January 2021 Reading Round-Up

Welcome to my January 2021 reading round-up! First of all, can you believe January is already over? I feel like Christmas was just yesterday! Even though I’m still in disbelief, today I’m sharing the details of what I read in 2021. Hint: it was a lot! For me, at least 🙂

January 2021 Stats

After several years of reading only sporadically, 2020 was the year I found my way back to books. I read 34 books last year but hit a major reading slump from the end of the summer until mid-December. When it came to a 2021 reading goal, I wanted to set an achievable target, so I settled on fifty. After reading ten books in the first month of the year, I realize I may want to up that goal!

As an auditor by day, I love my numbers. I wanted to share a few stats about my January 2021 reads…

Genre

January 2021 Genres: 1 Mystery/Suspense, 1 Memoir, 8 Romance

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m finally owning that I love romance novels! I’ve always felt that I should be somewhat embarrassed by the number of romance books I read and that I should try to read more “sophisticated” genres. I believe this train of thought led me to lose my love of reading for a long time, because I was forcing myself to read things I didn’t connect with. Even as recently as last year, my reading slump began when I tried to make myself read books I thought I “should” read, rather than what I actually wanted to read. 

As you can see from the stats above, I stuck mostly to my preferred romance novels. I did start off the year with a mystery/suspense novel and listened to a memoir. I feel like this is a good balance of books for me. I also didn’t find myself losing my reading mojo so much. I only slowed down when I got sick for a week or so toward the end of the month. 

Format

January 2021 Formats: 1 Audible, 2 Hardcover, 7 Kindle

 

 

 

 

 

 

For romance novels, I generally prefer Kindle copies. I think this is because I read so many of them, and read them so quickly, that my apartment would be taken over with books if I owned physical copies of them all. The two hardcover books were from Book of the Month, which I enjoy because they’re special BOTM editions! I have found that I like to listen to the audiobook version of memoirs because hearing the author narrate their own story adds another level of connection to the experience. 

And now, onto the books!

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Book 1 of 2021

Genre: Mystery
Date Started: January 1, 2021
Date Finished: January 3, 2021
Rating: 4/5 stars
Read my review here.

I wanted to start 2021 off with something different and The Night Swim fit the bill perfectly. This book got, and still has, me thinking about how rape and sexual assault are viewed in today’s society. I knocked off one star because I didn’t feel connected to the main character and the pacing was a little bit slow for my taste. 

 

The Bribe by Willa Nash (Devney Perry)

Book 2 of 2021

Genre: Romance
Date Started: January 9, 2021
Date Finished: January 9, 2021
Rating: 5/5 stars
Read my review here.

I stumbled upon this book, and I am so glad I did! I’m picky when it comes to romance novels, so it’s tough to find authors whose books I connect with consistently. As you’ll see, I read four of Devney Perry’s books this month! Oh, and book two in this series, The Bluff,  releases Thursday February 4th!

 

Runaway Road by Devney Perry

Book 3 of 2021

Genre: Romance
Date Started: January 10, 2021
Date Finished: January 11, 2021
Rating: 4/5 stars

What a sweet romance novel! The first in the Runaways series, this romance novel drew me in. I’d even go as far as giving it 4.5 stars. It told the story of a strong female lead looking to start over when she stumbles into an adorable town in West Virginia and the arms of a hunky mechanic. 

 

The Dating Plan by Sara Desai

Book 4 of 2021

Genre: Romance
Date Started: January 12, 2021
Date Finished: January 14, 2021
Rating: 4/5 stars

This was my Book of the Month choice for January! I may post a more comprehensive review on here soon, but it was a sweet modern romance. The relationship/marriage of convenience trope is one I usually enjoy, and I think the author used it to her advantage to create a fun story. 

This was a BOTM early release, and the book will be released on March 15, 2021!

 

The Duke and I by Julia Quinn

Book 5 of 2021

Genre: Romance
Date Started: January 14, 2021
Date Finished: January 17, 2021
Rating: 3/5 stars

Since the Netflix series Bridgerton was recently released, I wanted to read the first book in the series before watching it. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. The pacing seemed really off to me. I don’t want to spoil too much in this post, but it felt like the love story alternated between rushed and drawn out. Three stars is a generous rating since it was a slog for me to get through. 

I haven’t given up on the Bridgertons entirely, though. I know from experience that just because I don’t like one book in a series doesn’t mean I won’t like another. I’ve also enjoyed previous Julia Quinn books, so I may give book 2 a try sometime in the future!

 

Choosing You by Stacy Finz

Book 6 of 2021

Genre: Romance
Date Started: January 17, 2021
Date Finished: January 18, 2021
Rating: 5/5 stars
Read my Goodreads review.

I recently signed up for NetGalley, a site where you can request a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) of a book in exchange for an honest review. Choosing You was my first ARC from NetGalley and it was a great pick! 

This quick read tells a story of love after loss and making sacrifices for the life you want and deserve. It’s a book I would go to if I needed a pick-me-up and a few laughs. Although this was the eleventh book in the Nugget series, it was easy to read as a stand-alone without the background of Nugget’s other residents. 

 

Wild Highway by Devney Perry

Book 7 of 2021

Genre: Romance
Date Started: January 19, 2021
Date Finished: January 21, 2021
Rating: 4/5 stars

This is book two in the Runaways series, and I didn’t love it as much as the first. It leans more toward a 3.5-star rating for me. I felt like I didn’t get to know or connect with the male lead in this book as much as I would have liked. The relationship fell into place a little more quickly than I was expecting as well. 

