Feb 132021

Hey word-nerds. I figured I would keep up this book list on here because it’s fun and I don’t have much else going on. I decided at the end of my 2020 challenge that I definitely do not want to read over 200 books again. I mean – that was nuts and I would like to have more time like, watch a k-drama or something.

I think I set a goal of 50, which seems reasonable and not hyper-obsessive. Right? Except that I still have all this momentum and ended up reading 12 books in January regardless, but I am going to make a conscious effort to slow the eff down from here on out, I swear to myself.

Anyway, here are the first 6 books I read in January, which was an “OK” reading month.

  1. Pizza Girl – Jean Kyoung Frazier

Pizza Girl

What a weird little effing book this one was! Every so often, I take advantage of my library’s recommendation service and the librarian this time around gave me some right recs. We follow an 18-year-old pregnant Korean American, out of high school and lost, working at a pizza shop, when one day she takes a call from a frenzied mom begging for pickles to be added to her son’s pizza. Intrigued by this, the girl then goes out of her way to procure  the pickles and after delivering the pizza, she starts to become obsessed with the lady.

This book was so uncomfortable at times, funny, sad — there’s an underlying exploration of grief that I could relate to more than I wanted to, as it becomes clear that the girl never fully mourned the semi-recent death of her alcoholic father.

I don’t know, I really vibed with this and it was a great book to kick off the new year! Also, the cover is amaze.

2.  The Party – Robyn Harding

The Party

LOL this book was so bad. In regard to the blurb on the front cover: This was more like if a 12-year-old binged Big Little Lies and then tried to write her own version of it. Every single character was written SO POORLY.  The pizza in the book above had more personality than anyone in this book, which is a shame because it was multi-POV and I usually really enjoy books written that way.

Dumb dumb dumb. I hate being a shithead toward published authors because obviously what have I published, but not only was the plot just….huh??….but the writing was bland and unexceptional. Basically, this is something that a mom would grab at an airport bookstand last minute and forget about by the time the plane lands. Skip this!!

3. Us Against You (Beartown #2) – Fredrik Backman

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My friend Eve commented a few months ago and told me that she liked Beartown but she LOVED Us Against You. I thought these were strong words because I LOVED BEARTOWN and couldn’t even imagine how a sequel could best the original.

And then I read it and with saline-swollen eyes and a stuffy nose, I wailed, “SHE WAS RIGHHHHHHHT.” This book is everything. I have since also gotten Janna and Henry to read both and we are like a small little Pittsburgh chapter of the Beartown Bros.

We’re still following Hockey Lyfe in Beartown, most of the characters from the first book are back but we get some new ones too and I can’t stress enough how masterful Backman is at writing characters. Every character has a purpose. Every sentence matters. I sobbed my face off numerous times during my reading journey because the people in this book feel so fucking real to me, my heart aches anytime something bad happens to them.

Drew was actually staring at me with huge concerned eyeballs when I finished the last page because I was legit ugly-sobbing. Like, CRYING OUT LOUD.

You do not have to be a hockey person to enjoy these books. Please read them. A third one is coming out at some point and I am considering medication before I start reading it. Oof.

4. Little Fires Everywhere – Celeste Ng

Little Fires Everywhere

This one kept getting bumped off my TBR last year but I made a point of getting it read in 2021. By now, you probably have at least heard of this thanks to the Reese Witherspoon Hulu adaptation, which I have not seen.

I thought this book was OK! I enjoyed the references to Bethel Park, which isn’t shocking since the author grew up in Pittsburgh, but overall I didn’t really connect to it like I had hoped to. I read “Everything I Never Told You” last year and thought that one was INCREDIBLE. The emotions felt so tangible to me while reading it and I guess I had expected the same from Little Fires. I think if I had read this one first, I would have liked it more but I did think the plot was super interesting and really gave you a lot to think about (if you read this, I’m sure you will know which side I was on).

I needed more Izzy though. She was fucking amazing. Give Izzy her own story!!

