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January 2022 Wrap-Up

I broke my own record by reading 14 books this month. Granted, I think I lost some social skills along the way, burying myself into blankets of words, but I don't mind. When times get hard, I tend to retreat into my books because nothing gives me quite as much comfort.

I also decided to skip out on a Top Books of 2021 post because when I looked back on the year (both in terms of reading and life in general), there wasn't much to write home about. I enjoyed a few of the 60 books I read, but not one book really spoke to me enough to call it a favorite. It felt weirdly dishonest to write a post about my top books when I didn't feel passionate about any of them.

However, I have two new favorites from this month that I happily gobbled up. One of them in particular will live in my soul forever. I also won't write about all of the 14 books I read this month, just the ones I believe deserve a review.


I'm not ashamed to admit that I love personal development books. I'm always in the middle of one as I like to read a chapter in the morning with my coffee. It just makes me feel like I have my life together even if it is falling apart.

If you've seen snippets of book TikTok (BookTok) or any bits of the Thought Catalogue niche on Instagram, you've probably seen this book. I have to say, I absolutely adore Thought Catalogue book covers and their overall marketing. They definitely target spiritual millennials looking to find themselves or improve their life. I figured it couldn't hurt to check out The Mountain Is You since it has such great reviews on Goodreads.

This book focuses on self-sabotage --- what it is, how it manifests, and how to overcome it. I think there were some good takeaways and I don't have anything particularly negative to say but since Wiest is not a licensed psychologist, nor does she have a background in research, I had a hard time feeling like she had authority. I'm assuming she took bits and pieces from other authors she's read in the past and expressed them in her own way. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with this but I think going forward, I will stick to authors with a little more credibility.

Rating: 5/10


Charlotte McConaghy has been an author I've been dying to read for about a year now. Her books share content areas of nature, wildlife protection, and family trauma ---- some of my favorite storylines. I wanted to read Once There Were Wolves more but it just so happens that Migrations came off the library hold list first, so it was the first one I read.

Migrations follows Franny Stone, a woman set on tracking Arctic terns migration patterns via any fishing boat who will let her on board. From the first chapter, you can tell there are secrets Franny holds close, both from the other characters and also from the reader. Once she finds a crew willing to let her on board their fishing boat, she is determined to see her journey through wherever it may lead. The book goes back and forth between her mysterious past, including an unaccounted for husband, and her uncertain present.

I should preface this review by saying I really don't enjoy authors that pack trauma onto one character. I believe it's a cheap and uncreative way to push a story forward. It seems authors do this to illicit tears from the reader or give more depth to the story, neither of which works on me. When awful things keep happening to one character, I feel way more distant from the story and also annoyed at the author.

Franny's life is basically just one long depressing saga of awful events. When a chapter would end with either a present-day tragedy or a discovery of one from the past, it would push me further away from the heart of the story. I had to force myself to finish. Don't get me wrong, I believe the actual plot is unique and McConaghy's writing is superb so I kept going, but by the end I had trauma burnout. There was one small plot point that happened at the end of the book that made me feel slightly better about the other 95% of it, but it couldn't save the entirety of the story in my eyes.

Rating: 6/10


Any lovers of YA fantasy or BookTok will know this series well. I actually avoided reading this series because it was so overhyped. I read another fantasy series by Maas back in 2017, Throne of Glass, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Both series are by no means high-fantasy on par with Game of Thrones or The Lord of the Rings. Maas tends to lean towards more accessible YA fantasy, with lots of romance and spiciness thrown in. However, the universe she has created is engrossing, with many strong female characters and hot men to dream about.

A Court of Thorns and Roses starts off as a retelling of Beauty and the Beast, in a land where magical faeries rule and humans are at the bottom of the food chain. Feyre is a poor girl who must hunt to save her family from starvation. When she accidentally kills an enchanted wolf, she must pay for her crime by coming into the faerie realm to live with her masked captor.

The first book in this series was good ---- a fun and absorbing dive into a world of magic and very attractive beings. I definitely had a few issues with some plot points, but overall, Feyre was an easy heroine to root for.

The second book, A Court of Mist and Fury, was better than the first and probably my favorite installment overall. I enjoyed the lore and new characters, particularly the new love interest. It's hard to go into the plot without giving away the ending of the first book, but I'll just say that war is clearly inevitable between different faerie factions and of course, Feyre is a key to winning the upcoming war.

