January was a relaxing start to the new year, and felt like it flew by way too quick.
I was on break for basically the entirety of the month, and I’m lucky enough to have had that time to relax after a stressful semester of classes. I managed to finish 4 books, which admittedly is less than I had hoped for. That being said, they were all high ratings, and I stand by the sentiment of quality over quantity.
Anyways, without further ado, let’s get to the wrap-up!
Ellie Agresti’s not sure anything could be worse than being dumped by her boyfriend, Hunter, the first day of senior year.
But sharing a “life skills” class with him and his new girlfriend, Brynn? AND getting partnered with a “family” of misfits (A.J., the loudmouth; Isaiah, the horse-racing obsessive; and Luke, the tattooed stunt-biker)?
It’s a recipe for certain disaster…until an in-class competition allows Ellie to channel her angst into beating Hunter and Brynn’s team, and she unexpectedly bonds with her own group–especially Luke–in the process.
But as Ellie soon discovers, it will take more than classroom triumphs to heal her broken heart–and find herself again.
If you’re seeking a light-hearted YA contemporary with found family trope and the most wholesome cast of characters, look no further. The Secret Recipe For Moving On really took me by surprise, so much so that I finished it in one sitting. As I’ve said before, I’ve recently found myself drifting away from the YA romance genre because of how cheesy and eye-rolling it tends to be. This book definitely had its moments, but I found it, for the most part, to be a heartwarming story more about personal growth and reflection. The romance itself was sweet too, but this book strengths lie more in the friendships found along the way.
Emmy just wants to be in charge of her own life.
She wants to stay out late, surf her favorite beach—go anywhere without her parents’ relentless worrying. But Emmy’s parents can’t seem to let her grow up—not since the day Oliver disappeared.
Oliver needs a moment to figure out his heart.
He’d thought, all these years, that his dad was the good guy. He never knew that it was his father who kidnapped him and kept him on the run. Discovering it, and finding himself returned to his old hometown, all at once, has his heart racing and his thoughts swirling.
Emmy and Oliver were going to be best friends forever, or maybe even more, before their futures were ripped apart. In Emmy’s soul, despite the space and time between them, their connection has never been severed. But is their story still written in the stars? Or are their hearts like the pieces of two different puzzles—impossible to fit together?
Similar to The Secret Recipe For Moving on, Emmy & Oliver isn’t as much a romance as the title suggests. This book captures so many emotions that come with Oliver being kidnapped for so many years, and what I enjoyed about it was how the story was told through Emmy’s POV and we got to see how Oliver’s disappearance affected the people around him more than his feelings about coming back. Sure, there’s some insta-love situations and the pacing felt off at times, but overall the message of the book and the character’s grappling with their feelings, especially at such a vulnerable age, felt raw and realistic. I am hesitant to recommend it because I know it can be a hit or miss and I completely understand why one may not enjoy this book, but I personally really did!
In the summer of 1932, on the banks of Minnesota’s Gilead River, the Lincoln Indian Training School is a pitiless place where Native American children, forcibly separated from their parents, are sent to be educated. It is also home to Odie O’Banion, a lively orphan boy whose exploits constantly earn him the superintendent’s wrath. Odie and his brother, Albert, are the only white faces among the hundreds of Native American children at the school.
After committing a terrible crime, Odie and Albert are forced to flee for their lives along with their best friend, Mose, a mute young man of Sioux heritage. Out of pity, they also take with them a brokenhearted little girl named Emmy. Together, they steal away in a canoe, heading for the mighty Mississippi in search for a place to call home.
Over the course of one unforgettable summer, these four orphan vagabonds journey into the unknown, crossing paths with others who are adrift, from struggling farmers and traveling faith healers to displaced families and lost souls of all kinds. With the feel of a modern classic, This Tender Land is an enthralling, bighearted epic that shows how the magnificent American landscape connects us all, haunts our dreams, and makes us whole.
This Tender Land is truly unlike anything I’ve read before and a beautiful, adventurous story about four orphans making their way through the American midwest in search of a place to call home. The setting was so atmospheric and written in a way that made it seem like a fifth main character. This was a refreshing historical fiction with a young cast of characters who we watch grow from friends and acquaintances into a family that sticks together. Thank you to Cherelle for recommending this one to me a while back, it was a masterpiece of a story!
Ellen O’Farrell is a professional hypnotherapist who works out of the eccentric beachfront home she inherited from her grandparents. It’s a nice life, except for her tumultuous relationship history. She’s stoic about it, but at this point, Ellen wouldn’t mind a lasting one. When she meets Patrick, she’s optimistic. He’s attractive, single, employed, and best of all, he seems to like her back.
Then comes that dreaded moment: He thinks they should have a talk. Braced for the worst, Ellen is pleasantly surprised. It turns out that Patrick’s ex-girlfriend is stalking him. Ellen thinks, Actually, that’s kind of interesting. She’s dating someone worth stalking. She’s intrigued by the woman’s motives. In fact, she’d even love to meet her.
Ellen doesn’t know it, but she already has.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, Liane Moriarty writes the most addicting, page-turn-worthy books. The Hypnotist’s Love Story was no different, and I loved how this story discussed themes of motherhood and family in complex situations. The main character, Ellen, is a hypnotherapist, which was also very intriguing to read about as I’ve never read about that profession before. I will say, I think the synopsis of the book is slightly misleading, as it paints the story to be some sort of domestic thriller or mystery. There are definitely mystery aspects to it, as the story is told through alternating POV’s between Ellen and her partner’s stalker. But, it’s also largely a romance and Ellen coming to terms with how she fits into Patrick’s life and his son’s. This might be my “least favorite” of the Moriarty works I’ve read so far, but still a stunning read that I’d recommend!
And that’s it for this month! I know January isn’t quite over yet, but I don’t anticipate reading anything else this month as my classes start again tomorrow and I’ll go back to having emotional break-downs and no time for reading 🥲
I hope you all enjoyed this post and happy reading!
Have you read any of these? How many books did you read in January?