Ooh boy, this is my third monthly book post in a row. I haven’t been around here much. November has been a weird month, I’ve been very heavily focused on work and don’t have much mental space left for writing or doing much of anything else. There are also so many distractions. It’s interfered a lot with my reading life this month as well. I was back to not picking up very great books and not getting all that into any of them. You can also see that I’m pretty heavily focused on light reads only right now. I don’t want the heavy stuff. Life is heavy enough! Especially going into these dreary, dark, cold days of winter. Anyway, here they are – and be sure to check out the last one on the list – it was really great and a perfect read for December.
The Coffee Recipe Book by Daniel Lancaster
Rating: 4 stars
This was my election day reading material. I picked it up over the summer, but never got around to reading it. I wish I had as there are so many cold summery drink recipes to choose from! I’m very weird about only wanting to drink seasonally flavored drinks in the correct season, so I have a lot to look forward to next summer! Overall, this was a very simplified yet cute book. I learned a few things about the different brewing methods, despite having tried all of them already on my own coffee journey. It was fun to get a little primer from an expert, though. There aren’t any photos in this book, but the illustrations were really nice. I marked quite a few recipes I’m looking forward to try, which is really the main reason I wanted this book in the first place. Most of the recipes require using some form of espresso, but I’ve found a moka pot to be an extremely fool proof and cheap way to make it if you don’t have other options. I got a Nespresso a few months ago, but never use the espresso pods – now I have a reason to!
Empire High Untouchables by Ivy Smoak
Rating: 3 stars
I have very mixed feelings about this book. It’s about a 16 year old girl, Brooklyn, who loses her mother and goes to live with an uncle she barely knows. She is able to attend the most elite private NYC high school because he is a janitor there. Brooklyn immediately develops a crush on Matt, one of “the Untouchables.” But she also falls for the school’s drug dealer, Felix. Matt is a dream – in private, but completely ignores her at school. Felix never acts ashamed of her, but he’s, well, a drug dealer. The story follows Brooklyn as she struggles to go back and forth between each boy, really just desperate for some sort of love after losing her mom. This book drove me CRAZY because Brooklyn was being so stupid about each guy! But I was also really into the story and thoroughly enjoyed it. So if you can get over how ridiculous she is being and all the red flags both boys send out, it’s a fun thing to read.
Empire High Elite by Ivy Smoak
Rating: 4 stars
The first book finished with a crazy cliffhanger. I was so happy that the second book was immediately available because I jumped right in. And head’s up, the second book has an even crazier cliffhanger. Anyway, in this book Brooklyn goes to live with her father, a man she never knew about and is quite the NYC elite, and also possibly a mobster. She’s assigned a bodyguard who is required to watch her 24/7. He also just happens to be super cute and only a couple of years older than her. And guess what? Shock of all shocks, Brooklyn also falls for him. While still having feelings for Matt and Felix. At one point in the book there is also a fourth boy and in about a one day span she either kisses, says she loves, or (JUST) sleeps with all four of them. It’s kind of insane! There is VERY CLEARLY only one guy that is good for her, but Brooklyn is kind of stupid. (lol) Okay, she’s just a grieving and lost teenager whose entire life has been upended twice in a very short amount of time. I liked this book better than the first.
This Time Next Year by Sophie Cousens
Rating: 3 stars
I chose this as my November BOTM because it was classified as a romance (the genre I tend to always pick because I’m most likely to want to keep it on my shelf to read again someday) and I loved the cover (always a big draw for me). Unfortunately, it reminded me so much of One Day in December – also a BOTM romance that ultimately disappointed me. I don’t want to read a “romance” where the main characters are going through their whole lives constantly missing each other. What is the appeal in that? Why would that kind of book bring anybody any joy? It’s seriously depressing! Honestly, this book was pretty boring. It took me a whole week to read. I only powered through because I paid for it. But I didn’t particularly like any of it.