The third, A Court of Wings and Ruin, was also solid and entertaining. I was a little bothered that the climax to the war that had been building up over three books did not kill a single main character (is it giving it away if I say that?), but I thought it was a decent end to the conflict. I was surprised that there was not only one, but two other books already published in this series as this saga seemed to be tied with a bow.

I read the extra book that is considered a novella and not necessary for the series, A Court of Frost and Starlight, and boy, was it unnecessary. I actually regretted reading this book because I felt like it made me dislike the characters I actually had grown to like and respect, and there was no plot.

I planned to read the fourth book but to be honest, I was burnt out on this fantasy world and needed a break. Maybe I will pick it up one of these days, but I might not. The third book just felt like a proper ending and I am not particularly interested in seeing these characters more, and I was shocked to learn that Maas is writing two more books. I am utterly dumbfounded on what those books will be about, but I suppose Maas has a big enough fan base that loyal readers will buy any book she puts out in this series.

Overall, it was a fun universe to fall into at the start of the new year, and helped me establish my nightly reading routine that set me up to get through so many books this month.

Rating: 6.5/10


Taylor Jenkins Reid's books have blown up more than any other author I've ever seen on the internet. People are crazy about her writing and consistently rate her books above 4 stars on Goodreads. Per usual, I hesitated to pick up her books because they were so over hyped, but had an itch for some more fun and juicy reads this month.

I borrowed this copy of The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo from my coworker Devon, who found it at one of the countless Little Free Libraries around DC, clearly passed around and loved by many residents.

This glamorous and sensational story surrounds Evelyn Hugo, a fictional starlet of the mid 20th century who had a history of successful films but unsuccessful marriages. Evelyn kept her mysterious life very private over the years but decides to finally serve up the tea after over 50 years in the spotlight, and demands that an unknown magazine writer be the one to write it.

I was quickly absorbed into this story and thoroughly enjoyed the life of this beautiful and complicated woman. The thing I like most about Reid's writing is that although her writing is very accessible and her plots are entertaining, they aren't full of fluff. There are substantial topics in here, from LGBTQ rights to abuse to physician-assisted suicide. Her books feel like guilty pleasures, although I don't feel guilty in the end because they always have more depth than you'd think.

Rating: 7.5/10


I often tell people that if they find an author they really like, they should continue with their books because it's a great way to keep a reading streak going. I found myself wanting to read more of Reid ---- her stories often feature fictional Hollywood stars or musicians, filled with scandal and intrigue and glamour.

Malibu Rising has two timelines. The first is in 1983, when the Riva family throws their annual summer party and all of Hollywood's craziest and most attractive flock to their beach house. The second timeline follows the genesis of the Riva family, recounting how Mick and June Riva fall in love, the plot weaving in and out of their tragic lives.

I absolutely love a good family drama story (a few favorites include The Most Fun We Ever Had and Ask Again, Yes). There's something so intriguing to me about exploring dysfunctional family dynamics, with each family member getting their own story and having their own voice. Malibu Rising is a deliciously fun analysis of the Riva family, and how each member deals with trauma. Reid also likes to tie her books to one another, so Mick Riva is actually the third husband of Evelyn Hugo. I love when authors do that, it makes the universe they created feel that more real.

Although both books were entertaining reads with great depth, I give Malibu Rising a slightly higher rating because of my personal preference for family analyses.

Rating: 8/10


Charlotte McConaghy wrote Once There Were Wolves after Migrations and I believe greatly improved her quality of storytelling. She honed in on the things she was good at and dropped most of the melodramatic tropes from her previous novel.

Inti Flynn is a biologist who moves to Scotland to continue her attempt at reintroducing wolves back into different wildlife areas. Inti also has a rare neurological condition called mirror-touch synesthesia, complicating her professional and personal life. Her brain makes her believe she is physically feeling the sensory experiences of other beings and animals. If she watches a deer get gutted by a hunter, she feels the knife going through herself as well. All of this, in addition to secrets that are revealed slowly throughout the story, mold Inti into a private and overly cautious woman. But she begins to open herself up to friendship and love in this little Scottish town, until the mysterious death of a local pushes her to protect the things she loves most.