5. All the Birds, Singing – Evie Wyld


HOLY.FUCKING.SHIT. Is Evie Wyld a master at timeline fuckery? Yes, I believe she is. After I read “The Bass Rock” last year, I was really eager to devour more of her words and All the Birds did not disappoint. It’s weird how I can handle the most gory horror, abuse, rape etc in books, but as soon as you start adding “animal stuff” I am like, THIS BOOK IS HARD TO READ. And that’s how it was this. Lots of sheep killing, there are some pretty graphic scenes, but everything matters. It didn’t feel gratuitous.

Like The Bass Rock, this one took me a bit to decode the timeline, but once I did, I kind of sat up straight and said out loud, “Wait…is this…did she really…wow.” It’s just….WYLD. Lol.

I actually need to re-read this one at some point, now that I have a better understanding of the timeline. I love it when you’re reading a book and it just suddenly clicks. This book is a treasure!

6. Harrow Lake – Kat Ellis 

Harrow Lake

I actually kind of liked this more than I thought I would considering it’s a YA thriller/mystery. The daughter of a famous horror movie director goes back to the town where his most famous film was set, and accidentally falls into a mission to find out what really happened to her mom. Is this something that I will remember years from now? Nope. Did it provide some entertainment via audiobook while I was slogging through a miserable workday? Yeah boi. And that’s really all I can ask for.

  2 Responses to “Books I Read In January 2021”

  1. Hey!!! I knew of all people who read the second book, you would get why it is beyond the first one. It’s hard to put into words how I feel about Us Against You, and I don’t even like hockey except for that Paul Newman movie.

    I read the other Celeste Ng book and thought it was meh, so this one is low priority. I also read Evie Wylde’s debut book years ago and struggled with it. I really dislike literary fiction, I guess. I.am currently reading “Reviving The Hawthorne Sisters” by Emily Carpenter. It’s about a girl who was born in a psychiatric hospital and became a faith healer/evangelist, and when she dies, her grand daughter knows she’s a fraud but it does everything she can to protect the legacy. It’s interesting.

  2. Hi Erin!
    My absence from commenting this past year is due to the change in my business model (thanks for nothing COVID) which has me glued to my computers 24/7, and strips away the joy of being online. When I’m not medical writing, I’m entering patient data which never bothered me when the other 50% of my time was traveling to my hospital sites and actually communicating in person (Zoom can f*** off!). No more hotel nights reading and watching YouTube after a glass of wine. SIGH! I do save your blog posts and read on the weekends with my coffee. I’m so thankful for your posts!
    Thanks to you, Panchinko was my first read of 2021 and set me up for a solid month of reading in January. And, I just borrowed, Beartown from the library on my Libby app. How did I not know about borrowing ebooks from the library? Looking forward to reading Beartown, thank you for the recommendation!
    In January, after Panchinko, my next two books were also excellent for entirely different reasons.
    Eight Perfect Murders by Peter Swanson was such a well written book. It had a strong Agatha Christie vibe which was purposeful by the author, and there is quite a bit of mystery book history in this as well since the main character of the story is the proprietor of a mystery bookshop based in Boston. However, the actual mystery and how it ended wasn’t my fave but I can forgive since the writing was phenomenal. Luckily he has written many other books and I plan on tearing through them this year for sure.
    Next up, was, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone by Lori Gottlieb which I’d highly recommend! While a work of fiction, the author herself is a therapist and the book follows a therapist who herself has to go to therapy after a breakup. Such a great book, I’d highly recommend it, especially if you’re looking for something different. I barely made it through When No One is Watching by Alyssa Cole. The history of Brooklyn and how the gentrification ruined the area was very interesting and based on facts, and the two main characters were really great. Also, the writing was solid. So, for those reasons I’d 50% recommend it. But the murder mystery aspect of the storyline was too far fetched and at times it almost felt like two storylines forced into one book (if that makes sense).
    Looking forward to Beartown!

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