Book Reviews

January Book Review

10 books to kick off the year for 2024! Here is my January Book Review. My goal is to write monthly book reviews this year to stay on top of book recommendations. If you’re looking for more book recommendations, check out my 2023 books here

I normally do not read 10 books in a month but there are two reasons I read so much: 1) Eli was on nights this month and I just do not enjoy watching movies or tv alone. I discovered on Instagram that I’m not alone in this and it makes me feel so seen! I need someone to discuss things with in a show or else I’ll just play on my phone the entire time. With books, I’m able to disconnect more. 2) I got HOOKED on the Magnolia Parks series. I’ll go into it more when I review the individual books on this post but it was such a great series to start the year! 

What was your best book of the month?! 

Book 1: The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

Rating: 5/5 Stars 

I love Kate Quinn novels! I so enjoyed her book The Rose Code last year and have a few of her books on my TBR list. I would recommend this to anyone who loves historical fiction or who is interested in diving into historical fiction, maybe for the first time. I find her novels to be so entertaining and I also learn so much. This novel is from the perspective of a female sniper from Russia during WWII. Kate Quinn writes these wonderful stories about powerful women in history, you will be hooked! 

Mila Pavlichenko is a quiet, young mom who is just trying to make a better life for her and her son. That is until Hitler invades Ukraine and Russia and Mila enlists in the fight for her country. She turns from a quiet young woman into a powerful, deadly sniper known as lady death. She becomes well known after her 300th kill and starts on a press journey in the United States, trying to convince them to come to Russian aid in the war. Mila endures a lot during the war and is lonely and isolated in America. She strikes up a friendship with first Lady Eleanor Roosevelt along the way and slowly things start turning around for Lady Death. Until they don’t. 

Mila is such a powerful character and this book basically felt like a biography of her life. It was based on many true events in her life, although of course some creative liberties were taken. If you’re looking for a book about a powerful female, this is it! 

Book 2: Check & Mate by Ali Hazelwood 

Rating: 3/5 Stars 

I loved Ali Hazelwood’s book The Love Hypothesis and would recommend it if you’re looking for a rom com type book. Check and Mate is technically a YA book and I think would be great for anyone in high school or college! It just felt a little young for me with all of the gen z references. It is a YA novel so knowing that, I can’t judge it too harshly for the gen z references. 

Mallory has just graduated high school and her future looks uncertain. Her mom and sisters are dependent on her financially, preventing her from going off to college. Her best friend coaxes her into entering a chess tournament. Mallory is finished with chess after an incident 4 years ago almost destroyed her family but agrees to the tournament for her friend. She just so happens to beat the number 1 player in the world, Nolan, during this tournament. Oh and of course Nolan just so happens to be devastatingly handsome. This sets of a chain of events that leads Mallory down a path she never expected to- becoming a professional chess player. She gathers attention from the media and a handsome chess player along the way, all while keeping it a secret from her family. 

It’s a cute book, it just wasn’t my favorite! 

Book 3: Magnolia Parks by Jessa Hastings

Rating: 3.5/5 Stars

I am obsessed with the Magnolia Parks series but I don’t think it’s for everyone! If you read this, know going in that it is not the most well written novel you’ll ever read nor does it have the most mature characters out there. If you decide to read this, do it for the drama. 

This book is basically if Gossip Girl took place in London. The two main characters, Magnolia Parks and BJ Ballentine, are the definition of a toxic couple and you will be sucked into their drama. Magnolia is the it girl of London society, everyone’s a little bit in love with her. She only has eyes for BJ, her ex boyfriend from boarding school. They’re meant to be but can’t be after BJ wronged Magnolia and she is unable to forgive him. So they both turn to different vices to cope with the fact that they can’t be together. Or can they work it out? 

The characters grew on me so much and I couldn’t put the book down by the end. Books 1, 3, & 5 are from Magnolia Parks’ perspective, Books 2 & 4 are from Daisy Haites perspective. All of the characters intertwine and my favorite part is Books 1 & 2 and books 3 & 4  are the same time frame, just told through different characters’ perspectives. 

Book 4: Daisy Haites by Jessa Hastings 

Rating: 4/5 Stars

I enjoyed Book 2 in this series even more than book 1. I like Daisy more than Magnolia. Daisy’s family is a long line of criminals. Her older brother inherited the business from his father and they’re involved in a lot of illegal activities involving art stealing among other things. Daisy acts as a moral compass for her brother and she just seems like a better person than some of the other characters. Because of the nature of her family’s business, there’s always a target on Daisy’s back. She falls hard for Christian Hayes (who just so happens to maybe be in love with Magnolia from book 1). But Daisy and Christian’s family business doesn’t make their life easy and presents a lot of obstacles on the way. 