The mood and tone of this book was spectacular. I was glued to the page, both by McConaghy's beautiful descriptions of the wolves and native lands of Scotland, and the captivating storyline that weaves in and out of timelines. I felt like the characters were realistic and fleshed out. Inti is a flawed character but likable ---- I held onto the hope that she would find peace and happiness in the end. There are twists and turns, and I felt that secrets were revealed at perfect points in the story. I got lost in Inti's world, which is exactly what I hope for in a fictional book. This has become a new favorite, and I highly recommend it for any fiction lover.

Rating: 9/10


Every once in a while, when I least expect it, I read a book that speaks to my soul. It doesn't happen all that often, which is odd and disappointing considering how voracious of a reader I am. I didn't come across any in 2021. But I should've known the next one would be a John Green book.

I unashamedly love John Green. I have read all his books, although most are good but not great. But his first novel, Looking for Alaska, is one of my favorite and dearest books of all time. I read it when I was 16, at a time when being young and reckless made so much sense to me because it meant I was alive. It came into my life at the perfect moment. And I've come to realize that there may have to be certain circumstances for a book to become a favorite. Perhaps The Anthropocene Reviewed would not have affected me so much had I not read it in the exact moment I did.

I've been having a rough time. And maybe I haven't been processing some of my emotions in the way that I should. It's part of the reason I read so many books this month. I needed an escape.

The Anthropocene Reviewed is actually a book of essays that was originally a podcast by Green. I'll link the podcast here but I never actually listened to it and I'm glad I didn't. I prefer reading people's personal words on a page, hearing their voice in my own head. I think it makes me feel more connected to them.

Green began this podcast and subsequently published this book during the pandemic, reviewing quirky and obscure topics like the QWERTY keyboard and sunsets and Canada geese and the city of Indianapolis, rating them on a scale of one to five. He talks about making a garden in the pandemic, wondering if we'll be able to save the earth from our own demise, and the typical existential humanitarian crises. Each essay is only a few pages long, and Green's writing is just as I remember it ---- beautiful, poetic, direct, accessible, and soulful. I laughed out loud many times. I cried many times. His essays didn't give me an escape, it pulled me back into reality ---- reality of the world, of humanity, but especially, of my own personal life.

There's one essay in particular I want to highlight. It's titled "Auld Lang Syne," the famous song that people sing on New Years Eve. If you Google it, you'll know it. Green chronicles a precious friendship with his mentor Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Amy had a particular fascination with Auld Lang Syne because it was sung by soldiers in the trenches of World War I one Christmas Eve. The soldiers ---- whether English, Scottish, Prussian or German --- put down their weapons for one night and gathered to play soccer, exchange souvenirs, and sing this song. They began to sing this tune but instead with the words, "We're here because we're here because we're here because we're here."

Amy died of cancer in 2017, and Green reflects on why that song and story meant so much to her. He writes, "Although it's a profoundly nihilistic song written about the modernist hell of repetition, singing this song with Amy, I could always see the hope in it. It became a statement that we are here --- meaning that we are together, and not alone. And it's also a statement that we are, that we exist. And it's a statement that we are here, that a series of astonishing unlikelihoods has made us possible and here possible. We might never know why we are here, but we can still proclaim in hope that we are here. I don't think such hope is foolish or idealistic or misguided. We live in hope --- that life will get better, and more importantly, that it will go on, that love will survive even though we will not. And between now and then, we are here because we're here because we're here because we're here."

Those words crawled into my soul. They have been burned into me. Even writing them out now evokes a depth of response I haven't felt from a book in a very long time. These words hold my own grief in gentle hands, they tell me it's okay to feel sad and scared and yet, still hopeful.

I think this book was published with a perfect concoction of circumstances. And not just for me, but for everyone. Hope can seem like an elusive treasure in times like these. The pandemic has made the future seem much more scary and uncertain. But Green's words remind us that there are so many things to hold dear, many possibilities for the future, and many reasons to have hope.

In the words of John Green, I give The Anthropocene Reviewed ten stars.

Rating: 10/10


Almost every person I know has a goal to read more books in 2022. Lucky for you, I have a personalized recommendations form you can submit to fuel your reading resolution. Tell me your favorite books, genres, what kind of mood you're in, and I will suggest some books I think you'll love. Don't be afraid to use and abuse my little bookworm brain, I'll be happy you did.

Happy reading!


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