I share more about my month in my February Musings, but here we are talking about books.
Like last year, I do not have an annual reading goal. Instead, I am looking at quality over quantity and just enjoying my favorite hobby. As a mother of a toddler, finding time to sit down and read can be rare, but I did a great job this month sneaking in pages where I could, whether it was on the couch before bed, on the treadmill or Peloton bike, or even up in the air (I traveled for work!)
I read 5 books in January. Here they are!
The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty (The Daevabad Trilogy #1)
I started this one in 2022 but finished it riiiiight before the worst stomach bug I’ve ever had plagued our household (thanks, daycare). This series came highly recommended, and I’m glad one of my good friends bought me a copy for my birthday. I was hooked from the very first page and immediately ordered the sequel once I finished.
This is certainly a book for well-seasoned fantasy readers. I love the storyline and the story world. I am also finding that I can read books where I do not particularly like the protagonists — something that I couldn’t handle before. I am well into the second book, and anticipate finishing it in February.
Adult Assembly Required (The Bookish Life of Nina Hill #2) by Abbi Waxman
Well…they can’t all be winners. The first thought that crossed my mind while reading this one was “did they publish this book by mistake before they were done editing it?” Felt like a first draft. Dialogue and love story was so corny and flat and just …. eeeeek *shudders* I’m glad I got this through Kindle Unlimited and didn’t pay for it.
Have I Told You This Already?: Stories I Don’t Want to Forget to Remember by Lauren Graham
I love Lauren Graham, but this memoir wasn’t as memorable as her other one. Some of the essays were lighthearted and interesting, but others I just shrugged at or sped through (I did the audio through an advanced listener’s copy influencer partnership). Overall, meh.
The Bear and the Nightingale (Winternight Trilogy #1) by Katherine Arden
Um…Russian folklore is terrifying? This is definitely one of the best fantasy books I’ve ever read. MY ONLY COMPLAINT is that it’s very slow to start and then there is rapid movement at the end. I’m lucky to have the next two books on my bookshelf, so I plan on picking up the sequel very soon.
Bloodmarked (The Legendborn Cycle #2) by Tracy Deonn
Is it possible that I already found my favorite book that I read this year? Probably. I’m glad I gave Bloodmarked a chance because Legendborn didn’t really leave an impression on me. I felt like the world-building was confusing and plot points were rushed, etc. Bloodmarked, however, is a triumph. I loved every second of it.
What did you read in January? Share in the comments!
Bookworms! It’s a new year, which means there will be more BOOKS! I’ve been keeping an eye out on my various bibliophile-ish platforms to keep track of what books will be published this year. If you’re the same, look no further!
Here are some books I am looking forward to in January and February.
Return to the opulent world of Elfhame, filled with intrigue, betrayal, and dangerous desires, with this first book of a captivating new duology from the #1 New York Times bestselling author Holly Black.
A runaway queen. A reluctant prince. And a quest that may destroy them both.
Eight years have passed since the Battle of the Serpent. But in the icy north, Lady Nore of the Court of Teeth has reclaimed the Ice Needle Citadel. There, she is using an ancient relic to create monsters of stick and snow who will do her bidding and exact her revenge.
Suren, child queen of the Court of Teeth, and the one person with power over her mother, fled to the human world. There, she lives feral in the woods. Lonely, and still haunted by the merciless torments she endured in the Court of Teeth, she bides her time by releasing mortals from foolish bargains. She believes herself forgotten until the storm hag, Bogdana chases her through the night streets. Suren is saved by none other than Prince Oak, heir to Elfhame, to whom she was once promised in marriage and who she has resented for years.
Now seventeen, Oak is charming, beautiful, and manipulative. He’s on a mission that will lead him into the north, and he wants Suren’s help. But if she agrees, it will mean guarding her heart against the boy she once knew and a prince she cannot trust, as well as confronting all the horrors she thought she left behind.
In a fallen kingdom, one girl carries the key to discovering the secrets of her nation’s past—and unleashing the demons that sleep at its heart. An epic fantasy series inspired by the mythology and folklore of ancient China.
Once, Lan had a different name. Now she goes by the one the Elantian colonizers gave her when they invaded her kingdom, killed her mother, and outlawed her people’s magic. She spends her nights as a songgirl in Haak’gong, a city transformed by the conquerors, and her days scavenging for what she can find of the past. Anything to understand the strange mark burned into her arm by her mother in her last act before she died.
The mark is mysterious—an untranslatable Hin character—and no one but Lan can see it. Until the night a boy appears at her teahouse and saves her life.
Zen is a practitioner—one of the fabled magicians of the Last Kingdom. Their magic was rumored to have been drawn from the demons they communed with. Magic believed to be long lost. Now it must be hidden from the Elantians at all costs.
When Zen comes across Lan, he recognizes what she is: a practitioner with a powerful ability hidden in the mark on her arm. He’s never seen anything like it—but he knows that if there are answers, they lie deep in the pine forests and misty mountains of the Last Kingdom, with an order of practitioning masters planning to overthrow the Elantian regime.