Empire High Betrayal by Ivy Smoak
Rating: 3 stars
The third book in this series ended up coming out only days after I finished the second, so I was able to jump back into this weirdly compulsively readable series that I also could not stand. I also didn’t know how to rate these books because I didn’t want to put them down, but they also made me really angry. I truly thought this crazy world where a 16 year old grieving girl draws the intense attention of every guy around her would result in some sort of ultimate lesson to choose the RIGHT guy. The only one who didn’t send her constant red flags for unhealthy relationship ahead. Spoiler – she didn’t choose him. This book was even crazier than the second one. To the point of almost absurdity. And the ending – I was not prepared. I’m not sure I can genuinely recommend these books, at least as an adult reader, because I think they’ll drive you as crazy as they drove me. But if you want an escape, these might be the right choice anyway.
See Me After Class by Meghan Quinn
Rating: 4 stars
Greer is a first year English teacher at a high school in a new town. She immediately rubs Arlo, head of the English department, the wrong way with her unconventional teaching methods. But of course they also have undeniable chemistry. I actually really enjoyed this book because most of the characters were so quirky and fun. I liked reading about a group of teachers who formed a really fantastic friend group with each other. This is the first Meghan Quinn book I’ve read, but I assume that she has books featuring some of the supporting characters because they were all so fleshed out. This is a bit more open door romance than many of the books I read – I’ll actually classify it as a romance in my big spreadsheet for the year. But it had a lot of depth as well. I’ll certainly be reading more Meghan Quinn in the future!
Chasing Lucky by Jenn Bennett
Rating: 3 stars
Jenn Bennett is an author who wrote a book I loved (Alex, Approximately), so I keep pre-ordering her newest books with the expectation that they’ll hit me in the same emotional way. And so far they’ve all been a disappointment. There is nothing inherently bad or wrong with this book, I just had a really hard time connecting with it. There were a couple individual moments that I absolutely adored, but overall I just could not get that into it. Josie is a teenager whose mom moves her around the east coast every couple of months – until the end of her junior year when they decide to move back to their hometown to take over the family bookstore for a awhile. Josie is able to reunite with her childhood best friend Lucky, but he’s changed – a lot. Through a series of events they finally start talking again and eventually get close. This book was FINE, I just wish it had a bit more going on to really draw me in.
His Beauty by Jack Harbon
Rating: 2.5 stars
Okay, so I really needed a fast palette cleanser after taking what felt like forever to get through my previous book and a lot of stuff going on in real life. So I heard about this new retelling of Beauty and Beast and grabbed it on kindle unlimited. It’s a pretty straight retelling, just without the hope for a curse to be undone and no magical objects that were once people. But Beast is indeed a Beast and they do have sexy times. Which was honestly just so funny and disturbing to me that I didn’t find it sexy at all. It was a fast read, it was entirely predictable, it was surprisingly gory near the end. I don’t really have much of an opinion on it other than that!
In a Holidaze by Christina Lauren
Rating: 5 stars
This book came out in early October, but I held off on reading it until the holiday season – the day before Thanksgiving (lol). I’m glad I waited. It wasn’t SUPER Christmassy, but it does take place the week before and on Christmas, so it was nice to read going into December. I really enjoyed this one! It was heartwarming and sweet. I was honestly a bit apprehensive because I never am that interested in reading or watching something that is stuck in a time loop. It feels so repetitive. But they did a good job with it here. Maisie does go back in time and repeats a few days over again – but it only happens three times (sorry, that was a spoiler, but maybe it’ll help you be more intrigued if you knew that). The book takes place at a cabin where four families meet and spend Christmas together every single year. It was really sweet how they formed their own large family group and have such close relationships and longstanding traditions despite not spending a lot of time together throughout the year. Maisie is in love with her fellow “kid” (who is now 30), Andrew, and has been for most of her life. When she keeps getting sent back into the past for a redo of Christmas week she finally learns to step out of her comfort zone and become the person she was meant to be. I think this was a really great escape read for this year of all years. I definitely enjoyed it.