 

The Rural Diaries by Hilarie Burton Morgan

Book 8 of 2021

Genre: Memoir
Date Started: January 18, 2021
Date Finished: January 22, 2021
Rating: 5/5 stars
Read my review here.

I won’t repeat my whole review here, but I will say I loved this book! I didn’t know what to expect for a memoir about farm life from a celebrity, but it was great! You don’t have to be familiar with Hilarie Burton’s career at all to be captivated by her book. She narrates the audible version, and hearing her emotions significantly added to my listening experience.

 

Quarter Miles by Devney Perry

Book 9 of 2021

Genre: Romance
Date Started: January 22, 2021
Date Finished: January 23, 2021
Rating: 4/5 stars

I’d give a solid 3.75 stars for the third book in the Runaways series. I felt the male lead was a little obtuse in how he viewed the female lead, and his sudden change in feelings felt a bit unrealistic. But I enjoyed the banter between the two and thought it carried the spirit of the series well. 

 

Cold-Hearted Rake by Lisa Kleypas

Book 10 of 2021

Genre: Romance
Date Started: January 27, 2021
Date Finished: January 30, 2021
Rating: 5/5 stars

Hands-down, Lisa Kleypas is my favorite regency romance author. I have read over twenty of her novels! I was a bit apprehensive of starting her most recent series, The Ravenels, since sometimes authors start to phone it in after two dozen or so great books. But this one did not disappoint! 

I’m hoping to write a more detailed review soon, so I’ll just lay out the highlights. A man who thinks he cannot love, a woman treated poorly by her now-deceased husband, and a family full of excitement and intrigue. I can’t wait to start the next book in the series! 

 

And with that, January 2021 has come to a close. I can’t wait to see what I’ll read this month!

From one Wordo to another, thanks for tuning in! See you next time!

 

 

 

The Night Swim Book Review

 

Thanks for checking out my book review of The Night Swim, by Megan Goldin. It’s the first book I read in 2020, out of my goal of 50!

TRIGGER WARNING:

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Please note, this book centers on two violent rape cases.

Little Gold Book

The Night Swim by Megan Goldin

Genre: Mystery

Date Started: January 1, 2021

Date Finished: January 3, 2021

Rating: 4/5 Stars

By Its Cover

The Night Swim chronicles the interwoven tales of two tragic events in the seaside town of Neapolis, twenty-five years apart. The main character, Rachel Krall, is a popular true crime podcast host in town to cover a controversial rape trial for the next season of her show. On her way to Neapolis, she receives a mysterious note from a stranger, asking for her help to solve her sixteen year old sister’s murder from twenty-five years ago. As the trial reaches its climax, so does the mystery around the young girl’s long-forgotten death. 

"That's the thing about mistakes. Not all of them can be fixed." Megan Goldin, The Night Swim

In My Book

I didn’t know much about The Night Swim going into it, other than that the main character was the host of a true crime podcast. Considering such podcasts make up the majority of my Spotify playlists, I had a feeling this could be the book for me. It certainly delivered – there was mystery, conflict and, in the end, good won over evil. 

Unlike most mystery novels, this one was more of a slow burn. The intertwining plots slowly unraveled. The point that was supposed to be the climax didn’t hit as hard as I expected it to. I was surprised by who the “villain” turned out to be, though I guess if I thought hard about it I probably could have guessed, but the scene itself wasn’t as shocking as I was hoping or expecting. 

I also had trouble connecting to the main character. It felt like she could have been more developed. Again, maybe I missed something, but I didn’t understand her motivation behind her podcast show or her deep desire to solve Jenny’s murder. I didn’t dislike the character of Rachel, but I didn’t feel the connection to her that I was expecting. I felt it more so with Hannah, the secondary character, than Rachel. 

By the previous three paragraphs, it may sound as if I didn’t enjoy this book. But I really did! Megan Goldin did an incredible job of delving into the complex topic of rape and sexual assault. At times, it hit so close to home that I had to take breaks from reading because it was so emotional. It’s difficult to explore such themes in a respectful but honest way, yet Goldin did just that. 

The Night Swim pushed me outside of my reading comfort zone, which is exactly what I was hoping it would do. As a lover of all things romance, I have trouble accepting endings that aren’t happily ever afters. But that’s not reality. In order to grow as a writer, I know I need to expand my horizons and read new and interesting perspectives. I learned a lot from reading The Night Swim and I’ll carry those lessons into my future writings. 

To Close The Book

I received my copy of The Night Swim from Book of the Month (affiliate link – get your copy for $5!) as my second month in a three-month gift subscription from my friend Salina last August. As excited as I was about the gift subscription, Salina sent it just as I was hitting a four-month slump where I was only able to finish one audiobook and no traditional books. Ugh!

Once I started to ramp up my reading again in late December, I knew The Night Swim needed to be high on my next reads list. Crime novels are one of my favorite genres, after romance of course, and when you add a true crime podcaster to the mix, I knew this book would be up my alley! 

Based on the book jacket description, I’m not sure if I would have picked this book on my own. But that’s the beauty of Book of the Month and other similar book subscriptions – they help you find your way to a story you may not have read otherwise. 

Check out my other reviews here.

Has my The Night Swim book review inspired you to read it? Get your copy from Bookshop.org.

From one Wordo to another, thanks for tuning in! See you next time!