What I Read in January

January was a great month of reading, not because I read a lot, but because the books were fun. They were light, they were fluffy, there was some murder, there was some sex, there were gorgeous Italian villas, ancient libraries, and museum archives. It was just a great time.

Good Girl Complex by Elle Kennedy was the first book I read and also the first book I bought in 2023. I was looking for either The Villa or The Cloisters (below) but the local book store I was in didn’t have it, but I wanted a book for my train ride and flight and I picked up this. I had no clue at the time that the author is Canadian, which is very cool. This isn’t my normal type of book, I don’t normally go for romances or smutty books but this is definitely both. It was very enjoyable, it would be a great read, but it’s a medium book. I am however intrigued by the sequel and this has gone in my pile for friends to borrow for beach reads over the summer. So I would recommend, but don’t expect a great piece of literature.

The Villa by Rachel Hawkins was the Bad on Paper Podcast book club book of the month, which I was very excited about because I don’t typically get to participate in their book clubs because I find it very logistically challenging to get my hands on the book in the time frame of them announcing the book to the episode coming out. This book follows Emily and her childhood best friend Chess, who have both grown up to be authors, of a very different ilk. Emily writes cozy mysteries, and is severely struggling with writers block after being ill for a long time, struggling to conceive, and is going through a very nasty divorce. Chess, formerly Jess, is an incredibly successful Rachel Hollis-type. After meeting for lunch one afternoon, Chess invites Emily to spend the summer writing together at an Italian villa. However, this villa has a salacious recent history. In the 1970s a soon-to-be famous author and soon-to-be famous singer-songwriter came to stay there with the author’s then-famous musician husband, his more famous musician friend, and another guy, a hanger-on type. But by the end of that 1970s summer one of them would be dead, one in jail, one releasing a hit album, and one publishing the thriller of a lifetime.

Both summers collide in a way that I didn’t predict nor anticipate. I’ve been really enjoying the mystery/thriller type books I’ve been reading lately. I haven’t been able to call them, any of the twists, particularly how this one had the twist I was expecting and then the twist I absolutely was not.

Lastly, was The Cloisters by Katy Hays. This was also a Bad on Paper Podcast book club pick, from December. This was such an enjoyable book. Ann Stillwell is a recent PhD graduate in art history. She is leaving her small east Washington state college town that she grew up in for a curatorial associates program at the Met in New York City. She cannot wait to leave, not just because she’s never left her small town, nor because it’s the Met in NYC, but because her father was just killed in a hit and run. However, when she gets to New York she learns that her advisor has been summoned to Italy at the last minute and there is no longer a place for her at the Met. Luckily, or so she thinks, a curator from the Met’s Cloisters Museum swoops in and scoops her up. This summer project launches her into a world of tarot, mysticism, murder, and launches her career to heights she could only imagine.

January was a lot of very fun books, except for the 10 pages a day I read of a very dry Emergency Preparedness book that I’m slogging through for work. I am still working on that one, but I think I should be finished it by the end of February so long as I continue that daily habit.

I also have Babel up next to start and I have heard such good things about it, and January was a white author month so I am very excited to have some books by non-white authors lined up.


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