Simone Read What? – November & December ’20

Happy almost 2021! I cannot wait to put this year behind me. While professionally this year has certainly been the best of my life, everything else sucked! A lot! And that included my reading.

At the beginning of the year, I had the lofty goal of reading 60 books. It really didn’t seem like that big of a number, especially considering I managed to read 50 books in 2019. Plus, with my schedule and all the traveling I was doing in the second half of 2019 and the start of 2020 (before Everything Changed) it seemed like I had plenty of uninterrupted reading time ahead of me. Oh, how wrong I was!

All things considered, I read 45 books this year. And I’m proud of that! After starting a new job in June and reading a ton of content for work, I kind of think it’s amazing I read anything after that point.

As for my reading choices, I definitely went lighter and shorter for the most part. I just didn’t have the bandwidth for very many long, heavy stories this year. I also had a Kindle Unlimited trial, so that definitely contributed to those types of titles. While I didn’t love a lot of what I read there, it was very interesting to see what’s currently popular on the self-published romance market.

I can’t say I wrapped up the year on a high note (I only read 5 books in 2 months, ha) but here’s what I read in November and December!

(all summaries and covers courtesy of Goodreads)

1. Cherry Lips by Athena Wright

Recording contract. Adoring fans. Industry respect.

I have everything I always wanted.

But I’m so close to f*cking it up.

All because of him.

Liam Knight. My musical idol. My inspiration. My savior.

He stirs up feelings I’ve forgotten, memories I’ve suppressed. I want his lips on mine. I want his hands on my skin. I want his arms wrapped around me, never letting go.

Liam says I’m a star. We both are. He says we’ll burn brighter together.

But I know better. I had it all once. And I lost it. I’ll never let that happen again.

Because, sometimes, after a star burns out…

It collapses into a black hole, consuming everything in its path.

1.75 out of 5 stars

This was meh. A very quick read, but still… didn’t really hook me at any point. Clunky dialogue, characters that I felt zero emotional connection with, and a relatively boring plot line. It wasn’t bad but it wasn’t very good either. I didn’t actively hate the book, so it gets more than just 1 star, but I don’t think it really deserves a full 2.

2. Looking to Score by Carrie Gray & Coralee June

He’s like literally the worst.

Oakley Davis is the star running back at our University, and the reason I’ve broken my vow to avoid the college party scene. Thanks to a mixup with my advisor, I’m now serving my Public Relations internship as a glorified babysitter to the party-hard football players.

Specifically, Oakley.

He’s impossible to manage. His Instagram is full of half-naked, drunk photos and he’d rather attend parties than practice. His brand needs some serious work, and when he’s not driving me insane, he’s sleeping his way through the entire female population.

But I’m determined. I have plans to graduate a semester early and nothing or no one will get in my way. I’m a Virgo, after all. Oakley Davis might be a privileged, cocky, football star, but I’m Amanda Matthews; and I’ll do whatever it takes to get my A.

I have to make sure I don’t end up falling in love with the idiot, first.

2.5 out of 5 stars

This was pretty entertaining, but the FMC’s internal monologue was so annoying. The authors tried to pull of that ~I’m quirky and I say Oh My Lanta!! all the time~ thing which is just incredibly cringe-worthy to me. It doesn’t make your character special, it just makes them insufferable.

Minus that, the story was okay, but I never felt that sense of conflict or driving factor. Plus the MMC did a 180 so fast and seemed like a completely different character by the end of the book; character development is one thing, but this was just someone else completely.

3. Ruthless People by J.J. McAvoy

To the outside world, they look like American Royalty, giving to charities, feeding the homeless, rebuilding the city. But behind closed doors is a constant battle for dominance between two Bosses, cultures, and hearts.

Ruthless People is a romantic crime fiction set in modern day Chicago, following the life and marriage of Melody Nicci Giovanni and Liam Callahan—rivals by blood and leaders through fear. Their marriage was arranged by their fathers in hopes to end years of bloodshed between the Irish and the Italians.

