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Mini-Reviews of Recent Reads – January 2024

Book reviews of The Love Hypothesis; Someday, Maybe; Weyward; The Last Love Note; The Other Profile, and Everyone But Myself.

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I spent much of my reading time in January reading some Book of the Month Club books that have been sitting on my shelf for a while.

I always love choosing books each month, but they often fall down my reading list. It was nice to take the time to curl up with physical books (instead of my Kindle) and read some of the books I had selected.

As for the reading, many of the books this month were pretty heavy; topics like grief, suicide, anxiety, and depression can be tough to immerse yourself in.

Thank goodness for skilled authors who handle them well and make reading about them worthwhile. Nonetheless, I expect my February reading to skew a little lighter to add some balance.

Print and E-Books

The Love Hypothesis by Ali Hazelwood

The Love Hypothesis

Author: Ali Hazelwood
Source: Book of the Month Club
Publish Date: 2021
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Olive is a Ph.D. candidate in biology at Stanford, and she’s never been very interested in having a relationship. If only her friend, Anh, believed her. To convince Anh (so Anh will go ahead and date her ex), Olive finds herself kissing the very grumpy professor, Adam Carlsen. And then fake dating him. As these things go, “fake” starts to feel more real than she expected.

Fake dating is a trope I’m kind of indifferent about; it can be good, when done well (Yours Truly) but it often feels a little implausible (how often do people actually fake-date in real life?). That was definitely the case here, and the lack of communication between the characters (all of them, not just the main two) was astounding. But I did enjoy the academic setting, the focus on women in STEM and the issues they face, and yes, the romance. It was cute, which sometimes, is all you can ask of a romance novel.

Someday, Maybe by Onyi Nwabineli

Someday, Maybe

Author: Onyi Nwabineli
Source: Book of the Month Club
Publish Date: 2022
Genres: Contemporary Fiction

Eve is drowning in grief. Her husband, Quentin, took his own life and left no note, no explanation. This book is purely her journey through grief, in all its messiness. Eve has a wonderful family and friends who do everything to carry her through, but their patience with one another wears thin–Eve is triggered by everything they do, and they need her to start living. On top of this, Quentin’s horrible mother is terrorizing and blaming everyone.

This book is wonderfully written, but very difficult to read. It’s heavy. The marketing is also terrible–from the illustrated cover to the publisher blurbs that describe it as “witty.” As one Goodreads reviewer astutely pointed out, “I don’t know what it is with people marketing grief memoirs and grief books as “funny” but it says something disturbing about how people consume stories about women’s pain…” As heavy as it is, it may also be the realistic depiction of grief that some people need. I couldn’t read this twice, but I’m looking forward to more from Nwabineli.

Weyward by Emilia Hart


Author: Emilia Hart
Source: Book of the Month Club
Publish Date: 2022
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Fantasy

Three women, from three different centuries, turn to the wonders of nature to save themselves. Kate, in 2019, flees her abusive partner and hides in her great-aunt’s woodsy cottage, where she discovers secrets about the women who came before. Violet, in 1942, longs to be a scientist but is constrained by her wealthy family’s expectations. Altha, in 1619, is on trial for witchcraft, accused in the death of a local farmer.

I loved this novel that explores misogyny and violence against women, alongside their own paths to empowerment. Make no mistake–there are a LOT of content warnings for this book (sexual assault, abuse, pregnancy loss, and more). But if you love a good tale of women reclaiming themselves in uniquely feminine ways, with a bit of mysticism thrown in, give this one a try.

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The Last Love Note by Emma Grey

The Last Love Note

Author: Emma Grey
Source: Libro.fm ALC
Publish Date: 2022
Genres: Contemporary Fiction

Two years ago, Kate lost her husband. She’s raising her son and working her fundraising job at a university, while barely managing her grief and the demands of daily life. Hugh, her understanding boss–who was also her husband’s best friend–makes things a little easier. When Kate and Hugh are stranded together on a work trip, she has to decide how she wants to move forward with her life, and what her husband would have wanted for her.

This contemporary novel has some romance, but it’s examination of grief takes it out of the realm of rom-coms (despite the cover that leans that direction, as well as some humor). It’s emotional and vulnerable; the author has personal experience that she draws on. Sad but hopeful, and well worth the read.

The Other Profile

Author: Irene Graziosi
Source: Libro.fm ALC
Publish Date: 2024
Genres: Contemporary Fiction

Maia is 26, lacking direction, and grappling with the loss of the sister who took her own life. When she takes a job with Gloria, and 18-year-old influencer, their lives become entangled in ways that neither one expect.

Maybe this Gen-Z novel would resonate more with that audience, but it failed to connect with me. Gloria waffles between vapid social media influencer and subtle moments of greater complexity, and neither really gelled to form a cohesive character (maybe this rings true of young influencers?). I listened to the end, but probably should have DNFed.

Everyone But Myself by Julia Chavez

Everyone But Myself

Author: Julie Chavez
Source: Libro.fm ALC
Publish Date: 2024
Genres: Nonfiction

When Julie Chavez had her first panic attack, she knew she had to figure something out. On the surface, her life seemed fine: her librarian job, her two children, and her loving husband made her happy. But each day, she walked a precarious line while juggling the million details that keep a family going. Her worries took over, and she was left with crippling anxiety.

Chavez’s honest account of her struggles to manage her anxiety was binge listening for me, because it was all so familiar. I intensely related to the way she described the miserable buzzing of anxiety throughout her body, and I suspect many other women will also see themselves. Our reasons for the anxiety may be different, but the feeling seems common, and Chavez gives voice–and a little hope–to our mostly silent battles.

What have you been reading lately?

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Books to read: January 2024 Reviews