Happy New Year, Bookworms!
Am I the only person who spends the week between Christmas and New Year’s with “Long December” by Counting Crows stuck in my head? I can practically smell 1996 when I hear it. “It’s been a long December and there’s reason to believe maybe this year will be better than the last.” I don’t know what the future holds, but at least my reading is off to a strong start, so let’s talk books!
How to Catch a Queen by Alyssa Cole- I finished this 2 weeks ago and somehow forgot to write about it. I KNOW. But the holidays, even if you stay home and see nobody (which is exactly how we celebrated), are distracting. This series is a companion to the Reluctant Royals series which is SO EXCITING. I didn’t realize going in that there’d be a bit of crossover and it made me ridiculously happy. Remember that perfect Queen of Thesolo candidate on whose shoes Ledi puked in A Princess in Theory? Well. Shanti is BACK and this time, her marriage has been arranged to the King of another (fictional) small African monarchy. Sanyu’s father’s dying wish was to see his son married, so a suitable bride (Shanti) was brought in so that he could witness the nuptials from his sickbed. After his passing, Sanyu tries to take on the mantle of the kingdom, though his efforts are constantly hampered by an aging and rigid council uninterested in change. Shanti would LOVE to assist her husband in running Njaza, as she’s spent her life preparing for just such a role. Unfortunately, the Njaza traditions dictate a 4 month trial period for any potential Queen, and Sanyu is completely ignoring Shanti. It’s a slow burn romance with a lot of discussion of governing policy. Plus it tackles some mental health issues and promotes counselling to overcome toxic family dynamics. Sigh. I just love it when romance novels acknowledge that love doesn’t fix EVERYTHING and sometimes you’ve got to put in the work to deal with your own garbage. If you enjoyed any of the Reluctant Royals books, DEFINITELY pick this one up.
Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia- Noemí Taboada is living a glamourous life as a Mexico City socialite in 1958, when she’s suddenly summoned by her father. Her newly married cousin Catalina has taken ill and written a terrifying letter begging for help. Noemí is sent off to the remote home where Catalina is living with her English husband and his peculiar family to assess the situation. The first half of this book was very, well, gothic. All mysterious old houses and disconcerting dreams and general creepiness. Then it leaps from Heathcliff to HORROR really fast. Like, they’re having dinner and then BAM, you’re in nightmare territory. It’s very good, super creepy, and you’re going to have second thoughts about eating mushrooms for a good long while after reading it.
Pizza Girl by Jean Kyoung Frazier- I’m not really sure what I expected when I picked up this book, but this… Wasn’t it. A pregnant 18 year old girl working at a pizza parlor becomes obsessed with a woman to whom she delivers a pepperoni and pickle pizza. (Incidentally, I have had pickle pizza before, and weird as it may sound, it’s not at all bad.) This book- whew- you could cut the melancholy with a knife. Our main character lost her alcoholic father just a year prior to the events of this book, and her boyfriend was orphaned at around the same time. There’s a whole lot going on with these two kids, and then there’s the unexpected pregnancy on top of it? Ooof. Even though my life was NOT EVEN SLIGHTLY LIKE THIS at 18, this book gave me visceral high school feelings. 18 year old Katie would have LOVED this book. Bleak and reflective and full of angst and soul searching was definitely my jam 20 years ago. 37 year old Katie, on the other hand, was too busy getting caught off guard by the idea that the main character’s MOTHER celebrated her 37th birthday during the story. Look, I get it. I know how math works and that things happen and that not everyone is 34 when they have their first (and probably only) kid. But DAMN. I could theoretically be a grandparent right now. What. The. Heck.
Alright. First week of 2021. It… Feels like 2020, basically, but with like 37% more weird books. Maybe this year will be better than the last after all.
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