Both Lan and Zen have secrets buried deep within—secrets they must hide from others, and secrets that they themselves have yet to discover. Fate has connected them, but their destiny remains unwritten. Both hold the power to liberate their land. And both hold the power to destroy the world.
Wealth. Power. Murder. Magic. Alex Stern is back and the Ivy League is going straight to hell in #1 New York Times bestselling author Leigh Bardugo’s Hell Bent.
Find a gateway to the underworld. Steal a soul out of hell. A simple plan, except people who make this particular journey rarely come back. But Galaxy “Alex” Stern is determined to break Darlington out of purgatory―even if it costs her a future at Lethe and at Yale.
Forbidden from attempting a rescue, Alex and Dawes can’t call on the Ninth House for help, so they assemble a team of dubious allies to save the gentleman of Lethe. Together, they will have to navigate a maze of arcane texts and bizarre artifacts to uncover the societies’ most closely guarded secrets, and break every rule doing it. But when faculty members begin to die off, Alex knows these aren’t just accidents. Something deadly is at work in New Haven, and if she is going to survive, she’ll have to reckon with the monsters of her past and a darkness built into the university’s very walls.
Thick with history and packed with Bardugo’s signature twists, Hell Bent brings to life an intricate world full of magic, violence, and all too real monsters.
Author and single mom Finlay Donovan has been in messes before―after all, she’s a pro at removing bloodstains for various unexpected reasons―but none quite like this. When Finlay and her nanny/partner-in-crime Vero accidentally destroyed a luxury car that they had “borrowed” in the process of saving the life of Finlay’s ex-husband, the Russian mob did her a favor and bought the car for her. And now Finlay owes them.
Mob boss Feliks is still running the show from behind bars, and he has a task for Finlay: find and identify a contract killer before the cops do. The problem is, the killer might be an officer themself.
Luckily, hot cop Nick has just been tasked with starting up a citizen’s police academy, and combined pressure from Finlay’s looming book deadline and Feliks is enough to convince Finlay and Vero to get involved. Through firearm training and forensic classes (and some hands-on research with a tempting detective), Finlay and Vero use their time in police academy to sleuth out the real contract killer to free themselves from the mob’s clutches―all the while dodging spies, confronting Vero’s past, and juggling the daily trials of parenthood.
For fans of Laura Hankin and Jennifer Weiner, this fresh, clever, and complex debut “mom-com” explores the bonds of friendship—and the bounds of loyalty.
A plucky protagonist who’s far from figuring it all out—but powers through with wit and determination—will instantly capture readers.
Fallon Monroe, mother of one, self-help book junkie, and budding chocolatier, has always relied on her neighborhood friends to get her through the trials of adulthood. So when her bestie Beatrice inexplicably starts ghosting her and takes all their mutual friends with her, Fallon’s left wondering how everything went so wrong. Pushing down a lifetime of insecurities, Fallon doubles down and decides to win them back. First, she hosts an epic Cinco de Mayo party that goes epically wrong. Then she joins a friendship app but discovers a disturbing secret about one of her new friends—a discovery that will test the strength of her loyalty to Beatrice.
Just when she’s about to throw in the towel on the whole friendship mess, Fallon reads a recently unearthed letter she’d refused to open decades earlier—and reading it forces her to finally face the deep-seated fears she’d desperately tried to bury. Now, looking at her friendships through fresh eyes, she must decide between hanging on and letting go.
Fallon is an instantly likeable heroine—as vulnerable as she is determined—and she’ll have readers eagerly turning the pages as they join her on an emotional journey into the hopes and fears of adulthood.
France, 1918. In the final days of the First World War, a young Chinese woman, Pauline Deng, runs away from her uncle’s home in Paris to evade a marriage being arranged for her in Shanghai. To prevent the union, she needs the help of her cousin Theo, who is working as a translator for the Chinese Labour Corps in the French countryside. In the town of Noyelles-sur-Mer, Camille Roussel is planning her escape from an abusive marriage, and to end a love affair that can no longer continue. When Camille offers Pauline a room for her stay, the two women become friends. But it’s not long before Pauline uncovers a perilous secret that Camille has been hiding from her. As their dangerous situation escalates, the two women are forced to make a terrible decision that will bind them together for the rest of their lives.
Set against the little-known history of the 140,000 Chinese workers brought to Europe as non-combatant labor during WWI, The Porcelain Moon is a tale of forbidden love, identity and belonging, and what we are willing to risk for freedom.
Well. Here we are. Somehow we are saying goodbye to 2022 and welcoming a new year.
Last year, I determined that with a baby on the way, it would make the best sense that I don’t set a reading goal. Instead, I would just read when I could and enjoy having those fleeting moments to myself.
I’m glad I did that.
This year, I read 34 books. Not too bad for a first-time mom juggling work, baby, and home!
