneath Luca’s striking gray eyes and arrogant smile.
In her world a handsome exterior often hides the monster within; a monster who can just as easily kill as kiss you.
Yet, there’s no escaping the arranged bond, much less a man like Luca. He’d follow her to the end of the world.
Her only chance to survive in a marriage with Luca is to gain his affection and work her way into his heart—even when rumor has it that Luca doesn’t have a heart to begin with.
A mafia princess known for her beauty given to a monstrous man. Even monsters have a heart. She has every intention of working her way into his.
1.75 out of 5 stars
Oh boy. Hmm. This one started off with the FMC as a 15 year old and the MMC at 20, and they’re getting engaged… yuck. But at least the MMC acknowledged she was a child, so I guess that’s… something. After about the third chapter or so she’s 18, but it still felt unbelievably gross. And he practically talks about raping her on their wedding night? I’m sorry, but no, I don’t care how ~~domineering~~ and ~~dangerous alpha male~~ you’re trying to make your love interest out to be, that’s not okay. “But Simone, he’s a dangerous mafia man!! You should expect this!!” Uh, sure, but it’s still incredibly off-putting for me to read. That’s not sexy.
All of that aside, I just didn’t particularly care for the writing style. There was a lot of “and this happened, and then this happened, and then that happened”; you never really got a good feel of anything. Plus, the first 50 pages felt unnecessary, like we weren’t starting in the action. It wasn’t particularly snappy or hooky. And honestly, you would have thought this was the mob in the early 1900s, not modern day.
Lastly, for how popular this book is, I also expected it have been edited at least slightly better. Repetitive language, unbearable dialogue, and strange sentence structure galore.
Well, at least I managed to read one great book. Does that count for anything? I’m really hoping that the rest of the year will be better for my reading goals, but I’m not expecting much to change. My job requires that I read and edit thousands (if not tens of thousands) of words a week, which puts me off of reading anything else. I just wanna watch Netflix, okay! But who knows, maybe I’ll get back to my reading roots.
Have you read anything good lately? Any suggestions for me? Let me know in the comments!