It’s been almost 3 months since my last reading list. I read nine books in that time, which seems a little light, but it is what it is. While there wasn’t a clear standout in this bunch, most of the books were all good reads that I’d recommend.
Reading List: No. 14
ONE // Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory: Dating is the last thing on Olivia Monroe’s mind when she moves to LA to start her own law firm. But when she meets a gorgeous man at a hotel bar and they spend the entire night flirting, she discovers too late that he is none other than hotshot junior senator Max Powell. Olivia has zero interest in dating a politician, but when a cake arrives at her office with the cutest message, she can’t resist—it is chocolate cake, after all. Olivia is surprised to find that Max is sweet, funny, and noble—not just some privileged white politician, as she assumed him to be. Because of Max’s high-profile job, they start seeing each other secretly, which leads to clandestine dates and silly disguises. But when they finally go public, the intense media scrutiny means people are now digging up her rocky past and criticizing her job, even her suitability as a trophy girlfriend. Olivia knows what she has with Max is something special, but is it strong enough to survive the heat of the spotlight?
Party of Two was my second foray into Jasmine Guillory books. I am a fan. The women are smart and strong. I was rooting for Olivia and Max.
- Rating: 3
TWO // The Wedding Party by Jasmine Guillory: Maddie and Theo have two things in common: 1. Alexa is their best friend, 2. They hate each other. After an “oops, we made a mistake” night together, neither one can stop thinking about the other. With Alexa’s wedding rapidly approaching, Maddie and Theo both share bridal party responsibilities that require more interaction with each other than they’re comfortable with. Underneath the sharp barbs they toss at each other is a simmering attraction that won’t fade. It builds until they find themselves sneaking off together to release some tension when Alexa isn’t looking, agreeing they would end it once the wedding is over. When it’s suddenly pushed up and they only have a few months left of secret rendezvouses, they find themselves regretting that the end is near. Two people this different can’t possibly have a connection other than the purely physical, right?
I followed Party of Two with another Jasmine Guillory novel, but couldn’t get into this one at all. A lot of other people really enjoyed it, but I didn’t have any connection with the leads and gave up halfway through. Life is too short to slog through a book you aren’t into!
- Rating: 1
THREE // A Sky Painted Gold by Laura Wood: Growing up in her sleepy Cornish village dreaming of being a writer, seventeen-year-old Lou has always wondered about the grand Cardew house which has stood empty for years. And when the owners arrive for the summer – a handsome, dashing brother and sister – Lou is quite swept off her feet and into a world of moonlit cocktail parties and glamour beyond her wildest dreams. But, as she grows closer to the Cardews, is she abandoning her own ambitions… And is there something darker lurking at the heart of the Cardew family? A gorgeously dreamy coming-of-age romance set against a stunning Gatsby-esque backdrop.
A Sky Painted Gold was the first book I read in 2021. It was a great book to start the year. It has The Great Gatsby vibes and had me dreaming of summer, sunshine and dressing up for fancy parties.
- Rating: 4
FOUR // This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens: Minnie Cooper knows two things with certainty: that her New Year’s birthday is unlucky, and that it’s all because of Quinn Hamilton, a man she’s never met. Their mothers gave birth to them at the same hospital just after midnight on New Year’s Day, but Quinn was given the cash prize for being the first baby born in London in 1990–and the name Minnie was meant to have, as well. When Minnie unexpectedly runs into Quinn at a New Year’s party on their mutual thirtieth birthday, she sees only more evidence that fortune has continued to favor him. The gorgeous, charming business owner truly seems to have it all–while Minnie’s on the brink of losing her pie-making company and her home. But if Quinn and Minnie are from different worlds, why do they keep bumping into each other? And why is it that each fraught encounter leaves them both wanting more?
I read This Time Next Year in December and would highly recommend it as a holiday read. I wanted to learn more about Minnie and Quinn’s past and was rooting for them to keep running into each other.
- Rating: 3
FIVE // Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen: It’s the height of the Palm Beach charity ball season: for every disease or cause, there’s a reason for the local luminaries to eat (minimally), drink (maximally), and be seen. But when a prominent high-society dowager suddenly vanishes during a swank gala, and is later found dead in a concrete grave, panic and chaos erupt. Kiki Pew was notable not just for her wealth and her jewels–she was an ardent fan of the Winter White House resident just down the road, and a founding member of the POTUSSIES, a group of women dedicated to supporting their President. Never one to miss an opportunity to play to his base, the President immediately declares that Kiki was the victim of rampaging immigrant hordes. This, it turns out, is far from the truth.
Squeeze Me isn’t my normal genre, but my mom read it and assured me I would find it entertaining. She wasn’t wrong! I’m still a little leery of the premise, but it’s a fun read particularly if you are not a fan of former President Trump.
- Rating: 3
SIX // The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany by Lori Nelson Spielman: Follows a trio of second-born daughters as they set out on a whirlwind journey through the lush Italian countryside to break the family curse that says they’ll never find love.
I enjoy a book with a crazy grandparent or aunt, which The Star-Crossed Sisters of Tuscany has. I found myself invested in the main characters and their journey to find love. I especially liked the ending – it didn’t end abruptly when it could have.
- Rating: 3.5
SEVEN // Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert: In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration.
I read Big Magic primarily because it was Bad on Paper’s January book club pick. I tried to read it a few years ago and never got into it, but I’m glad I gave it another try. I thought there were several “lessons” that apply no matter your career or stage in life.
- Rating: 3
EIGHT // The Authenticity Project by Clare Pooley. The Authenticity Project’s cast of characters–including Hazard, the charming addict who makes a vow to get sober; Alice, the fabulous mommy Instagrammer whose real life is a lot less perfect than it looks online; and their other new friends–is by turns quirky and funny, heartbreakingly sad and painfully true-to-life. It’s a story about being brave and putting your real self forward–and finding out that it’s not as scary as it seems. In fact, it looks a lot like happiness.
I randomly picked up The Authenticity Project while at our local bookstore after the holidays. There’s a slightly crazy older man/grandfatherly type, which is right in my wheelhouse. I liked the premise of the book and how the author weaved everyone’s story together.
- Rating: 3
NINE // The Book of Lost Names by Kristin Harmel: Inspired by an astonishing true story from World War II. A young woman with a talent for forgery helps hundreds of Jewish children flee the Nazis in this unforgettable historical novel.
I received The Book of Lost Names as a gift and loved it! I read through it in two days, which has to be a post-kids record for me. Some World War II historical fiction can feel very heavy (rightfully so given the horrible things people went through), but I didn’t feel that way with this book.
- Rating: 3.5
TBR: UP NEXT
I have an entire reading list for the year mostly made up of books I already own! I am going to try reading two books at the same time – So You Want to Talk About Race and I’ll Give You the Sun. Both have been on my reading list for a long time.
5: A book that you treasure and keep prominently displayed on your bookshelf. All other books will likely be measured against this one.
4: Could not put it down, possibly read through the night, still thinking about it, extremely satisfying and highly recommended
3: Captured my interest, entertaining, would seek other titles by the same author, would recommend
2: Okay to pass the time, probably not memorable, just okay
1: DNF or ended up feeling dissatisfied