Which books are worth the read and which should you skip? Find out what books I’ve been reading lately and whether I recommend them.
Thus far, my 2022 reading is off to a great start.
Admittedly, I haven’t read as many books as I usually do. For which I blame my recent Grey’s Anatomy binge-watching. However, the books I’ve read have been really good.
I’ll take quality over quantity any day.
As humans, we tend to focus on the wrong things. Instead of asking how many books do you read a year, how about asking what amazing books have you read lately?
There’s reading and then there is READING. Let’s hope for more of the latter this year.
January Reading List
It seems like a chance of a lifetime when Lux McCallister and her boyfriend Nico are hired to sail two women to a remote Pacific island. Yet, when they arrive, another boat is already anchored there, piloted by a golden couple. The party of six gets along great until another stranger arrives and the perfect vacation turns deadly.
Reckless Girls is the perfect guilty pleasure beach read. It has all the markers – exotic setting, gorgeous people, complicated relationships, and over-the-top plot twists. You know it’s not realistic, but you get sucked in anyways because it’s escapist reading at its finest.
Although she struggles to interact with people, her love of order and cleanliness makes Molly Gray an excellent maid at the Regency Grand Hotel. When Molly discovers a wealthy guest dead in his hotel bed, the police peg her as the prime suspect due to her unusual behaviors. With the help of her friends, Molly must investigate the murder to prove her innocence in this locked-room mystery.
Chosen as the GMA book club pick for January, The Maid is an adorable cozy mystery. You’ll instantly fall in love with Molly as the neurodivergent protagonist, with her keen observations and lovable personality. If you are in the mood for a cute book, The Maid delivers: the twists and turns are intriguing but not shocking and everyone gets their happily ever after.
Three years ago, Stefan was sentenced for the drug-fueled murder of his girlfriend Belinda. When Stefan is released from prison, his mother Thea struggles to support him as he tries to make amends to a community that wants nothing to do with him. As threats escalate, Thea wonders how well she truly knows her son and questions what actually happened the night Belinda died.
Mitchard’s January release starts as a strong character study of a mother trying to process her son’s release from prison. Thea loves her son, yet questions her parenting, his temper, and state of mind. At times, The Good Son is thought-provoking and at other times utterly dull.
Sadly, the story completely misses the mark when it adds a thriller subplot. Suddenly the story isn’t about facing the consequence of a crime, but a “thriller” that’s not very thrilling. In all, The Good Son is a novel that has so much potential but ends up being rather mediocre.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from MIRA Books. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Hadi and Sama, a young Syrian couple living in Boston, are thrilled that their child will be born in America. When Sama is five months pregnant, Hadi’s father unexpectedly passes away in Jordan. After attending the funeral, Hadi is detained upon his return to Boston, caught up in a nightmarish limbo caused by the newly issued travel ban.
I loved Zgheib’s tale of anorexia, The Girls at 17 Swann Street, so I really wanted to enjoy her newest book. Despite the importance of the topic, No Land to Light On was a struggle for me to read, mostly because of the lyrical writing style. The composition jumps from past to present with endless descriptions in flowing language. The story stayed ethereal when I wanted this tragedy to be brought down to earth.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Atria Books through NetGalley. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
Estranged siblings Byron and Benny are brought back together by their mother’s death. For their inheritance, they find a traditional Caribbean black cake and a voice recording from their mother. Eleanor’s message tells the turbulent story of her life, one full of secrets and a long-lost child that will leave the siblings questioning everything they thought they knew.
Black Cake is destined to be on all the Best of lists in 2022; it is that good. Wilkerson does an excellent job bringing to life the complicated family dynamics underlaid with the powerful story of Eleanor’s life. A great choice for a book club, Black Cake touches on a lot of hot issues that would make for a lively discussion.
A group of daily swimmers is thrown for a loop when a crack appears in the swimming pool they frequent. Among them is Alice, who is slowly losing herself to dementia. With her daily routine broken, Alice feels thrust into chaos as her childhood memories of being in a Japanese internment camp surface, and her daughter struggles to help her.
First off, I don’t think you can actually call The Swimmers a novel because it is so extremely short. I guess you would categorize Otsuka’s novella as experimental fiction. The story is mostly told in an odd second-person format that takes some getting used to. I was set to give it a disappointing two stars, but Otsuka’s descriptions of Alice’s entrance into a memory care facility struck home for me, especially when I realized that Alice is the author’s mother.
I received a complimentary copy of this book from Knopf. The opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.
From the Backlist
Shortly after World War II, Don and Mimi Galvin seemed to be living the American Dream, raising their twelve children in Colorado Springs. Until one after another, six of their ten sons were diagnosed with schizophrenia. The tale of an American family of utmost importance to proving a genetic component to schizophrenia, Hidden Valley Road was one of the top nonfiction books of 2020.
Knowing this was an Oprah book club pick, I was excited to pick up Kolker’s bestseller. Although the story is told well, it’s extremely depressing: a litany of horror stories detailing mental breaks, violence, and sexual abuse, especially of the two younger sisters. The science was interesting but also extremely depressing since it is still so little understood. All in all, Hidden Valley Road was just too traumatic for me to enjoy.
Having taken time off from her job as a detective, Elin Warner agrees to attend a celebration of her estranged brother’s engagement. At a minimalist Swiss five-star hotel that used to be a sanatorium, Elin immediately feels on edge. When her brother’s fiancée disappears and a girl is murdered, all the guests begin to panic after a storm shuts off access to the remote hotel. Now, Elin must use all her skills to find out what is going on.
I know some reviewers are called this Reese Witherspoon book club pick overhyped, but I was completely captivated by this thriller. I adored the setting and would love to see it come to life someday in a film adaptation. I can see Elin being a hard-to-love narrator since her PTSD keeps her on edge and slightly apart, but she made a great unreliable narrator. Admittedly, the motive for the murders was a bit convoluted, but all I can say is that I thought it was the perfect quick winter thriller to sink into on a snowy weekend. I can’t wait until the sequel, The Retreat, comes out this summer.
S. A. Cosby
When a gay couple is murdered, their ex-con fathers band together to deal out retribution. Both Ike and Buddy Lee struggled to accept their gay sons, straining their relationships. Now the two, one Black and one white, must confront their prejudices about their children and each other as they deal out bloody revenge in Cosby’s latest thriller.
Just so you know, Razorblade Tears is rather violent, comparable to the Jack Reacher novels. Even though it’s not my usual genre, I still loved it. Cosby does an excellent job merging weighty themes into a high-action plot. And high action it is, with a very high body count, lots of languages, and two ex-cons coming to grips with their failures as fathers.
When I first read Girl, Wash Your Face back in 2018, I absolutely loved it. Hollis’s motivational book describes lies women tell themselves in a down-to-earth relatable way. It was exactly what I needed to hear at the time. For the 2022 Reading Challenge, I needed to reread a favorite book, so I was curious to see if my opinion would change, especially given all I know about Hollis’s life since.
Honestly, I still enjoyed the book the second time through even though I am very aware of its flaws. I would never call Girl, Wash Your Face a must-read for all women, but I think it’s a good book for women who just need to be reminded that they can take control of their happiness. Hollis’s brand of motivation will speak to some women and will completely turn off others, but I think that’s true of almost any motivational speaker.
I always seem to have multiple books going at once. Here’s a peek at what I’m currently reading.
My To-Read List
What’s up next for me? Before I let you go, here are a few of the titles I’m hoping to get through this upcoming month.
Be sure to come back next month to see which ones I read.
What books did you read in January?