• Ashley

Wrap Up: January!




I know it's February, but Happy New Year, y'all! Here's hoping this year is everything that 2020 wasn't.


Do you set yearly reading goals? For me, it's one of the few consistent yearly goals I make for myself. I use Goodreads's Reading Challenge because I still find that platform the most convenient and easy to use. For 2021, I set a goal of 104 books, hoping I could average 2 books a week. This is the same goal I set for 2020 since I just barely completed that challenge.


So far, so good! I'm wrapping up January having read 12 books (as of morning on the 31st, when I'm writing this). As you might know or at least relate to, TBRs are hard for me. I'm such a mood reader and if I read a book off a TBR and don't love, I'll spend so much time trying to figure out if I just don't like it or if it's because I'm not ready for it right that second and then I'm miserable.


All that to say that I didn't set a specific TBR for January (with the exception of January's book club book), but I did choose the majority of my reads by really digging into my backlist for both owned copies and eARCs. And this seemed to work well! I read a lot of books I've been meaning to read but have neglected for whatever reason, and I got the added bonus of feeling good about reading the books I already own!


Keep reading to see what I knocked off my backlist in January and for some minireviews!


Twice in A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren | What She's Read

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie has been on my radar for so much. My sweet TBTB Secret Santa sent it to me this year and I read it right away! And it did not disappoint!


  • Steamy historical fiction with complicated main characters and neuro-divergent representation (even if it's not named in the novel)

  • Unconditional love and learning how to be with another person

  • Just want to reiterate how steamy it is, Ian has a filthy mouth, jeez louise

  • He's also more than a bit controlling and Kate tolerates it

4.5/5 stars






Twice in A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren | What She's Read

Uprooted was on my TBR for a long time--in fact, it was on my "Currently Reading" list for a long time, too. Do you ever start a book and then stop reading it because you love it and don't want it to be over, or are you normal?

  • It reads like a fairy tell and also like a sideways inspired-by-BATB but not being a BATB retelling

  • Incredible world building

  • Dragon is not very nice since he's old AF and not very connected to humans and human emotions anymore, this is probably not the best depiction of a healthy relationship and this is not a dreamy romance novel, pls be advised

4.5/5 stars



Twice in A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren | What She's Read

I've liked a number of Cora Carmack's contemporary novels, and I'd had the first novel in the Rusk University football-romance series on my TBR for years. This one promised "the Texas flavor, edge, and steamy romance of Friday Night Lights."

  • Girl with football-coach-father hates football but falls for the dreamboat second-string quarterback with a lot to lose

  • Dallas is a dancer with dreams of being in a more competitive program, but has to stand up to her controlling father

  • This is an addictive, read-your-whole-day-away romance

4/5 stars




Twice in A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren | What She's Read

I love Mindy McGinnis so much. Her novels always pack a hard punch, and The Female of the Species was no exception. This is dark, dark book about rape culture told in alternative POVs but beautifully written and mesmerizing.

  • Not a light, feel-good read by any means, but you'll be unable to put it down

  • There is a murderer on the loose

  • She's also a teenage girl and trying to make friends and you are rooting for her

Huge TWs here: rape, murder, death, abuse


5/5 stars




Twice in A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren | What She's Read

After finishing up The Female of the Species, I was still in the mood for some suspense/thriller/psychological books. I'd really liked The Good Girl by Mary Kubica and Pretty Baby had been on my TBR for a while: Woman brings a young homeless woman and her infant home with her, and her family life and mental health go to to shit.

  • I almost DNF'd this book because the writing and characterization is seriously lacking. Was The Good Girl this badly written?

  • I didn't DNF, but I still mostly skimmed because I wanted to know the end.

  • It's not worth it. I do not recommend.

1/5 stars








Twice in A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren | What She's Read

I'd had an eARC of The Opposite of Innocent for a while (this book was published in September 2018). A novel in verse, author Sonya Sones tells the story of a young girl who has a crush on her parents' friend who grooms and violates her.


This novel is written from Lily's POV, she is young and navigating young adulthood and doesn't know what Luke is doing to her until long after it's begun. It is an immersive and fast read, and gut wrenching.


The novel ends when Lily decides to tell someone and get some help. At least some readers will want more from this ending, but what a book.


TWs: rape, assault, grooming




Twice in A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren | What She's Read

After a series of darker books, I looked for something a little lighter. Waiting on Tom Hanks had been another book that had been on my TBR for well over a year, and came with some recommendations from some trusted sources.


Man, they were wrong on this one for me. I absolutely hated the writing and how Annie just keeps repeating herself and making the same references (or kinds of references) to Tom Hanks and other rom-coms. We get it, girl, you're looking for your own rom-com hero. I assume it ends happily, but I DNF'd around 30%.



1/5 stars



Twice in A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren | What She's Read

Success! Crown of Coral & Pearl got on my radar when I went to BookCon in 2019 but it took me until January 2021 to read it! I don't know why! It's so great and captivating. It's also on Kindle Unlimited now if you have KU and want to get your hands on a copy.

  • Wanderlust, sisterhood, magic, forbidden love, civil war, treachery and treacherousness

  • The first in a duology--that's right, you can finish this series in just TWO books

  • But really, what's going to happen in the second book? So much happens in the first!

4/5 stars





Twice in A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren | What She's Read

I'd been wanting to read You'd Be Mine for a while, and my OTSP Secret Sister sent this to me last summer. I'd read an eARC of More Than Maybe by Erin Hahn last summer, and it was so cute! I'm so glad I finally picked up You'd Be Mine.

  • Rock and roll (okay, country music) romance about two tortured souls trying to find themselves

  • Lose yourself in this Can-They-or-Can't-They romance (spoiler: they can and will)

  • Have a whole day to read away? Pick this one up

4/5 stars





Twice in A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren | What She's Read

I have a bad habit of reading romance series out of order--maybe one mid-way through is the first to get on my radar, or one is cheap somewhere so I pick it up. I do try to read in order when possible, but I don't usually stress about it too much. All that to say I'd read only the EIGHTH book in this series before the Bridgertons came to Netflix, and I did personally feel like that was a travesty (I also didn't like the 8th book very much, but I don't remember exactly why).


Anyway, The Duke & I was good, but not as good as it probably would have been had I read it before watching Bridgerton. At least I could picture Simon as Regé-Jean Page.


4/5 stars




Twice in A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren | What She's Read

What a beautiful, captivating, gorgeous, aching, heart-twisting gem of a book. The way it weaves familiar and unfamiliar mythology into a tale of a humanity and the search for love and self-acceptance is just breath taking.


I hate that it took me so long to read this book, but I also feel so lucky that I got to read it as part of my group's January Book Club. I loved being able to talk about this with a group. This is one of those books that leaves you feeling a little empty when you finish it, but also like bursting.


If you loved Circe, check out The Wall by Marlen Haushofer


5/5 stars



Twice in A Blue Moon by Christina Lauren | What She's Read

I don't remember when I got Radiance or why, but it reappeared on my radar after I sent one of the Horsemen of the Apocalypse books to a friend who said it was recommended it to her because she loved Grace Draven. So I finally dug in to Radiance.

  • Holy slowburn friends-to-lovers romance! I had to double check that they would in fact get together (they do)

  • The relationship book really drives this book. There is a big cast of characters and some of them are terrible figures, but this really focuses on Brishen and Ildiko.

4/5 stars



For February, I'm going to try to approach reading the same way, and mix in a couple more recent releases and maybe next-in-series hits. How are you tackling your 2021 TBR(s)?