Here’s what I read in 2022 (and my “star” ratings):
And Every Morning the Way Home Gets Longer and Longer by Fredrik Backman: 3.5
The Dragon Republic (The Poppy War #2) by R.F. Kuang: 4.5
Weather Girl by Rachel Lynn Solomon: 4.5
The Burning God (The Poppy War #3) by R.F. Kuang: 4.5
The Drowning Faith (The Poppy War #2.5) by R.F. Kuang: 3.0
The Wicked King (The Folk of the Air #2) by Holly Black: 3.0
The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air #3) by Holly Black: 3.0
Red, White & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston: 5.0
The Fourth Trimester: A Postpartum Guide to Healing Your Body, Balancing Your Emotions, and Restoring Your Vitality by Kimberly Ann Johnson: No rating
House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2) by Sarah J. Maas: 4.0
How Long ’til Black Future Month? by N.K. Jemisin: 4.0
The Huntress by Kate Quinn: 3.0
What the Fireflies Knew by Kai Harris: 2.75
The Ex Talk by Rachel Lynn Solomon: 5.0
A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1) by V.E. Schwab: 5.0
Book Lovers by Emily Henry: 4.5
A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab: 3.5
The Montessori Baby: A Parent’s Guide to Nurturing Your Baby with Love, Respect, and Understanding by Simone Davies, Junnifa Uzodike with Sanny Van Loon: No rating
Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus: 3.5
I Kissed Shara Wheeler by Casey McQuiston: 5.0
Legendborn (Legendborn #1) by Tracy Deonn: 3.75
The Charm Offensive (The Charm Offensive #1) by Alison Cochrun: 4.0
Finlay Donovan is Killing It (Finlay Donovan #1) by Elle Cosimano: 4.0
Beautiful Little Fools by Jillian Cantor: 4.5
City of Bones (The Mortal Instruments #1) by Cassandra Clare: 3.5
City of Ashes (The Mortal Instruments #2) by Cassandra Clare: 3.0
Finlay Donovan Knocks ‘Em Dead (Finlay Donovan #2) by Elle Cosimano 3.75
Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid: 4.0
A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab: 4.0
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin: 3.5
Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (And More Life to Live) by Eve Rodsky: No rating
Hello! A little late to the musings game, but it’s been an intense month or so over here!
October was filled with work trips, pumping in airports and missing my baby. I spent the first two weeks of October traveling to St. Paul, Minnesota and Los Angeles, California for work. We also went to New Hampshire with our friends and their kids and enjoyed a weekend away. Then, it was Halloween and getting Nora ready for her first week at daycare!
Nora started daycare the first week of November … and … well … caught hand foot and mouth. We spent the week of my 30th birthday in the nursery, holding our screaming baby and cursing the daycare gods. BUT, we are all better now and our little one is back at daycare loving life!
30, flirty, and surviving
I celebrated my 30th birthday last week, receiving a giant bouquet of flowers from my sister-in-law, cupcakes from my cousin, and other packages and warm wishes in the mail and over the internet. Ian and I went out to dinner and I got two glasses of prosecco and we ate a 6-course meal. It was *chef’s kiss*.
That weekend, Ian surprised me with a visit from my best friend who moved to the West Coast last year. I did not see that coming (cue sobs). We spent the day eating and laughing and watching Gilmore girls with a still sick baby, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. On Saturday, we hosted about 30 people at our house (cue more sobs) for a birthday party. It was a blast, and I really felt the love.
People ask me if I am excited or nervous about my 30s. I’d have to say that while my 20s were the most formative years of my life, they were also the most awkward and uncertain. I have grown a lot in the past year, becoming a mom and taking steps to improve my mental health, so I think my 30s will be the best years yet.
What’s up for the rest of November
There’s really not a lot of time left! This weekend we are attending a Thanksgiving party with our realtor group (insert nerd emoji), and then next week I am taking some time off for the Thanksgiving holiday. Then, the day after Thanksgiving … it’s tree time! We found this perfect tree farm last year, and learned that all of their trees sell out the day after Thanksgiving. So, twist my arm! Starting a week from now, our house will be all Christmas! Hooray! Then, the Saturday after Thanksgiving, our town hosts a Stars Hollow-esque Christmas celebration. They close main street for walking traffic and you can listen to carolers, eat piping hot soup, look at gingerbread houses, be merry, you name it. We are SO excited!
Plans for December
December is, expectedly, filled with TONS of fun stuff. The first weekend of December is a work holiday party, a trip to Newport with my hometown friends to celebrate our 30s, and cookies on Sunday. The following weekend I am hosting our book club group and an additional small group of friends on Saturday. Then sprinkled in-between we have Christmas shopping, cookie baking, holiday movies, and so much more. I love this time of year, but it goes by so darn fast!
What I read in October and (so far) in November
Fair Play: A Game-Changing Solution for When You Have Too Much to Do (And More Life to Live) by Eve Rodsky
Tomorrow, and Tomorrow, and Tomorrow by Gabrielle Zevin
A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab
Carrie Sotto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid
What I’m reading
Babel by R.F. Kuang
The Winners by Fredrik Backman
Unmasked: My Life Solving America’s Cold Cases by Paul Holes
What I’m listening to
Have I Told You This Already? Stories I Don’t Want to Forget to Remember by Lauren Graham