Drama, drama, drama! Again, imagine gossip girl but with more criminal activities. 

This is a side note and not that related to the plot  but I always crack up when someone is in medical school or residency in a book. Daisy is a second year medical student but you would hardly know it because she’s literally never in school. Anyone else who has a spouse in the medical field or is in the medical field themselves will definitely get a few chuckles at how unrealistic the portrayal of it is haha. But overall I devoured this book and loved Daisy’s perspective! 

Book 5:  Magnolia Parks: The Long Way

Rating: 4/5 Stars 

I won’t go into too much detail on books 5 and 6 of this series so I don’t spoil anything if you decide to dive into this series. We’re back with Magnolia Parks, London’s it girl. And of course there’s more drama and more ups and downs with her and BJ. This book ends on a cliff hanger  and I NEED book 5 to come out so I can know what happens. 

Book 6: Daisy Haites: The Great Undoing 

Rating: 4/5 Stars 

Again, not going to go into much detail because I don’t want to spoil anything. You’re back to Daisy’s perspective and WOW did I fall in love with Julian Haites during this book. You get Christian’s, Daisy’s, and Julian’s perspectives and I enjoyed all 3. This was my favorite of the first 4 books. 

Book 7: Love, Theoretically by Ali Hazelwood 

Rating: 3.5 /5 stars

I decided to give another Ali Hazelwood book a shot this month. I don’t really know why because I didn’t love Check and Mate but alas. This book was just okay for me. Ali’s books can be very science heavy and I think I just wasn’t in the mood to learn so much about physicists. 

Elise is a theoretical physicist who is on the hunt for a new job. Her current day job is being an adjunct professor and her side gig involves getting paid to be a fake girlfriend. Her current “boyfriend” just so happens to have an older brother, Jack Smith, who turns out to be more involved in Elise’s world than she’d ever expected. He just so happens to be on the interviewing committee of the job she wants.Now will Jack figure out that she’s fake dating his brother? Will it impact her professional career as she tries to land a new job? Will she be able to not get distracted by his good looks and longing glances? 

It was a cute romance book, just a little too sciency for me BUT that is textbook Ali Hazelwood. She’s the STEM queen! 

Book 8: The Exception to the Rule by Christina Lauren 

Rating: 4/5 Stars

This is a short story available only on Kindle unlimited. When I say short, I mean short! It was right at 100 pages. It’s part of a series of 6 books on Amazon unlimited called The Improbable Meet Cute. I actually read the first 4 of 6 of these but this was the only one I liked so it’s the only one I counted as a “read” book because they were all so short. I didn’t want to cheat my Goodreads account haha. 

The main characters in this book accidentally end up emailing on Feb 14th while they’re in high school. Then they email again a year later on the same date. This starts a chain of emailing on Valentine’s Day every year but having no other communication outside of that or really any details about the other’s life. As the years go by and life happens around them, they slowly start finding out more details about each other and are there maybe some sparks flying through the emails? 

It was short, sweet, and enjoyable! I would skip all the other novellas in this series though, I didn’t enjoy any but this one. 

Book 9: None of This is True by Lisa Jewell 

Rating: 4/5 Stars 

If you’re looking for a not super scary thriller, this is that type of book! The main characters, Josie and Alix, are birthday twins. Born on the same day, the same year, in the same hospital. They run into each other on their birthday and it feels like fate for Josie, who has just decided to make some major changes in her life. Alix is the host of a successful podcast and Josie has the idea that Alix should do a podcast following the new changes in Josie’s life. As she is interviewing her for the podcast, Allix begins to discover things about Josie that raise some alarms. The closer they get, the more Alix’s life starts to spiral out of her control and the more unbelievable Josie’s story becomes. Leaving you wondering… if any of this is true. 

The novel lives up to its name, you are constantly wondering what is true and what isn’t. 

Book 10: Winter In Paradise by Elin Hilderbrand 

Rating: 4/5 Stars 

This series is a reread for me and I enjoyed it just as much as I did the first time! We went to Grand Cayman for a week and it felt like the perfect book to enjoy in paradise in January. 

Although the title of the book is Winter in Paradise, it is hardly paradise for Irene Steele. Everything in Irene’s life is beautiful- a perfect doting husband, her historic home, her two sons. Everything changes on New Year’s Day when she receives a call that her husband was killed in the Virgin Islands in a helicopter crash. Having no idea why her husband would have been in the Virgin Islands to begin with, Irene flies down to investigate. She arrives on the island of St. John discovering her perfect husband was indeed not so perfect. 

The perfect winter beach read but also just a great read anytime of year! 

Okay phew- that was a lot! If you made it this far, I hope you enjoyed this January Book Review. I felt like I was writing mini book reports for each book haha. Thanks for reading!