Liam, next in line to lead the Irish, believes he’s getting a simple-minded wife, one he can control, one who bends to his every need . . . the complete opposite of Melody. Bred to be a Boss, a world-class marksman, master of disguise, with no mercy and no fear. Twenty-four years later, she has achieved more than any man could even dream of, killing anyone who steps in her way. She knows exactly what type of man Liam is, and she would rather die than give up the power she has spent her whole life building. But with no other family left, she must not only learn to work with Liam, but the whole Callahan clan.

The Mafia of the past is evolving, and with rival bosses gunning for them, Melody and Liam will have to figure out how to work as one to take down those who stand in their way, all while keeping up appearances.

1 out of 5 stars

This read like something I would have written at 14 about the mob with only the knowledge of mob movies and Wikipedia articles. I cannot express how bad this was. The writing was truly terrible, no research was done, and all the characters were insufferable. I will never understand the good ratings this book has. I couldn’t even finish it, and I rarely DNF a book.

4. Parachutes by Kelly Yang

Speak enters the world of Gossip Girl in this modern immigrant story from New York Times bestselling author Kelly Yang about two girls navigating wealth, power, friendship, and trauma.

They’re called parachutes: teenagers dropped off to live in private homes and study in the US while their wealthy parents remain in Asia. Claire Wang never thought she’d be one of them, until her parents pluck her from her privileged life in Shanghai and enroll her at a high school in California. Suddenly she finds herself living in a stranger’s house, with no one to tell her what to do for the first time in her life. She soon embraces her newfound freedom, especially when the hottest and most eligible parachute, Jay, asks her out.

Dani De La Cruz, Claire’s new host sister, couldn’t be less thrilled that her mom rented out a room to Claire. An academic and debate-team star, Dani is determined to earn her way into Yale, even if it means competing with privileged kids who are buying their way to the top. When her debate coach starts working with her privately, Dani’s game plan veers unexpectedly off course.

Desperately trying to avoid each other under the same roof, Dani and Claire find themselves on a collision course, intertwining in deeper and more complicated ways, as they grapple with life-altering experiences. Award-winning author Kelly Yang weaves together an unforgettable modern immigrant story about love, trauma, family, corruption, and the power of speaking out.

4.5 out of 5 stars

This was a great, extremely relevant read about cultural divides, elitism, racism, and sexual assault. It made me so angry at times, but that was the point—I was angry at the injustice. This was a tough one to get through, especially in the second half of the book, but it was still a very important read. I do feel like it could have explored certain things a little more, although in that case, the book probably would have been twice as long, and it was already long enough.

The only thing I didn’t like was that Dani and Claire sounded a little too similar, making it hard to tell them apart at times. Still, a great book.

5. Focused by Karla Sorensen

If you’ve ever seen your teenage crush ten years later, and he turns out to be a complete jerk, then you know how Molly Ward feels.

The last time she saw Noah Griffin was the regrettable day that she decided to climb into his bedroom window and turn her unrequited crush into something more.

That day was bad enough, but things are about to get worse.

Noah has become one of the best football players in the country, and he’s just landed on Molly’s front step.

As a new addition to the Washington Wolves roster, Noah’s presence is the key to Molly’s promotion in the front office.

The problem is, Noah wants nothing to do with Molly, and his surly attitude is making her job very difficult.

But he’s got another thing coming if he thinks Molly will be intimidated by one grumpy football player, no matter how much he hates being around her.

Once these two go head to head, their mutual dislike explodes into undeniable chemistry. But with what they have at stake, they just might detonate everything else along with it. 

1.75 out of 5 stars

Even though this book is technically a standalone, I knew within the first eight pages that I was missing something. There were references to characters and their husbands/wives that made it clear that this book was linked to something else. I don’t know about y’all, but I hate that. Tell me what book is first!! Tell me why I should care about these couples that keep being mentioned!!

Despite that annoyance, this book was just okay. It wasn’t particularly memorable—just another dime a dozen sports romance—and I wasn’t a fan of the FMC/her behavior. Plus, once again, it definitely needed better editing.

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Good riddance 2020! Next year I’m definitely going to be setting my reading goal lower and I’m hoping to make a dent in the hundreds of physical books that are sitting unread on my shelves. I’m crossing my fingers 2021 will be a better year for us all, but uhh… we’ll have to wait and see.

Have you read anything good lately? Any suggestions for me? Let me know in the comments! Happy new year!

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